Updated: Apr 25, 2020
It is not an event or a person that is making us feel. It is our perception of it!
We can both go through the same event but we might not feel the same way about it as our perception will be different.
Take “Crisp sandwich” - Do you like a crisp sandwich?
How would you feel if your friend offers you a “Crisp Sandwich”?
And how would you feel if your friend offers you “garlic snails” on Christmas day?
My dad would definitely be delighted to have garlic snails, but he would definitely pull a face if you give him a crisp sandwich! (trust me I have tried!! Typical French Man)
There is no right or wrong answers. It depends on your perception!
This perception is influenced by your culture, your education and your past experience amongst other things.
In the British culture, It appears it is quite normal to eat a ‘crisp sandwich’ and most people will associate it with a positive childhood memory and a comfort. So your culture, your education and your past experience has led you to perceive the ‘crisp sandwich’ in a positive way. Additionally, it also explains why we might be craving for these types of food when we lack in comfort.
However garlic snail is not part of British culture. It probably even has a bad association such as disgust so when you think about it you do not think ‘mmmh yummy’ as some french people might. Whereas if you had grown up in France, you would associate garlic snails with Xmas, Family time, Big family dinner, happy memories, etc.
Your experiences, culture, education have been stored in different parts of your brain and are constantly used to help you to understand the world and to protect yourself from any potential danger. As you have probably experienced, this can lead to many misunderstandings.
Let’s think about day-to-day life
Imagine your friend has forgotten to wish you a happy birthday.
Automatic Thoughts: "He does not care about me"
Your brain will analyse the situation taking into consideration your past experiences and culture (i.e. In our culture, loved ones celebrate the day you were born; Among family and friends, we wish each other a happy birthday)
But could it mean something else?
“He is forgetful.” “In his family, birthdays are not as important”; “He come from Mars?!”
We just don’t know what it really means as we cannot read his mind! But your brain cannot protect you if it does not know so it will try to make sense out of everything that is happening around you.
Now take a situation at work: You have received an email from your boss “call me asap’ (No Hello, no Kind Regards). What are your first thoughts? “Am I in trouble? What have I done wrong?”
Depending on your past experience with management, your first thoughts will be different and then you will feel differently about this email.
Ask yourself: Can I read the future? Can I read people's mind? NO!
If I now apply this to myself
Event: LIVE Video on Workplace
Thoughts: 'I did not manage to say what I wanted to say. I bet nobody understood. They probably thought I looked silly. I will never manage to do live videos!'
My brain first tried to protect myself by calling on that self-critical mind (also commonly called the chimp, the ego or the anxious mind).
BUT Can I read the future? Can I read people's mind? NO!
So it's time to call my rational mind and remind myself: I don't know what it means.
1. Slow down: breath deeply and stop before reacting
2. Identify your thoughts
3. Ask yourself: Can I be 100% sure that this thought is true? Is that thought helpful?
If the answer is NO, let it go. This is your critical mind trying to protect you.
4. Remind yourself that you are ok. You cannot read people's mind and you cannot read the future so you don't know what it means.