My College Major Changed Me

I have been out of college for many years now, but I can tell you one thing, the major that I choose has changed my life.

I’d like to say that it has changed me for the better, however, it has also changed me for the worse.

Background

Once I graduated high school, I was not certain which path I wanted to take in terms of a college major. I was always told to just feel each subject out and see which one that I was drawn to, it sounded easy and like great advice and it ended up being just that!

I had many classes that I thoroughly enjoyed. I would say that my top two subjects were Psychology and English. I loved both for different reasons. Given the nature of the job that I wanted to pursue at the time and an extreme interest and passion mine, I chose to major in Psychology. Little did I know, it would change the way that I saw myself and the world around me forever.

My Love

Psychology drew me in because I have always been fascinated with the human mind and finding out why people behave the way that they do. We are all born as blank slates, yet we all develop into very different beings, that is fascinating to me!

As I took many Psychology courses over the years, I learned so much about myself and the world around me. I was able to understand why I had become the person that I was and how the brain works and responds to people and life situations. I was able to understand others better with this newfound knowledge and empathy that came with it.

It was almost as though Psychology was the book of life, it felt as if this subject held all of the answers to the complexity of the human mind and behavior. I was captivated!

The Downside

As with many things in life, there are usually positives and negatives. I adore Psychology and all that it entails, but learning this subject to the extent that I did was detrimental to me in some ways.

Years after I graduated from college, I noticed that my anxiety was much worse than it usually had been. I have dealt with extreme anxiety since I was very little. I began to realize that the way that we are taught this subject and the ways that they have us learning the material truly changed the way that my brain responded to life and even to myself.

In Psychology, we were taught to analyze, analyze, and analyze some more. We were taught to observe very carefully and taught to look at people, situations, and ultimately life in many different ways. Yes, this sounds like a great thing and it is to an extent, but it became a constant in my life.

Taking Over

I found myself analyzing my life, thoughts, and behavior to an extreme. Psychology teaches you that there is a reason behind everything and that includes people’s actions. Therefore, I was always hunting for reasons and the meaning behind everything.

I started seeing life in many different aspects. I started viewing other people very differently, I was so curious as to why and how people behaved the way they did. It seemed as though I was always searching for information to complete my analysis and observations.

I wasn’t comfortable with this new way of viewing life. I understand that these are all necessary and helpful skills to have, especially if one is to become a therapist or social worker for example, however for me, it was overpowering, and I wasn’t able to separate myself from it.

Question

I know several of you talented individuals are in the field of Psychology. For those of you that are therapists, social workers, or even those that majored in Psychology as well, did you ever notice a drastic change in the way that you viewed life and other people after studying Psychology?

Closing

This subject was and still is my favorite subject of all time. I truly adore it and there is always so much to learn and gain. There are many times that I wish that my mind wasn’t so “stuck” in Psychology mode, but given this, I still would have chosen to major in this field.

It’s pretty amazing to me that what we expose ourselves to in our life truly does have a tremendous impact on us. Just a little food for thought as you go about your day. Surround yourself with good people and try to live life the best that you can, we are like sponges are we are truly changed by what we experience for better or for worse.

It’s Just an Emotion

I have been a very sensitive person ever since I was a young girl. I remember being able to feel others’ emotions so profoundly to the point that it oftentimes would negatively impact me.

In my early teens, I would cry a lot because I wasn’t sure how to regulate all of these emotions. Couple that with being a teenager and having emotions all over the place anyway, and you have yourself a recipe for a pretty challenging phase of life.

My View

I viewed emotions very negatively in my younger years. Pleasant emotions of course were wonderful but feeling any sort of unpleasant emotion was such a great deal to me.

It almost felt that whenever I felt anger, sadness, guilt, or any other unpleasant emotion, it was magnified. I would do anything that I could to prevent myself from feeling pain or anything unpleasant.

I always felt so overwhelmed by my emotions, because not only was I feeling mine, I was absorbing everyone else’s. They call us, Highly Sensitive People (HSP).

Break It Down

An emotion is just that. It’s a feeling and if we give it power, it can consume us.

Emotions are fleeting, it’s important to acknowledge that they are there, but not place constant emphasis on them.

