2 Ways to Alter Perception & Improve Yourself

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PerceptionLast week in Perception is Your Superpower, I discussed the philosophy behind taking control of your perception and bending it to our will, this week we explore ways in which we can begin to practically achieve this.

Knowing the theory of something useful is one thing, but it means very little without any practical application. With that in mind, we should discuss ways in which we can begin to move from an unhelpful perception to a helpful one. By moulding the personal lens we each use to peek at the world we inhabit, we can become the person we always hoped to become, the ideal self.

Whether your goal is to begin to see the world as a plethora of opportunities rather than a course of obstacles, or something more personal such as becoming more bold and demanding respect from life, we can all benefit from applying these techniques. Consider carefully the two methods below and practice them whenever appropriate in day-to-day life.

Become Aware of Self-Talk

Self-talk is exactly what it sounds like, it is the running commentary of your mind during your conscious experience. It tends to colour our lens in that it can affect what we do, how we do it, and how we feel about is afterwards.

We may tell ourselves before shooting a basketball at a hoop that we’ll never make the shot, we may tell ourselves during the movement that we’re doing it all wrong, and afterwards, we may tell ourselves that we either got lucky in making the shot, or that we were right about being bad and missing the shot.

It’s this kind of negative self-talk that becomes a downward spiral, we don’t do something perfectly, therefore, we put ourselves down with negative thoughts, which continues affecting our performance.

How to Begin

Recognising when you initiate negative self-talk is the first step towards improving it. Once you realise what it is you automatically tell yourself, you can begin to look at the thought objectively.

  • What evidence is there that this thought is true?
  • What evidence is there that this thought is inaccurate?
  • What am I expecting to gain from thinking like this?
  • What would be a more accurate or more helpful way of thinking in this scenario?

The vast majority of the time, the negative self-talk is never really that accurate, once you realise this, it becomes easier to logically change your way of thinking.

Every time the old negative thinking rears its head to cause you problems, consciously break it down through objectivity. Then substitute it with something more accurate and helpful. Do this every time you need to, it will eventually become second-nature.

Over time, you will hopefully come to see that developing a type of self-talk that serves to assist you in everything you do is infinitely more powerful than a self-talk born out of emotional instability.

Become Process-Oriented

Becoming process oriented means looking at experiences and opportunities in such a way that you value the journey more than the destination. The process becomes more important than its outcome.

Generally speaking, most people appear to be driven by the possible outcome(s) they can expect from undertaking an action or having an experience. This can work for some, but others find themselves disappointed and demotivated with this outlook, even if they reach the outcome they had initially hoped for.

Sometimes whatever the outcome is is just never good enough, or maybe it’s just not quite what they expected compared to the image they had in their head. These types of people would arguably benefit more from taking a process-oriented view of their experiences instead.

A good example to highlight the difference between these two different outlooks is an individual who is considering approaching a romantic interest.

The outcome-oriented individual is entirely focused on where the interaction will lead, whether that is extreme thoughts of rejection and anxiety, or wishful thinking of the interaction going extremely well and according to plan. Both of these extremes can lead to problems in performance, as well as disappointment with the outcome itself.

The process-oriented individual, on the other hand, is thinking about what kinds of new things they might get to discuss during the interaction, what new things they might learn, and how much they may improve at conversation after the experience. The outcome isn’t so important to the process-oriented individual, which can help them reduce any thoughts or feelings that come with investing in outcomes too much, this is because they see that the real value is in what they gain from the experience itself.

It’s worth nothing that these two types are more like a spectrum than a binary black or white, both sides see varying importance in both outcomes and experiences. It’s about letting the more functionally helpful outlook pioneer your actions.

How to Begin

As with all changes to your thinking and outlook, it takes time to become a more process-oriented individual. However, you can begin simply by thinking about your past and current experiences, both positive and negative. Ask yourself questions of the following nature:

  • What have you gained from the experience itself?
  • How did choosing to do this help you improve yourself?
  • Even if an outcome was bad, was it worth it because of what you gained from the process?
  • Does the personal growth from doing something justify the outcome?

Hopefully, you begin to see the value in actual practice rather than just the outcome of that practice.

Over time, you may start applying this sort of thinking to future events and experiences. Doing something scary will become worth it even if the outcome is negative as the experience is invaluable.

You’ll soon find yourself having the confidence to take part in all manner of experiences, because wherever it leads is not always the prime motivation.

Take Control of How Your Reality Shapes You

These approaches to perception are just the beginning in taking control of your thoughts and perception to become the best version of yourself.

These certainly aren’t new ways of altering thoughts as many psychological approaches have argued for the effectiveness of such techniques, you can think of adopting these outlooks as almost a type self cognitive-behavioural therapy.

It all comes down to swapping out your unhelpful thinking for something that will increase your happiness and your performance in the long-term.

Over to you:

What areas of life do you think that these ways of thinking can help you?

Do you think that adopting these outlooks into your own life would be difficult?

Follow Jamie Peutherer on Twitter (@Xnanga) and like the Xnanga.co.uk Facebook page for more updates. You can reach him via email directly at Jamie@xnanga.co.uk