Have you ever noticed that our worst suspicions are usually confirmed? Or that we tend not to have best suspicions? That we attend to negatives much more readily than we attend to positives? Or that some of us (seemingly) don’t notice positives at all? Well, it probably comes as no surprise that we see what we want to see (e.g. negative people see negative things). Also that we tend to create the circumstances in which we see what we expect to see (e.g. negative people create negative situations and, thus, see negative things) . What may be surprising is finding out that we’re wired for negativity?
Simply put, the brain emphasizes negative events and the many details that surround them. This is both a physiological and a psychological phenomenon. A quick Google search will expand and underscore the validity of this point. With this in mind–literally (teeHEE)–our challenge is to get past our hard-wiring to recognize more of the positive aspects of ourselves, of others, and of our world. Our goal is to make the most of these positive aspects to live rewarding, happy, and full lives.
So how do we look beyond the negatives when we are wired to look right at them? For starters, we confront our negative thinking: We understand and “accept” our negative disposition and we critically interpret our thoughts. When we question our negative thinking, we enable ourselves to question and impact our negative judgment–and to empower positive reinterpretation, if not positive thoughts. This is by no means an easy task, but it is definitely a possible one. Few realities are completely negative and even the slightest negativity can benefit from a realistic, inquisitive, and positive counterbalance.
It turns out that our thoughts are only the tip of the iceberg. We also have to confront our negatively oriented selves. To do this we need to be mindful of and attentive to our negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Many of us say that we know ourselves, but very few of us mindfully consider or are even aware of what motivates us to action. We need to look behind our thoughts to understand the root of our negativity. When we confront negativity, we occasionally confirm the reasoning behind it. Far more often, however, we disconfirm faulty or nonexistent reasoning and gain freedom from misconception. Once again we’re in “easier said than done” territory, but negative learning can be unlearned and negative habits can be broken.
So, we’ve confronted our negative thinking and our negative selves. What else can we do? Well, we can practice putting a positive spin on life. This can be as simple (or as hard) as attributing one positive aspect to every person we interact with on a given day. Or one positive motivation to every activity we do on a given day. Or one positive dimension to what we wear, or eat, or say, or intend, etc., etc. This task can be as easy or as challenging as we make it, albeit the more we challenge our negative selves the more we can experience our positive ones.
These are but are few of many ways that we can confront (and inevitably overcome?) our negativity. Surely many other ways exist. Every individual brings and responds to an individually oriented approach. Every individual is also unique–to include uniquely negative. What works for me may not work for you, just as what’s positive to me may not be positive to you, and vice versa. Regardless, consider the negativity of your thoughts, or your self, and of your motivations. Then put forth your own positive effort. Put forth your own positive thoughts. Before long, we’ll both be more positively motivated to put forward our more positive selves.