When you open up and really look at people, really try to find the good… you will find it, and in the process of finding the positive in others, you start mastering the ability to see more positive qualities in yourself as well. I feel you thinking, “Easier said than done.”
It’s not always easy especially when prior history with them was a bumpy road or produced a negative opinion. Our brains are hardwired to pull stored information to support our thoughts. Imagine a million tiny little techie guys up in your brain. When you focus your attention on something – these guys all get to work inside your head. They frantically run around really really fast into your stored knowledge, thoughts and beliefs, and pull up the files to support what you are focusing on. (The files you created as a result of each encounter with the focus of your attention, each feeling you turned into a belief. )
When you look for the good in someone, you are essentially, giving your tiny team of techies more things to file into your filing system. But this time it’s good imagery, good thoughts. When you continually look for the good in people, and your techies update your filing system – it makes it easier and easier for them to recall the good information for you in future thought.
Everyone has good qualities – everyone! You don’t have to be a saint to be good. We all see different qualities in people based on prior experiences with them. So your experience might be far different than mine. Both are valid depending on your interaction. You have to see people for what they are. That doesn’t mean over looking the bad, it simply means while you know how they handle life and present themselves sometimes – somewhere in there is some good. So the big-headed drama queen who thinks she’s the next coming of Christ or the best thing since sliced bread might be a huge irritant, but it’s all in how you perceive her. When you look at her in the way I just mentioned – every time you see her your techie team pulls those files for you and your beliefs are reinforced. “Ahhh see”, your brain thinks, “I AM right!” You’ve created, over time, a filter in your brain that is difficult, but not impossible, to penetrate.
Now, if you were to start seeing her good qualities, her positive qualities – you begin to break through those filters slowly but surely. And then your techies would pull these thoughts for you in the future. It’s not like you have to be trust this person with your friendship again, it’s not like you have to subject yourself to their nutty behavior – but the person won’t be an irritating factor any longer. You can skip through life with a better attitude towards this person and not let the negative swallow you. Releasing your negative feelings and replacing them with positive thoughts is a great step in forgiveness, moving forward, and creating the practice (a habit) of opening your mind to see the good in all.
Some steps to open yourself up to the good in people:
Try to see what others see when it is different from your own experience with that person. (Have an open mind) When you don’t give credence to the experiences of others, you are missing out on opening your own mind. So maybe someone else sees this person as strong, maybe they are kind to animals, or maybe they are a good parent. These are all starting points for you to consider some good in that person, and let your techies file it away. Then when you come across this person again you ask your techies to pull that good up for you instead of the bad.
Stop telling yourself the same stories, stop rehashing those one way conversations in your head with the person. You cannot be open to seeing the good if you are stuck neck-high in the negative past.
It’s okay to never speak to the person again based on your past experience, but that doesn’t mean you cannot let them go on their way with good thoughts. It’s easier to stop reliving – to stop rehashing – to stop dwelling on the hurt, when you wish them well with good thoughts.