Why is it so Hard to be Positive?
Are we hard-wired for negativity?
Dr. Joe Dispenza writes in Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, “Most of us live in the past and resist living in a new future. Why? The body is so habituated to memorizing the chemical records of our past experiences that it grows attached to these emotions. In a very real sense, we become addicted to those familiar feelings. So when we want to look to the future and dream of new vistas and bold landscapes in our not-too-distant reality, the body, whose currency is feelings, resists the sudden change in direction.”
And what are those familiar feelings? Guilt, resentment, self-doubt, stress, obligations, settling, failure, being misunderstood, avoiding risk, playing it safe, duty, missed opportunities – and the list goes on and on.
We long to experience joy and passion and purpose and we head in the direction that we think will take us there. And perhaps the first obstacle we encounter brings us right back to the idea and the memory of who we think we are.
Think about it for a minute.
Is it easier to mull over hurt feelings than daydream about how you are appreciated?
Is it easier to consider the times you’ve tried and didn’t succeed or to embrace a setback as a springboard for new ideas?
Is it easier to list all the ways you’ve have to struggle, scrimp, or save financially or to be in gratitude for whatever amount is in your checkbook?
Let’s ‘blame’ evolution. In the world of our ancient ancestors, it was critical to their survival to react more strongly to negative experiences than to positive ones.
Modern science tells us that negative stimuli triggers more neural activity in our brains.
Not only that, but ‘bad news’ is detected more quickly and easily! So, maybe we are hardwired for negativity. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s just easier and we’re a bit lazy. Maybe we have so much practice on noticing and feeling the negative that we haven’t developed our ‘positivity’ muscles. We are brilliant at playing the 'negativity' game.
We are masters at collecting evidence that points out our flaws:
- I'm not lovable
- I'm not worthy
- there's something wrong with me
- I never get the breaks; No one understands me.
And we’re also masters at avoiding our genius:
- we play it safe
- we don't make waves
- we hold our tongue instead of speaking our truth
- we hide our gifts
- we settle for anything.
Many of us need some assistance and guidance in neutralizing this negativity bias. Maybe you can find a prayer partner or an accountability buddy. Or maybe you and your BFF can agree to be cheerleaders for each other and help each other when your negative self-talk rears its ugly head.
In the meantime, here’s something you can do right away:
- Soak in the ‘good.’ Even if your positive experience is mild, don’t move on from it for 20 or 30 seconds. Stay with the good feeling. Bask in the warmth of it. Don’t just give it a small recognition (if you even bother to recognize it at all) and move on quickly. Soak it in.
- Divert negativity by working on something challenging. Like a puzzle. You can shake off negative emotions when your mental energy is on something challenging, like a memory game or puzzle.
Like anything of value, it takes commitment, practice, and consistency to transform mediocrity into greatness. And you can do it. Let me know how these ideas work out for you.
Say “YES” to yourself by soaking in the good!
Janet Kingsley helps people believe in their own potential and transform their dreams into fulfilling, inspired, and prosperous realities. It’s time to say ‘yes’ to yourself and live your aligned life.