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8) When you act, monitor the implications of your action as they begin to emerge. For example, concentrating on intellectual humility, begin to notice when you admit you are wrong.
We could then identify the definition in each case that is at the root of the negative emotion.
We would then choose a plausible alternative definition for each and then plan for our new responses as well as new emotions.
We can be fulfilled when otherwise we would have been frustrated.
In this strategy, we practice redefining the way we see things, turning negatives into positives, dead-ends into new beginnings, mistakes into opportunities to learn.
In doing this, of course, focus on four techniques of clarification : 1) Stating what you are saying explicitly and precisely (with careful consideration given to your choice of words), 2) Elaborating on your meaning in other words, 3) Giving examples of what you mean from experiences you have had, and 4) Using analogies, metaphors, pictures, or diagrams to illustrate what you mean. How a situation is defined determines not only how we feel about it, but also how we act in it, and what implications it has for us.
In other words, you will frequently STATE, ELABORATE, ILLUSTRATE, AND EXEMPLIFY your points. However, virtually every situation can be defined in more than one way.
When you are reading, notice whether you are clear about what you are reading. On a daily basis, you can begin to observe your egocentric thinking in action by contemplating questions like these: Under what circumstances do I think with a bias in favor of myself? Did I do or say anything “irrational” to get my way? Did I ever fail to speak my mind when I felt strongly about something, and then later feel resentment? (Hint: If you find that you continually conclude that a rational person would behave just as you behaved you are probably engaging in self-deception.) Redefine the Way You See Things.
When you orally express or write out your views (for whatever reason), ask yourself whether you are clear about what you are trying to say. Describe a situation that is, or was, emotionally significant to you (that is, that you deeply care about). Once you identify egocentric thinking in operation, you can then work to replace it with more rational thought through systematic self-reflection, thinking along the lines of: What would a rational person feel in this or that situation? We live in a world, both personal and social, in which every situation is “defined,” that is, given a meaning.
To make this strategy practical, we should create some specific guidelines for ourselves.
For example, we might make ourselves a list of five to ten recurrent negative contexts in which we feel frustrated, angry, unhappy, or worried.