Emotions are a part of life and a part of being human. A lot has been going on in my life lately. I was talking with a friend, and she told me the other day that “feelings are just feelings, and we don’t have to let them play such a large role in our lives.” I started to look at emotions differently.

Suddenly, the extreme power that emotions had over me became more of something that needs management rather than bringing me from 100 to 0. I appreciate this notion that she shared with me greatly. Other people can have a profound impact on our lives!

Yes, emotions are strong, and they are valid, real, and important, but we don’t have to let them consume us. We can let the feeling stay a while and then we can work on ways of processing the emotion.

A Word Within a Word

Take a look at the word emotion. The word motion lies within it. Our feelings bring a great motion in and out of our lives.

They come and they go. Emotions are fleeting. The happy emotions we wish would stick around longer, yet the unhappy ones we are glad to get rid of.

Change is a Constant 

Everything in life changes. Sitting and dwelling on a certain feeling can prolong its stay in our lives.

We can look inside and acknowledge how we feel at a particular moment, realize the impact that something has had on us, and then chose to let it float away. Maybe not far away, but we can try to distance ourselves from it so that it doesn’t consume us and become “a part” of us.

I’m Trying 

Every day, I try not to get stuck. I try to remember my friend’s wise words about letting myself feel the emotion, but not becoming trapped in it.

It’s amazing how much humans can help each other. We all see things very differently and approach life in different ways.

The impact of another’s words is a constant reminder of how powerful they are!

One Way to Challenge False Beliefs About Ourselves

If someone were to ask you: “How would you describe yourself?” What would you say? What words would you use? This question can have many answers.

We are good a knowing who we are as an individual. We generally know our strengths and our weaknesses, but did you know that some of the beliefs that you hold about yourself, particularly the negative ones, may be false beliefs?

What Are False Beliefs?

Any belief that you believe to be true about yourself that is actually untrue is called a false belief. Throughout our lives, experiences have shaped us into who we are. Our perceptions of ourselves are a result of these experiences, however, they can be skewed without us even realizing it.

False beliefs can truly negatively impact our lives. We may become self-conscious, lack self-esteem, and our perceived beliefs can hinder our relationships.

Recall a Time

Think of times in your life when you felt a certain way about yourself, yet others have told you otherwise. Maybe you felt unintelligent, that you lacked social skills, felt unorganized, not capable, possibly you felt like you were unable to keep relationships intact, or that the world was out to get you.

As we go through life, we may consciously or even subconsciously look for things in our lives that “prove” our false beliefs to be true. We are extra keen on experiences that validate our false beliefs and sadly this helps keep this belief going.

For Example

Imagine you are having a rough day and your false belief is that “the world is out to get you.” Possibly, you start thinking of the list of things in your head that have happened to you that day and how this truly must mean that the world is against us.

Next, imagine that you have been dating someone and things got off to a pretty good start, however just a few months into the relationship you feel like things are slowly falling apart. You try to make things work, however, sadly the relationship wasn’t meant to be, and it ends. You have a false belief that you are not capable of relationships, so naturally, you feel like this belief continues to be true given what you are experiencing.

How Can We Fix This?

There is one simple way that we can implement in our lives to start melting away the false beliefs that we hold so tightly onto. For every negative belief that you hold onto, challenge it with an experience that proved this belief to be untrue.

If you think that you cannot have a successful relationship, then write down all of the people that you have a good relationship with, this could be your neighbor, friend, or family member. If you feel like the world is out to get you, write down all of the ways that life has blessed you and keep a note of the days when you feel that things went well. You will see that the world, though harsh, is also on your side.

Someone who feels like they lack social skills can write down the times when they had a conversation that meant something to them, or someone else. Think of a time when a casual “hello” was said to someone at the store, that is a success. Some people may think that they are not capable to function in this world. Recall all of the times that you did, possibly without even realizing it. Something as simple as getting out of bed in the morning, going grocery shopping, taking care of family, or completing a project or a goal, you can see that you are capable.

I Challenge You

When you have a moment, grab a pen and paper and divide it into two columns. Write down a list of beliefs in one column that you have about yourself. In the column next to it, write down some experiences that you have that contradict this belief. You may be pleasantly surprised to see that this belief of yours is false!

