I think the following written by Marcello Spinella offers a perfect, clear
statement of an important evolutionary leap in a life…..
…there’s that atmosphere at conferences, in journal publications, etc. But
I don’t think it’s too different from other competitive jobs or situations,
like oh…family functions. 🙂 So I think the same skills and strengths
The one that I have found indispensable is perspective taking. Any criticism
or competitive interactions become much more of a problem when we
personalize them. People will criticize and judge and compete with us in
life. So what? Why is that a problem? Because we get upset about it. We only
make it a problem (and then get upset) when we personalize it and have
expectations that it shouldn’t be that way. But a situation can be handled
appropriately with or without a great deal of emotional upset.
With perspective taking, one gains greater ability (not necessarily absolute
ability) to regulate their emotion without depending on the rest of the
world conforming to their expectations. Shantideva said if you want to
protect your feet you can either cover the world with leather or you can put
sandals on your feet.
Or as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without
your consent.” In other words, it means a person becoming more aware of the
implicit choices they are making that leads to them getting upset. Making
this metacognitive shift from wanting the world to be a certain way to
regulation of one’s own cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses to it is
empowering. Perspective taking is one of the tools I have found to be very
useful in making that shift.
It’s easier said than done, of course. But it’s a skill, and like any other
skill, the more practice one gets and the greater challenge one uses it in,
the better one gets at it. It’s not a quick fix, but it is a workable
strategy. I used to need to do it on paper for a while at first, and then
got to the point where I could work through it in my head. Now it’s become
an ingrained habit. Things that would have caused a tailspin in the past
barely shows up on the radar, but not for any lack of awareness.
Marcello Spinella’s unpublished post to Friends of Positive Psychology
List–used with permission. Thank you so much Marcello!