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Self Improvement

102 SAVED IDEAS

Clothing as part of our identity

Behavioral psychologist Dr. Carolyn Mair states that clothing is so close to us that it becomes part of our identity.

The clothes we wear shows how we want to be perceived, but how we are seen depends on the viewer.

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Self Improvement

When we meet someone new, it takes under a second for us to construct our first impression based on how they look.

If we like the way someone looks, we may think of them as successful, pleasant, and intelligent without knowing anything more about them. From there, we tend to look for traits that will confirm our initial judgment of them.

  • A study showed that lab coats are associated with attention and care.
  • Another experiment showed that people who wore lab coats performed better on attention tests than those wearing painters' coats.
  • People who receive compliments when they wear certain items of clothing may feel more liked and influential when they wear that item of clothing.

Sending messages on social media that equate objects like clothes with mental health can be harmful when people are dealing with deeper mental health issues. Clothing can help us feel empowered and authentic, but it can't give us mental wellness.

In the fashion industry, people that don't fit the thin, young, white, eurocentric image are marginalized with less opportunity to communicate identity and feel empowered. This can harm people's self-esteem when measured against the norms of society.

  • Position a mirror in a well-lit space so that you can see into your eyes. Sit on a meditation cushion or chair with feet on the ground. Sit with yourself for 10 minutes.
  • Tune in to your breathing while breathing regularly.
  • Gaze into your eyes. Is your gaze harsh or soft? If hard, try to soften your gaze.
  • Observe your inner critic, then see the person under that critic. That's who you really are.
  • Notice any sensations or emotions that arise and allow them to be there without judgment or interpretation.

You may be surprised how your view of yourself can change.

Authenticity In Psychology

Our lives are uncertain and impermanent, and paradoxically, this can lead us towards living authentically, as we realize that death is unavoidable, values are subjective, and life by itself is flux.

The Self-Perception Theory reveals that people manipulate their own information so that the audience is impressed. People portray authenticity and manipulate their behaviours to appear real when it is necessary.

  • Self-esteem is a sense that is experienced when our true motives, feelings, values and self-perception are operating without any obstacles. This increases our self-worth.
  • Modern technology, especially intrusive wearable devices is a disruptive change in how we exist in the world, with our authentic self, like our face or biometric information available to others.

A good life doesn’t mean a lack of problems, but having a diverse range of enriching experiences of all kinds. We realize that a complete, fulfilling life is a process, not an outcome.

When we fully develop our potential and live authentically, we experience meaning in life and personal growth with whatever is thrown at us. We are sincere, grateful, mindful and expressive. We engage in positive activities like volunteering, donating time or money, or helping society in other meaningful ways.

Know Yourself + Own Yourself + Be Yourself = The Authentic Life

Authenticity is achieved when we are outside what we are inside. Putting on an inauthentic self (faking authenticity) is tiring and also damaging to our mental health.

We should be aware of our body, listen to the voice inside, amplifying the hopes, dreams and fears. We have to know ourselves, face our truth and then own ourselves. Being yourself means being honest, sincere and genuine, the pathway to authenticity.

  1. Are you free to make your own choices?
  2. Can you express your own views and opinions without fear?
  3. Can you be yourself on a daily basis?
  4. Are you true towards who you really are?

If you are answering these questions as Yes, you are living an authentic life.

Authentic people are vulnerable and constantly enter a state of mutual vulnerability with others, taking it as a source of strength instead of a weakness.

Vulnerability is the wellspring from which love, belonging, joy, empathy and creativity erupt. When business leaders show humility and vulnerability, their team feels a stronger, authentic connection with them.

A human being’s natural inclination is always authenticity, as seen in every child, who is authentic by default and loves everyone unconditionally. The fault lies in how some kids are raised and how their self-identity and ego starts to develop 18 months after they are born.

A developing child of an authentic parent is free to choose their path, with no impositions. But even then, the love they learn is often conditional, as it is almost always related to good performance, or securing good marks, which can pave the way to inauthentic living as an adult.

As parents, our children should get unconditional love from us, instead of being tied to excelling in school or sports.

If we wish our child to be authentic, we have to stop putting conditions on our love towards them.

Happiness is misunderstood

Happiness is often misunderstood as the presence of positive emotions and the absence of negative ones.

  • It leads to work cultures that put pressure on people to show false positive emotions.
  • Associating being happy with being cheerful all the time creates another problem. Happiness can be classified as less serious and superficial, resulting in universities that avoid developing "happy" graduates.

