Looking for the Good in Others

Challenge for Growth Prompt #2: Looking for the Good in Others

This week’s challenge is:
“Today I look for the good qualities in others.”
When we are in a bad mood, we may find ourselves focusing on someone else’s faults. When we focus on the negative, we are likely to see negativity all around us. From time to time, Amma reminds us that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

People often get triggered into negative thinking when they are with someone who reminds them of a person that hurt them in the past. In the psychotherapy model I use, we refer to that as “putting someone else’s face” on the present day person. That process is also referred to as projection.

Clients in therapy frequently project their parents’ faces on their therapists. I remember a time in the mid 90’s when a client was always angry with the male co-therapist in one of my therapy groups. He knew that the therapist reminded him of his father, but he was having a hard time “getting his dad’s face” off of the therapist.

This therapist had some unusual characteristics so I said to the client, “Did your dad ever wear an earring?” and “Did your dad sometimes wear red toenail polish?” The client started laughing. His father would NEVER have considered doing either of those things. Seeing the differences really helped him separate the therapist from his father.

This week, for one, two, three days or longer, focus on looking for the good in others. If you have trouble finding anything positive about a person, consider whose face you might have on them. If you decide it is a parent, or a boss, or someone else from your past, identify ways the current day person is different from the one in your past. Then “de-role” the present day person by saying to yourself, “You are not (insert the name or role of person from the past), you are (insert the name or role of the person in the present).” After you de-role the current day person, you may be better able to identify some of their good qualities.

Also consider making lists of the positive qualities of anyone you have negative thoughts about, whether they be from your past or present.

Thursday night and I am at my mothers house watching her while recovers from a chest infection. I’m ashamedly doing nothing it is my aunt who is cooking dinner. I have ausculated my mothers chest, checked her blood pressure and made her a cups of lemsip. and hot tea. She was not persuaded by my arguments to venture out into to the cold and sit in the urgent care centre for 4 hours. Instead I sit at the end of her bed, with the laptop across my knees watching her eat and drink. A Nigerian radio channel is playing in the background – “It is well with my soul”. We talk about Oni of Ife and his new wife. Which leads us to talk about family matters and childhood. Turns out I started out left handed and my father made me learn to write with my right. So funny – and I do not remember that at all!

Anyway back to the purpose of this blog post. Seeing the good in others. My general appraisal  of myself is that I do see only the best in other people. How do I know this? Because people are always telling me this – especially when I make comments about people, in whom the general consensus is that they have no redeemable features.  I am clearly no saint myself – so what is that all about? Am I a bad judge of character? No. I think I just realise that nobody, including me, is perfect. I think when I am trying to see the best in others I am subconsciously trying to see the best in myself too. Why do I say this – I think because when I start seeing the bad in other people – it is because it I am seeing the bad in myself. The criticism that I have for other people is usually a reflection in what I am feeling myself. Hmm it always begins and end with me…

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