It can be too easy to try and feel better about ourselves by putting others down. Sometimes we realize we are perpetrators of such behavior, sometimes we are the targets of it.
Can you think of a time when someone hurt you to make themselves feel good? Or when you hurt someone to feel better about yourself? This may be hard for you to admit.
Whether it’s teasing a friend, throwing shade or just plain bullying, it can be tempting for someone to engage in negative behavior as a quick fix for boosting their self-esteem.
It’s an easy win, but a cheap shot.
Ask yourself, what is it about the target of this behavior that makes the person want to hurt them? In what way does making them feel bad make the other person feel good?
That good feeling, that ego boost when someone is mean to another, is a dopamine hit. It’s a positive chemical response triggered by a negative reaction.
If you find yourself expressing negative opinions about someone, ask yourself: What could you do to give yourself that same dopamine hit? What could you do that would make it stronger?
What thing could you do to be nice to that person? To give them a dopamine hit? What could you do that would make you both feel good?
If you are the target of the negative opinions, what good thing could you do in spite of this? What thing, real or imaginary, would give you a dopamine hit powerful enough to counter their negativity?
Really picture it. Close your eyes and live that experience. Even just imagining it can trigger a release of dopamine in your brain.
Imagine a time in your life when you felt confident, felt good about yourself. What were you doing? Embrace that feeling of joy. Pinch your thumb and forefinger together to ‘lock in’ this feeling. Whenever you need to access this, whenever you’re feeling low or vulnerable, pinch your fingers to trigger the feeling.