What Do You Have to Do to Feel The Way You Want to Feel?
Bill Cottringer

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” ~Aldous Huxley.

While this article title seems to be a rather straightforward question, I doubt that it is an easy one for many of us to answer. First, are we really clear on how exactly we want to feel? And, the only way to find out what actually we need to do to get there is through long and painful trial and error attempts. After seven decades of more trials and errors than I want to remember, I think I have my answer to this question. I just wished I had learned this very bit of useful information long ago when I needed it most. Better late than never I guess.

Here comes my answer in ten easy points:

1. What we are all really after is what some success and self-development gurus call “authentic happiness.” We have identified many feelings we can have in reaction to situations and what we think, but for the sake of simplicity and easier application, let’s just settle on two types of emotions—negative (feelings we don’t like and want to avoid, and positive (feelings we like and want to have more of). For me, I want to know what I need to do to get the composite of positive feelings—understanding, contentment, peace of mind, significant meaning, a satisfying sense of getting somewhere, and general happiness with moments of joy and without too much unhappiness.

2. So now, what do I need to do to feel this composite of positive emotions? This was so easy and obvious, it stayed hidden from me for too long. I must simply identify and live my main purpose in life, work and relationships. And what is that purpose? From all that I can see, the main purpose for all of us in this life is to learn, grow and improve into our best selves. Next comes the challenge of finding out how to do that.

3. We each have to figure out how to do this on our own. However, we don’t have to reinvent an entire brand new wheel. Fortunately, some very big clues can come from considering the feedback we can seek, get and use as told by others about their perceptions of how well we are doing (or not). This may take courage to hear things that don’t make you feel very good on the way to eventually feeling better, so a little short term pain is certainly worth the long term gain.

4. It is not your intentions and motivations in doing and saying things during interactions with others that count most. It is more the impact you have on others as they perceive you—how you actually make people feel. Ideally, this should be aligned with your own self-development goals to make other’s perceptions of you be accurate. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

5. Most interpersonal failures are caused by unintentional defensive communication. This is the type of communication that doesn’t help with perceptions of you as being a person trying to learn, grow and improve into your best self. These are the things you may be inadvertently doing to make others defensive—such as conveying a sense of self-righteous superiority, over-certainty, over-control, intensity, judgment, disagreement, neutrality and dishonest manipulation. It really only takes ones of these to disrupt communication and ruin a good relationship.

6. On the other hand, the way to avoid creating wrong perceptions is to become better in creating right ones by using supportive communication to counter any lingering defensiveness. You can do this by carefully conveying more humble equality, tentativeness, freedom, calmness, acceptance, agreement, empathy and honest spontaneity. At the end of the day, it is these things that really make you feel the way you want to feel, however way you define happiness, success and contentment.

7. It isn’t easy to change the way people see you, as wrong first perceptions are lasting. This effort usually involves a major transformation about how you should be behaving all the time, from the valuable feedback of other’s perceptions. Easier said than done right? A very good starting point though, is to find out what a person does to be seen as likeable and I am sure you will find it is being positive with supportive communication and avoiding be perceived as negative in creating unwanted defensiveness. It really can’t get any easier than that.

8. The main trouble you will most likely have in trying to do this, is your solid ego and self-confidence in being assured you are right because of all the effort you put into getting to where you are, while others are still working on it. That may very well be how it really is, but my question is this: Does that information help you succeed and feel the way you want? My guess is no and so it may be time to quit resting and get on with the main purpose to learn, grow and improve into the best person you can be and then help others do that too.

9.Time is wasting so get with it!

10.You will not have to have brain surgery or a lobotomy to start this process. The first thing you can do is let go of what you think you know about yourself and start finding out for sure. You will probably find out you don’t need to change much of anything, except maybe what you are not noticing about how you are creating wrong perceptions of how you know yourself to be.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~George Bernard Shaw.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA and also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, The Prosperity Zone, Getting More By Doing Less, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, Reality Repair, and Reality Repair Rx. He can be contacted with comments or questions at 425 454-5011 or bcottringer@pssp.net