Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will. — Zig Ziglar
How often have you heard or thought the following? I have never seen things this bad. Things are really messed up. I am not surprised that happened, bad things are always happening to me. That can never work, it has never worked before. I really don’t see things getting better. I am really worried, the last time something like this happened it was really bad. I know I hear them quite frequently and often times find these things running through my own thoughts.
We have a natural tendency to seek the negative. It is probably in our ancestral DNA as a leftover defense mechanism for detecting danger. It may have helped our ancestors remain alert to hidden dangers and gave them an edge when facing a physical challenges. For us, it is a part of our nature that can get out of control and actually create danger for us. As this negative thought process tends to support worry and stress, it can drag us down both physically and emotionally. This leads to a chain reaction of worry and stress that consumes our energy, reinforces unrealistic concerns and robs us of our creativity. Ultimately, it robs us of our ability to appreciate and enjoy today.
In fact, this negative worry and stress cycle can lead to a condition called rumination. This is a term used to describe a process where by we relive a past negative experience including the emotions involved in a never ending cycle of preoccupation. We relive a single emotional event over and over again, remembering all of the bad things that happened and how that felt. This puts us back in that same situation again bringing those fear emotions to the surface that were originally meant to stir our action for survival. However, now they serve no purpose because we no longer need them. We survived. We are not currently in danger, but we make ourselves feel that way repeatedly. We have to break the cycle.
Negative things happen all around us everyday, we can’t avoid them. Ultimately we need to find a way to stay positive or we will be forever drawn into the worry-cycle that robs us of our happiness. We have to reprogram ourselves to see the positive. There are many techniques available to us to help us see the positive and stay that way. However, first we have to break the rumination cycle and stop letting our survival emotions keep us from achieving perspective on our past event and let us process it away.
One of the best techniques to break the rumination cycle is to reflect on events in the third person as it helps to remove the emotion. We no longer need the emotion, we are no longer in danger. We do not need the adrenalin boost to get out of danger. We just need to be able to process this event like any other event. A very helpful technique is to restate the situation from the perspective of a bystander also known as third person. State the event as if we are an observer. Say it simply and without emotion. After all, through the eyes of a third party, it was just another event. This is not meant to minimize the seriousness of the event, but just get us out of the action.
We will be surprised at just how much different the event replays when it is no longer happening to us. We will then see it without the fight or flight emotion of being the victim and be able to engage our reasoning to work our way through this event like we would any other event. Typically, we are able to analyze our experiences, learn what we can and abandon the rest. We do not dwell on the past or even relive the event, we just add what we have learned to our library of experiences.
To be happy there is very little other choice.