Our life is a combination of past experiences, future goals and expectations, current struggles and achievements. The way we perceive it highly depends on our perspective. However, our self-perception is often distorted by:
•Negative self-beliefs. It may sound strange, but negative self-beliefs are often developed to protect the true self from setbacks and disappointments. A person focuses on the worst possible outcome and, therefore, does not feel too bad when they are faced with another failure. Negative beliefs about personal performance soon become self-fulfilling prophecies. Of course in this case motivation can not be high, because “what’s the point of trying if it won’t work anyway.”
•Perfectionism. The disposition of thinking that anything less than perfect is unacceptable, can really distort a person’s self-perception. People prone to perfectionism are often far more critical of themselves than necessary. They set unrealistic standards for themselves and beat themselves up later for every little mistake and imperfection in their work.
•“All or noting” thinking. Our mind naturally divides everything into two opposite categories, “good – bad”, “healthy – unhealthy”, “happy-sad”, “interesting-boring” and so on. There is nothing wrong with this, UNTILL we start to see the world in ‘black and white” categories completely ignoring all the shades of gray in the middle. All-or nothing words like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘every’, ‘nothing’ are very dangerous for our motivation and self-esteem, because they rarely describe the real situation. Things are not always ‘completely awful’ or ‘absolutely wonderful’ most of the times they are simply ‘ok’.
•Blind optimism. Hoping that everything works out for the best is a good quality. Believing that everything will work out for the best without any effort or change on our part is another thing. Blind optimism, just like jaded pessimism makes us short-sighted to any possibility or problem that comes our way.
•Strong emotions. Our emotions strongly influence our mood and perception of reality. If you have just scored low in a performance test, it will negatively affect your self-evaluation, motivation, productivity and level of optimism. Just as getting the highest score can make you feel over-confident and daring.
The lastest research has shown that changing our perspective from personal “I” to impersonal “he/she” helps to eliminate self-observation biases and noticeably increase our motivation. During the experiment participant were asked to remember how much change or personal growth they had experienced since a particular event.
Those who recalled this event from the third person perspective recalled more positive changes and personal achievements than those who remembered it from the first person. But that is not all!
Recalling an event from the third person’s perspective boosts our motivation, increases our level of satisfaction with our achievements and makes us act out more positive behavioral changes.
The explanation for this phenomenon is simple. When we describe particular event from the third person’s perspective, we instantly become more impartial in our judgments and opinions.
Think about it. If your friend gets a promotion, you will probably say something like: “I’m so happy for you. You are definitely the best person for the job. They are lucky to have you!” Now imagine that you have been promoted. Would you say to yourself, “I’m so happy for me! I am definitely the best person for the job! They are lucky to have me”. Probably not… It just sounds too arrogant and vain. Most of us are not used to praising ourselves, but we find it exceptionally easy to bring ourselves down even for tiny mistakes. This is not the way to go!
We all know that we should treat others the way we want to be treated ourselves.
What we forget is to treat ourselves the way we treat others.
So whenever you are evaluating the progress that you have made, change your perspective from “I” to “he”/”she” and then marvel a little at your achievements! 🙂