“Look on the bright side”

Ever heard the statement “but look on the bright side?” or “but on the other hand…”. Or one of the favourite quotes I’ve come across, “The person who thinks they can, and cannot, are both right”. What does this meme?

In Psychology, one of the important aspects explored in session are the thoughts and beliefs of the client. The reasons for this are numerous, however an often key factor is that our thoughts shape how we feel. What really makes us feel and respond the way we do, is often not the situation or the words and actions of another person, but how we perceive that situation or that person’s actions. It is how we see something or someone and what we think about it or them that really influences how we feel.

Our perspective about an event that significantly influences our emotions and actions. This is particularly applicable if you’re constantly feeling stressed, down, or anxious!
Here’s an example. Suppose you went to a party and your host introduces you to Mike. As you talk to him, you notice that he does not look directly at you but often looks around the room. How would you feel if you thought, “Boy, this guy is so rude! He won’t even look at me while I’m talking with him! What a douche!”
What if you thought, “Mike must think that I’m really unattractive and uninteresting. I must be a really boring person. Nobody wants to talk to me!”

What about if you were to think, “Mike’s probably waiting for a friend to come. Maybe he’s getting a bit anxious.” You probably realised that you felt three different emotions as a result of those three different thoughts. Often, we are not aware of our thoughts and beliefs because they are so automatic and happen quickly. But they are there, and they affect the way we feel.
Knowing this central concept of cognitive psychology, I’d encourage you to reflect on situations in the past, present or future where you’re feeling distressed. Be curious and ask yourself, “What thoughts or beliefs is contributing to how I feel? Are there other angles to look at this from and how would I feel?”

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and enjoyable holiday break, see you in 2019!


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