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Positive Perception: Learn to See the World You Want: Self Regulation of selective perceptual filtering

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Literally, these describe spatial, or physical facts, but used metaphorically they describe feelings and abstract ideas. People fall into the habit of using specific patterns of metaphor that reflect their own pattern of filtering. Think about the way you complain. Do you reflexively use the same category of metaphors in your thoughts and speech (''I'm lost.'' ''I'm a dishrag.'' ''I'm going down.'' ''I'm out of it.") These can weaken you and may be automatically causing you to perceive the world in a way that steals your most pleasurable possibilities.

If you feel ''low,'' or ''buried'' or ''deep'' in trouble, try describing your problems in metaphoric terms that don't have to do with depth. Instead of thinking to yourself, ''I'm going down fast.'' Think of ''spinning'' or ''flooding'' or ''blowing'' or ''going backward'' instead. If these or any of your own ideas for new metaphors sound strange or silly, that's good. The ''wrong-fit'' feeling can help you un-freeze your negative metaphoric pattern by disconnecting your automatic negative filtering reflex. Write down your hassles for the day and, search out any negative metaphors in the description that you can replace with more positive ones.

Put Your Pain or Paper

It helps to record the miserable periods of your life as they swirl about you. Psychologist, James Pennebaker's research showed that even six months after writing down traumatic experiences, the writers were healthier than before they did so, and had a stronger immune system functioning as well. He theorizes that putting painful experiences on paper helps you to clarify and close those experiences. By describing six months' worth of suffering in writing, you bring a seemingly endless period of time into a manageable perspective. Pennebaker observes that most religions and psychotherapy systems use confession or discussion of suffering to ease pain or to make a closer connection with God. Writing out your troubles can help in the same way.

It may seem difficult or impossible to take control of your perceptions, since some of what determines your filters is in place before birth, and even more reacts before you have a chance to take conscious control. Still, you can use your self awareness and self control skills to build dynamic positive filtering reflexes and systematically create, strengthen and maintain a positive attitude that keeps you strong, caring and confident.


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