Our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves tend to be sneaky and it is important to visually see that we may just be perceiving ourselves incorrectly. I hope that you will find this beneficial in regaining confidence in yourself and the world around you!

Fill in the Blank

The mind is an amazing and powerful thing. Most of the time it works for us, sometimes, however, it can work against us.

Much of our thought process is automated, we see or hear something, and our brains automatically process the stimuli. Our brains are capable of thinking many thoughts, sometimes it is as if our brain is on a never-ending hamster wheel. Our thoughts go around and around.

Interesting

I have noticed something that I do automatically, and other people have told me that they do as well. When I hear of a situation, or even when I am going through something, my mind thinks of what is going on without having all of the facts. Simply put, my brain is assuming that it knows about something, or someone given the facts that it has, but much of the time it is far off.

How many times have you been left on read, experienced the silent treatment from a loved one, or have not been able to reach someone? Chances are worry and anxiety take over and you run through the worst possible scenarios in your head without thinking much about it.

How Do You Perceive the Above?

Looking at the situations above, what is the first thing that your mind comes up with? If we are left on read, we may assume that someone is busy, or we may automatically think that this individual does not want to talk to us for whatever reason. When given the silent treatment, we may conclude that we have upset someone. Our thoughts might immediately turn dark if we cannot reach someone, we may fear the worst that something has happened to them.

What do all of these instances have in common? They cause our brains to fill in the blank without having all of the necessary information to reach a valid explanation. We experience something and we think that we know exactly why it’s happening. We have made an assumption and assumptions are dangerous.

As I Grow

I still automatically think of reasons when a situation occurs, but I realize that doing so, creates a lot of anxiety and unnecessary overthinking. I try my hardest now to look at a situation logically instead of out of fear and I also make sure to directly communicate and gather information.

I have found that my usual “fill in the blank” approach to life’s situations wasn’t working in my favor, so I try very hard to gather information so that I know what is happening versus what I think I know is happening. It has made a world of a difference!

What Do You See?

Even though we are all human beings, we see things differently. Each of us has a very different perspective. Our minds have been shaped differently due to genetics and life experiences. Even someone’s personality can play a role in what they take in from their surroundings.

You could put several people in a room and have them examine a picture or video and you would get many different views on what the image or video was about. We all come from many different walks of life and when presented with something we will tend to see it based on our past experiences.

Examine This Picture

Picture #1. What is your first reaction when seeing this photo? There may be a few ways that you are perceiving this image:

  • A man who has just gotten some terrible news
  • Someone who is hearing the most beautiful voice sing his favorite song
  • A gentleman who is watching a movie in awe
  • A person who has just told a secret that he was not supposed to tell
  • Someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one

As you can see there is a mix of both positive and negative perceptions. Several people can look at the picture above and give you a completely different answer.

Picture #2. Now, let’s examine this image. Instantly a few perceptions may come to mind:

  • A woman who is upset, but is trying to hide it
  • A lady who is enjoying the sights of nature
  • Someone who is waiting impatiently outside for her loved one
  • A lady who is lost in deep thinking
  • Someone who is content and has found a moment to relax

Isn’t It Interesting?

There are many ways to interpret what we see in this world and depending on who you ask, you will most likely get a wide variety of answers.

Another interesting thing worth noting is that sometimes our mood can affect what we see. If we are feeling down or pessimistic, we might be drawn to more negative realizations. When we are feeling happy, our conclusions may be more from a positive standpoint.

Communication

Everyone having different viewpoints is another reason why communication is so very important. We can all go through an event in life, and we will describe it differently. We have all had unique experiences that have shaped the way that we see the world.

Without proper communication, we may start to assume that we know about someone or something when in actuality it is far from what we perceive it to be. Looks are very deceiving and therefore we need to rely on communicating so that we can understand what the other is experiencing.

Mini Experiment

Just for fun, examine Picture #1 and Picture #2. What conclusions can you draw from each? Maybe some of you have thought of the perceptions that I mentioned and perhaps you have a very different approach to the meaning behind these pictures!