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Psychology | Appropriate behaviour

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As we travel through life we have a tendency to believe, what we want to believe. Young girls see the models in magazines who are so slim and beautiful and they think they will be beautiful too, if only they lose weight. But although they are often underweight and anorexic, they don’t look good and don’t feel good. Sometimes people will feel one thing, but their behaviour will hide their feelings. When there is a terrible crime like murder, people are shocked by the crime, but even more shocked to find out who did it. They will often say that the killer seemed so nice!

People with murderous intent don’t walk around carrying the weapon. People who are angry and aggressive might appear to fear no one, but inside they often fear everyone. I am always suspicious about people who are enthusiastic about anything. People often behave in the opposite way to what we might expect in order to hide some dark secret.

What we believe is determined by our past. A person’s religion is usually what they were brought up to believe. I have known fervently religious people who are hiding their doubts by behaving in a way that might make others think that they are true believers. People who have been religious and have been disappointed by their religion will often become fervent atheists. We often turn against something or someone because of disappointment. People will often reject their parents or siblings because of deep feelings of disappointment.

Our beliefs are determined by other people and especially the people we care about. We define ourselves based upon what the people we care about think of us. Children whose parents clearly care about them tend to be confident, happy with their appearance and have few doubts. Children who are constantly criticised by their parents grow up full of doubt and lack confidence.

We have a powerful influence on what others believe, especially what the people who care about us believe. We should be careful not only of what we say, but the way we say it. Even giving someone praise can sound sarcastic if we don’t express it in a genuine way. If you reply, “very nice” when a woman asks how she looks, that can be a big mistake. Your tone of voice might convey disinterest or worse, sarcasm.

We take in information using our senses of sight, hearing, smell and touch, all the time. We constantly analyse, without even knowing that we are doing it. We are constantly being analysed by others too.  The designer labels on some products are very small, but people still pay attention to them. They have less importance than many people imagine, however. We do get an impression of people from the way they speak, their dress and even the way they smell. Expensive perfumes are seen as very desirable, because the way people smell tends to influence us subconsciously.

We all want to create a good impression and often this means dressing and behaving appropriately for the occasion. In offices the dress code is more casual than it used to be, but it can still be very formal. The right dress can inspire confidence. A hospital doctor in a smart suit or a white coat will inspire confidence, but if he wore a trendy tee-shirt and designer jeans he might invoke fear or nervousness in his patients.  The smart suit can be seen as intimidating in certain situations though and so be counterproductive. Women often have more choice when it comes to dress and so can appear more casual and relaxed by choosing a more casual style of dress. This will allow them to appear more approachable and less formal in the office. When given a choice, people might choose informal rather than formal when choosing to deal with someone in a bank, for example.

The key then is to behave appropriately and dress appropriately for the occasion.  Sometimes that means dressing smart but casual, so that we can appear approachable. The way we behave does change as we get older, but we don’t have to behave like our parents did. I think I behave younger and dress younger than most of my peers. People tend to think I’m younger than I am and often forget that I can’t do some of the things I used to! Most of the time, we seem to run on automatic, not thinking about what we’re doing. We make decisions, but we are only actively making decisions about 1% of the time. We might choose to dress for a special occasion, but once we are dressed we don’t think much about it. When we’re driving we don’t think about all the controls that we have to use, we just do it. We are so practiced at it that our minds are free to concentrate on watching signs to find our way or even holding a conversation with our passenger. We are still watching the road in front of us and taking in information and we will often pause the conversation while we do a difficult manoeuvre. We recognise that we can  be subject to information overload and will concentrate on the most important task to the exclusion of all else. We are adept at multi tasking, we can do many things at the same time, but do have to stop to think and adjust our tendency towards ‘automatic’ behaviour. If life isn’t going the way that we want it to, that’s when we need to stop and think and make adjustments. We have to be able to recognise problems and try to formulate new solutions. This is when we sometimes need help and will ask for help from a family member, friend or a professional like a doctor. It is hard to adjust our ‘automatic’ behaviour that we have programmed into our brains in the light of something new in our lives.  We have to stop and think, make decisions and maybe get help with those decisions. When a new situation that we aren’t familiar with presents itself, we don’t know what’s appropriate and so we might have to ask.

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