Do we tend to click on the negative links over positive? Have we been trained and have trained our minds to focus on negativity instead of positivity? Do we have a habit of expecting something bad would happen instead of something good? There might be several related questions but the answer to all those questions, remains the same.
Yes, we have tendency to choose negative over positive.
According to a recent article I read, I found something that I knew about myself and yet was surprising for me. Roy Baumeister, a social psychologist, found in his extensive research that we remember bad things more often than good things in our lives. We store the bad memories more easily, and we recall them more frequently. It seems we have trained our minds and made it addicted to choosing negative thoughts, memories and expectations.
Sounds about right? Isn’t it? Think about it.
Our negative thoughts enter our minds effortlessly, while it takes extra efforts from our end to change it to positive. It is because our brains have been so meticulously wired to think negative that it takes us conscious efforts to unwire and rewire it so it could focus on positive.
You want examples? Think about it more.
Don’t we tend to open mails that have negative subjects? Don’t we stay on the channel and watch news which have negative headlines? Headlines like “shocking incident”, “scathing attack”, and “traumatic news” give us the nudge to watch or read those. Do you ever care to watch something with the headline “peaceful” or “hopeful”? May be you do. But not as much as you want to stick on to the negative. The media sells us negativity and we buy it and unknowingly paying a huge price for that. The price is our peace of mind. They raise their TRPs through such headlines as they know us, as human, would rather buy “shocking” than anything else positive. We would rather watch the news update on a nuclear war than a peace rally.
Still don’t believe me? Think some more.
Think of the times you are about to start something afresh, a new relationship or a new job. How many times do you expect everything will go wrong and ruin it for you instead of expecting everything will go right and fall in the exact place you want it to fall? How many times at night when your brain is in an overthinking mode, you only think of all things that have gone wrong for you or all the things that might go wrong instead of all the right ones? How many times when you ponder over your past, you choose to think about all the people who wronged you than the ones who stood beside you? Even if you had an above awesome day, one negative incident distracts your thought from everything good to that one bad incident. One hell of a good person, does one bad thing, and all of us focus on his one flaw than all his goodness combined.
I can keep giving you examples, but I guess you got my point. We have been scattering negativity all over and around us through our habit of focusing on negative. We prefer negativity over positivity.
Now that I have pointed this out to you, how are you going to break this habit? Since it is both our mind and us, which have become habituated of the negative. Our mind has been wired to take up and focus on negative and not positive. And to be blunt to all of us, it has been wired by us. We have been training our mind to think, focus and live negative. So it is our responsibility to break this pattern, unfortunately, without any external help.
Our mind is lazy. If we consistently and repeatedly do one thing, it makes it a habit, without our approval. So, if we have tendency to be anxious and be negative in critical situations, our mind will keep on getting anxious and feeling negative in every situation which it thinks is critical. Therefore, to change the way, we want to react in critical situations, we must change the way WE react to the situation. We must change our anxious negative thoughts to hopeful positive thoughts. We should change it deliberately, every single time. Once we start changing our thoughts deliberately, we will find our mind calming down in critical situations and gradually making it a habit of staying calm and positive in every critical situation. For us, it will be like rewiring our brains, or re-training ourselves to shift focus from negativity to positivity.
How will you change it for every other negative foci in life? By deliberate attempts of making it a habit to choose positive over negative, by switching off the negative news channel, by choosing not to read the negative news that does not affect you, by refusing to be a part of negative conversations or arguments, by replacing negative words by positive, by expecting good over bad, and by shifting the frequency of a negative thought to positive thought, midway. Focusing on negative is our habit, and habits are broken only by deliberate attempts by us.
With time and practice, when we keep shutting down and subduing negativity and replacing it with positivity, it will gradually lose its power over us and will gradually vanish with time. And we will start choosing positive thoughts and words, expecting positive results, storing positive memories and speaking positive words, effortlessly.
Here is to choosing and accepting positive over negative, always and forever!!!