Friday, September 26, 2014

Why do our family and friends get under our skin!?

Have you ever caught yourself with a bad attitude? Negative ways of thinking can cause us to self-sabotage, have a poor work ethic, drive others away or damage our sense of self worth.

Here are a few patterns of faulty thinking that are easy to spot.

The people-pleaser: "My opinion is somewhere between what some people think and what everyone else thinks."

The depressed apathetic: "Look at all of those smart people who know what they are talking about. I don't deserve to have a point of view, whatever the people on television say goes."

The pseudo-enlightened: "If everyone would just agree with me and do things exactly the way I do, the world would be a different place."

The martyr: "I have suffered so much in my life, I deserve to have whatever I want- even at the expense of others."

The self-enchanted: "Can we get back to talking about me now!?"

The melodramatic: "I'm having a rough day! I am going to set myself on fire and throw myself off a cliff."

....we could go on and on. I'm sure you could write your own list! I'm being silly with the quotes, but we all know how much these attitudes and thoughts can influence our lives.

When I am reading lists like these, I tend to automatically think of people that these personalities remind me of. Do you have a people-pleasing mom or a melodramatic neighbor? A lot of us do!

However, you might not be thinking of that person for the obvious reason. According to the groundbreaking psychologist, Carl Jung, the behaviors that tend to annoy or bother us in other people are generally ones that can lead to an understanding of ourselves. (In fact, I probably subconsciously wrote that list with myself in mind!)

When it really bothers me that my coworker is acting self-absorbed, it might be because those are behaviors that I am engaging in also. (and if the latter is not true, it may just be that I am afraid of behaving that way or used to in the past.) Instead of directly judging the person the faulty thinking personality reminds us if, it is critical to ask ourselves, "Are there times when I do that?" 

Although we have been talking about these thoughts as if they are always negative, there are times when the attitude can serve me positively if used at the appropriate times and with appropriate measure. It's funny to be melodramatic when making a joke, but it would be horribly detrimental to be melodramatic when correcting a coworkers mistake or when filing a police report. Taking time for self-care is good, but taking selfies all day while the baby is crying is obviously poor judgment.

After recognizing the personality tendency, think about when the behavior is useful and when it is detrimental. This will help give those tendencies purpose, while making room for us to use new ways of thinking in situations where those attitudes and thoughts did not serve us.



This post was inspired by an exercise that my friend Michele conducted at our local women's group. We did an activity where we drew pictures of people that we admired and people that annoyed us with a short list of things that we found admirable or annoying. After drawing the pictures, we had to consider if those were attributes that also described ourselves. Eerily, every person found the adjectives to fit perfectly!

You can follow Michele Parham's blog at Natural Attachment  She writes about midwifery, unschooling, natural parenting and all kinds of good stuff.

A big part of this post was inspired by some notes that I found from my Social Psychology course. The book can be found on Amazon HERE