In Part One we heard from a reader who did not feel right being nice to someone he found to be difficult because it felt phony to him. However, since the chances are that people such as he or she aren’t going to be nice to you first (which is what he felt should happen before returned those actions in-kind) the suggestion was that we can actually “act our way” into liking that person. From there, reaching out is easy. And, the results will be to turn this current or potential enemy into a friend.
This is not the exact same thing as positive expectation (where the focus is on them) but actually changing our thoughts about ourselves and our feelings.
So, back to developing the characteristic of feeling good about someone we really don’t like? The way to feel it is to first act it! While we say this in the title, we actually barely alluded to it in the previous article.
So, here’s the principle: “Action precedes feeling.” It’s amazing how it works.
For example, a person is sad. Do they need to have a happy incident occur “to” them before they can be happy? No, it’s been proven that if you act happy, you will become happy. While many authors, including Marcy Shimoff, in her excellent book, Happy For No Reason explain exactly why and how it works, including the effect within the brain, we don’t need to discuss that here. It’s just enough to know that it works.
Happiness is independent of external circumstances (which doesn’t mean there aren’t external circumstances that can legitimately cause sadness, but not as a general way of
being). Change your actions and you’ll change your emotions.
For example, smile really, really big – I mean, from “the inside out” – and just try to feel sad. Can’t do it. 🙂
If you’re feeling lazy and lethargic, straighten up, walk tall, walk fast, walk with purpose and energy, and that’s exactly how you’ll begin to feel.
So, in answer to the original question in Part One, Practice “feeling” good about a difficult person by “acting” good towards that difficult person. Yes, at first it is an act. That’s okay. Perfectly acceptable. Then, when the person picks up on your action and relates more benevolently towards you in return, your good feelings really will be true.