Quick, describe your neighbor. The friend you just talked to on the phone. And one other person you know.
Tally up the negatives and positives. What do they indicate?
Actually, they say a lot more about you than the people you’re describing.
Sages, poets and mystics have told us all along that what we perceive is who we are. Research indicates they were right. Our perceptions of others actually say much more about us.
According to a study in the July 2010 issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the tendency to assess people in our social networks positively is linked to our own
even how much others like us.
A lead researcher says, “Seeing others positively reveals our own positive traits.”
The opposite is also true. The study found that how negatively we view others is linked to our own unhappiness as well as a greater likelihood of problems such as depression, narcissism and antisocial behavior.
That explains a lot.
Sure, any three people we know are likely to have annoying traits. Who doesn’t? But as Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
Often people whose behavior is most challenging turn out, in retrospect, to bring out new strengths in us. They illuminate what we don’t want to see, make us more aware and teach us to be better people ourselves. Perhaps we’re drawn to the sandpaper that smoothes us our own imperfections.
It isn’t reasonable to cast a wholly positive light on every person. But knowing that what we see is what we enhance in ourselves, that can make all the difference.
A human being is essentially
Whatever you really see,
you are that.
Art courtesy of SkyHorizon