Grazing Over Accomplishments
You have accomplished a lot of shit. Don't say you haven't because I know if you and I had a conversation I could create a pretty impressive list of accomplishments for you.
Sadly we often overlook what we've done and we don't take credit for getting to where we are now. Why is this? I recently had a conversation around this topic with a client and fellow coach. As we progressed into the depths of it I had to laugh and comment that it seemed like one of those conversations you would have while passing a joint. Train of thought comments always creep into conversations - it keeps them spicy!
Grazing over accomplishments. Why do we not take stock of how wonderful we really are? Maybe its because it seems boastful or we are trying to maintain humility. No matter what the reason is, it isn't doing us any good to keep up with this practice of brushing off our awesomeness.
We don't have any problem at all focusing on the negative shit and can probably ramble off quite a list of undesireable situations or circumstances that have happened to us. Being the researcher that I am I had to look this up. And not surprisingly there HAS been research on this topic.
Here are five interesting knowledge nuggets regarding why we focus on the negative:
Obviously being aware of and avoiding danger in order to survive is one that goes WAY back to the beginning of humankind. So we make choices based on this to avoid negative outcomes as opposed to focusing on the positive experiences we may have by making a particular choice.
Negativity spreads like wildfire in a dry forest. We've all experienced this especially if you have worked in a corporation. On the other hand, positive news takes much longer to make it's way around the block.
Our brains actually have two different systems for negative and positive stimuli and the one that processes negative stimuli searches for more at warp speed and stores it into long-term memory ASAP. Disappointingly the positive stimuli processes much slower and actually has to be focused on for at least 12 seconds for it to move into the long-term memory vault. WTF?
In the English dictionary there are 62% more negative emotional words compared to the measely 32% of emotionally positive words. I have no idea what the other 6% are. Maybe those are the four letter words I adore that can be used either way.
Can you believe this one? Apparently one researcher found that we tend to think people who say negative shit are smarter than those positivity junkies. WHAT? I'll have to think more deeply on this one. Maybe we think those positive people are on mind/mood altering drugs or something.
Awareness is key. I always say this. So now that you know a little bit about why we tend to focus on the negative how can we change it?
I'm going to suggest that you make a list of all the positive things you have done or experienced. List out your accomplishments by actually writing them down. There is so much more energy in the writing process and you can come back to it easily if it is written in a journal or something you can readily pull out of a drawer when needed. You may find this easier to do while talking it out with someone else.
By doing this little exercise you go back to those moments of achievement and get back some of that feeling you had then. Or if you didn't have it then you certainly will looking back on it. I look back on things that at the time felt seriously awful but now I'm yelling out, "HELL YES I DID THAT!" High-five that shit sista!
This is a super-simple exercise that can be your feel-good, go-to resource when you are forgetting how far you have come. How about spending 12 seconds focusing on each one as you read it so you get that stuff stored in your long-term memory? Whoa - hello awareness!
*I found these little research facts in an article written by Ray Williams on the Psychology Today website. Here's the link in case you want to check it out: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201406/are-we-hardwired-be-positive-or-negative