LOADS of us love profiling, right?
Whether that’s Myers-Briggs and your preferences around introversion/extraversion and thinking/feeling (INFJ and proud), or those colours insights (Are you a Red “don’t waste my time” person or a Blue “tell me all the details” person?) or even just those silly personality tests that we’ve all done on Facebook at one time or another (don’t tell me you didn’t do that “WHICH TINY DOG ARE YOU” quiz…).
We might even watch those profiling shows on TV like Criminal Minds or Mindhunter, where the FBI do behavioural profiling on serial killers and catch them by figuring our what fresh hell is going on in their murderous minds.
But what if we could profile our own thoughts?
What if we learned to identify our negative thoughts as characters – like a bad guy in a TV show?
If we knew what they looked like and sounded like, then when they showed up we could recognise them, right?
And instead of letting them take over our thoughts (and impact our feelings and behaviours), we could say “Hey – I know you. You’re one of the bad guys. Get lost.”
Let's take it a step further...
If we could profile our negative thoughts and identify them as Bad Guys, then what’s to stop us profiling our positive thoughts, and identifying them as Good Guys?
Before long, not only could you recognise a Bad Guy when they show up, but you could call on a Good Guy to put them in their place.
This is the foundation of The Team You Mindset.
Stay with me! I’ll bring it to life with a Bad Guy, a Good Guy, and a specific example.
I want to introduce you to a character called The Judge & Jury. Take a read through – does this Bad Guy ever show up in your mind?
The Judge & Jury says things like this...
The Judge & Jury has a profile, like the FBI might profile a Bad Guy.
The Judge & Jury makes you feel frustrated, disappointed, isolated, angry, and powerless
The Judge & Jury makes negative judgements on people based on their own standards. They have unrealistic expectations, which people usually can’t live up to.
Ultimately, they want people to be more like them. They are right and other people are wrong – and that’s more important than compromise, empathy, curiosity and positive outcomes for you. This can have a big impact on your relationships with family, colleagues, friends and even how you feel about society.
The Judge & Jury saps your compassion for your fellow humans. Rather than trying to understand them better, or put themselves in the shoes of another, they make a judgement based purely on their own opinions, strengths and perspective.
The Judge & Jury brings you frustration even when something is none of your business! You might disagree with how someone is raising their kids or doing their job, and get angry about it, even though it has nothing to do with you.
Most insidious though, is that The Judge & Jury wants to turn you into a victim. What people say and do – or what they DON’T say or do – are acts being done TO YOU. They want you to feel isolated and powerless.
The Judge & Jury wants you to believe that the world is full of people doing you wrong, rather than simply full of ordinary, mostly decent humans getting through life the best they can, making mistakes and living with their own fears, motivations, insecurities and flaws.
Not a nice character, right?
So if The Judge & Jury shows up in your team, what can you do?
There are several Good Guys you can call on. I’ll introduce you to one of them now. This character is called The Shoe Swapper.
The Shoe Swapper can be a difficult character to get your head around. It might seem at first that the Shoe Swapper’s aim is to let people off with bad behaviour.
This can be very difficult when you are feeling angry, resentful or frustrated at someone. Why should you try to see things from their point of view?!
But the aim isn’t to let them off the hook or excuse their behaviour. The aim of the Shoe Swapper is to make YOU feel better. Calmer. More in control of your feelings and responses.
The Shoe Swapper brings the opportunity for you to stake a step back, gain insight, take control over your feelings, and accept that there will generally be a difference between your expectations of people and what they actually do.
And ultimately, it will help you influence other people if you have some insight into their motivations, insecurities, situation and goals.
The Shoe Swapper brings compassion, acceptance and perspective to Team You.
Quite simply, the Shoe Swapper puts themselves in the shoes of someone else and tries to imagine things from their perspective.
The Shoe Swapper considers the different options which might be possible. This is helpful when you are feeling angry, frustrated, hurt or disappointed with another person. You might be thinking ‘They SHOULD have done X!’ ‘They SHOULD be more Y!’ You might feel they have done something specifically TO YOU. It’s a normal reaction when something has upset us.
The Shoe Swapper does not pass judgement. It is not about whether this person is right or wrong. They may well be completely in the wrong. The Shoe Swapper asks, ‘what could be going on with that person?’ and challenges you to put yourself in their shoes to gain insight.
Ultimately, The Shoe Swapper wants a positive outcome for you. The most helpful perspective for you to have. It doesn’t even matter if it’s actually true! It’s not about you being right. It’s about you feeling in control, calm and positive.
So what about a day to day example of when The Shoe Swapper can be helpful?
Rachel always had trouble dealing with Peter at work. Peter talked over her in meetings, picked holes in her ideas and didn’t speak particularly nicely to her at any time. Rachel dreaded working with Peter.
She felt angry – why is he like this to me? She felt insecure – is it because I’m not good at my job? She felt frustrated – it was hard to keep her cool around Peter. It made her feel bad – she would think about it some evenings after work.
Intervention from The Shoe Swapper
Rachel decided to try and see things from Peter’s point of view – even though he didn’t deserve her compassion! She realised Peter was desperate for a promotion, and felt he was unjustly being overlooked. He was angry.
Rachel also realised Peter felt jealous and insecure that she was getting praise for her efforts on the project they were working on together. Peter was afraid that Rachel would get promoted and he wouldn’t.
So Peter was trying to undermine her, hoping the bosses would think Rachel was less competent than him.
Did this insight change Peter’s behaviour? No. Was it actually true? Who cares! That’s beside the point.
Rachel felt confident now she wasn’t doing anything wrong. In fact, she was doing a good job. Peter had his own agenda. He saw Rachel as a threat.
She chose to feel sorry for Peter. He was unhappy, frustrated and insecure – and this wasn’t her problem to solve. This gave her a sense of control over the situation she hadn’t felt before.
She also felt more able to ignore Peter’s comments in meetings – by rising above them and focusing on the project, she was proud of herself for displaying such professional maturity.
Peter wasn’t going to change – but changing her perspective and responses gave Rachel control and made her feel better.
Some gentle challenges for you if The Judge & Jury shows up on your team
There are specific exercises we would do in a coaching session if you were struggling get The Judge & Jury thrown out of Team You and into Team F*CK YOU.
However, in day to day life, it can be really helpful to simply have the awareness of who is showing up. If you find yourself feeling frustrated, disappointed and angry with people, The Judge & Jury might be on your team.
Here are some questions to gently challenge yourself when this is the case:
- What might be going on with this person? Really try to put yourself in their shoes. What are the different options?
- How much of this is about me, and how much could actually be about them?
- What could be motivating them? What negative thoughts and feelings could they be having? The more options you can think of the better.
- What is the most helpful perspective I can have on this situation – whether it is true or not.
So, there you have it. An opportunity to profile your own thoughts and take some control over who shows up. I’d love to hear what you think!
Does The Judge & Jury ever show up on your team? Is The Shoe Swapper on your side? Do you profile your thoughts? Would this be helpful for you?