Happiness is more than developing positive emotions. It also includes two other parts.

  • Having a clear and meaningful purpose.
  • Developing resilience enables us to deal with negative emotions when they appear.

Employers need to ensure workers can do engaging, meaningful and purpose-driven work to help achieve effectiveness and productivity.

People bring three dimensions to the job market: Physical, cognitive and emotional. Machines can take over both the physical and cognitive dimension. It is only in the emotional domain where humans still reign.

With increasingly more automated jobs, humans can still add value around creativity, relationships and self-fulfilment.

EI consists of four domains: self-awareness, social-awareness, self-management, and relationship-management.

Two daily exercises can help create foundational habits for EI.

  • Brain rewiring. Stating five things you're grateful for can help with gratitude.
  • "My emotions today", where you articulate your feelings, can help with emotional awareness.

Meditation and developing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Relevant and Timely) goals, a mission statement and a personal vision statement can also help to strengthen your EI.

Aristotle argued that we become what we habitually do. If we spend our days thinking of everything that has gone poorly and how dark our future appears, we can think ourselves into misery.

While we should pay attention to the many injustices to be righted, we can also make the world a better place by being aware of the good things it already affords. We can change ourselves into the kind of people who seek out and celebrate things we can be thankful for.

  • In Judaism, the first words of the morning prayer could be translated, "I thank you."
  • From a Christian perspective, thanksgiving is vital. Jesus gives thanks before he shares his last meal with his disciples.
  • The 55th chapter of the Quran lists all the things humans have to be grateful for - the sun, moon, clouds, rain, air, grass, animals, plants, river, and oceans.
  • Hindu festivals celebrate blessings and offer thanks for them.
  • In Buddhism, gratitude develops patience and serves as an antidote to greed.

One way to cultivate a disposition of gratitude is to give thanks regularly - at the beginning of the day, at meals, and at the end of the day.

Holidays, weeks, seasons, and years can be punctuated with thanks - grateful prayer, writing thank-you notes, and keeping a gratitude journal.

When Psychology Became A Separate Scientific Discipline

When psychology developed as a science that was separate from biology and philosophy, they did not know how to describe the human mind and behaviour.

Different schools of psychology emerged that represent major theories within psychology. At first, psychologists identified with only one school of thought, but today, most psychologists draw on ideas and theories from various schools.

  • Structuralism was the first school of thought and focused on breaking down mental processes into their most basic elements using techniques such as introspection. Major thinkers are Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener.
  • Functionalism formed as a reaction to the theories of structuralism and focused on the role that the mental processes play instead of the mental processes themselves. Thinkers associated with this outlook include John Dewey, James Rowland Angell, and Harvey Carr.
  • This school of psychology is based on the idea that we experience things as unified wholes.
  • The approach started in the late 19th century in response to the molecular approach of structuralism.
  • Instead of breaking down thoughts and behaviour to their smallest parts, the gestalt psychologists believed you should view the whole of experience.
  • Behaviourism suggests that all behaviours can be explained by environmental causes. It includes classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
  • This school of thought became dominant in the 1950s and had a significant influence on the course of psychology.
  • It is still widely used today, such as behavioural training, token economies, aversion therapy, and behaviour modification programs.
  • Prominent thinkers are John B. Watson, Ivan Pavlov, and B.F. Skinner.

Psychoanalysis emphasises the influence of the unconscious mind on behaviour.
Sigmund Freud found this school of thought. He believed that the mind was composed of three elements that interacted to create complex human behaviours:

  • Id consists of primal urges.
  • Ego is the part of personality that deals with reality.
  • Superego is the component that holds all of the ideals and values we internalise from our parents and culture.

Major thinkers include Anna Freud, Carl Jung, and Erik Erickson.

  • Humanistic psychology is a response to psychoanalysis and behaviourism and focuses on individual free will, personal growth, and self-actualisation.
  • This school of thought is focused on helping people achieve and fulfil their potential. It had a huge influence on positive psychology that centres on helping people live happier and more fulfilling lives.
  • Major humanist thinkers include Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.
  • Cognitive psychology studies mental processes, including how people think, perceive, remember, and learn. It is related to other disciplines such as neuroscience, philosophy, and linguistics.
  • This branch of psychology emerged during the 1950s as a response to behaviourism that failed to account for how internal processes impacted behaviour. Research topics include information processing, language, memory, and perception.
  • Jean Piaget proposed the stages of cognitive development theory.

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