By Chris Ihrig
December 4th, 2018
We have a definition of self. The first step is deciding if we will use the default definition other people trained into us or if we’ll consciously define ourself based on our deeply held values. Our values are often tied to our “Why.” The decision is our to make.
Affirming ourself as the person we want to be reinforces a positive definition of ourself. Definitions should endure the test of time. Instead of “I will be an honest employee” use “I am an honest person.” Instead of “I will be kind to those who are less fortunate” use “I am kind.”
Affirming one’s sense of self improves adaptive functioning. When we define ourself and affirm our chosen definition, it increases our ability to adapt. We become more resilient. In a world where we are bombarded with negative events and continuous change, the ability to bounce back quickly is critical to our success.
Who are you? Who do you want to be?
What does science say about other people’s opinions?
We too often accept other people’s opinions about us as if they know more about who we are and what we are capable of than we do. We were trained this way from a young age. Developing healthy opinions about ourself requires the ability to trust our opinion about ourself more than we trust someone else’s.
If we’re surrounded by people who think we’re smart, capable, and good trusting them serves us well. But if we are being influenced by people who think we’re failures, losers, or inherently bad, their influence can destroy our chance of achieving our potential.
The people around us are usually a mixed bag; some of them cheer us on. Some will destroy our dreams before they grow wings if we believe their opinions. Science provides information that helps us reject dream destroying opinions.
Our thoughts, words, and behavior are mood congruent. Our mood influences our evaluations of people and situations. If someone expresses a negative viewpoint, mood congruent thought tells us they weren’t in a positive emotional state when they reached their conclusion. If they were in a better mood they would have noticed an opportunity or positive attribute instead of a negative one.
Mood congruent thought influences our evaluation of self. If we have a tendency to be self-critical, our negative self-evaluations further depress our mood. Because one reinforces the other, it creates a negative loop that continually feeds itself.