I’m a Psychology junkie. It turns my crank. Psychology explains everything. And understanding is the first step toward compassion. I love it so much that I went back to school! A few years ago, I was lying on a Jamaican beach reading The Brain That Changes Itself, an amazing book about neuroplasticity.
“Omg! Did you know that the brain can remap itself?” I kept interrupting my friend’s orgasmic Danielle Steel moments. Kind of ruining the moment for her.
“Neurons that fire together wire together! This is freakin’ wild!” This was more excitement than I’d had in years … Ahem.
“You should go back to school. And study Psychology.”
I immediately heard choirs singing The Hallelujah Chorus …. whenever I hear this, and it’s obvious no-one else does, I call it a defining moment. I heard it once when the ADT security guy that came to my door was not a balding middle-aged man with a paunch, rather a McDreamy look-alike stood on my step wanting to make sure I felt safe … Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!!!
And school did not disappoint. I’m about to enter my senior year as a Psychology major! And the stuff I’ve learned! I tell my kids that it’s like Christmas turkey dinner every single day! Actually, that would lose its appeal pretty quickly, but Psychology and learning just gets better and better! J.A.M. and Mr. President probably deserve honorary degrees since they’ve listened to me regurgitate countless lectures! Life is a beautiful progression … I used to talk about my kids, then my dog took centre stage, and lately Psychology has top billing.
I want to share with you what I’m learning. You’re gonna’ love it, and you may even start to understand yourself a little more. It has changed my life. Because understanding led me to compassion who introduced me to healing.
I love Social Psychology. It looks at human behaviour in a social context. Which I think pretty much sums up our day-to-day living.
There’s this neat theory called Attribution Theory. In short, it tells us how we tend to explain events. There are two types: Internal and External.
Stay with me; this gets good!
Internal Attributions assign the cause of behaviour to internal characteristics, such as personality. Whereas, External Attributions assign behaviour to outside forces, such as situational events.
Now, here’s the really interesting part: When explaining our own behaviour – screaming at our partner, being rude to a waiter, and so on, we tend to use external attributions. My partner doesn’t listen! The waiter was too slow, and I was late!
BUT when explaining the behaviour of others, we tend to use internal attributions! Mary screams at her husband because she is a control freak! He’s rude to the waiter because he’s an arrogant a**hole!
It’s kind of like when the Blue Jays win, we say “We won!” But when they lose, we say, “They lost!”
Hope Solo in the recent Olympics had it all wrong.
The US Olympic women’s soccer team FAILED TO WIN.
And it wasn’t because THEY PLAYED A BUNCH OF COWARDS!
There’s an example in a big-scale, world-stage kind of way, but we do this often in a daily effort to protect ourselves and our egos! How much more endearing is the athlete who admits, “I gave it my best, but they gave a little more today!”
Pay attention today. Note how you react to the daily grind. When it feels ugly, self-compassion, self-compassion, self-compassion. Then, take responsibility.