Have you ever noticed that when you are missing information you believe is important, your brain provides you with the information you crave? The problem is that this information is completely fabricated based on your best guess, and most of the time, your best guess has nothing to do with what’s best!
Take these made-up stories in your head and add to it the neurological fact that our brains are hardwired for negativity and you are truly heading for a disaster. This 1 + 1 = 2 adds up to a made-up negative story that results in horrible consequences for yourself.
Take the innocuous example of walking into a room and the inhabitants notice your entrance and stop talking immediately. You tell yourself the story: They must have been talking about me. Is this true? It could be, right? Of course, it’s possible they really were talking about you. But is it the only explanation? What else could be true?
If you think about other possible explanations and consciously apply the more positive filter, you might think, Oh, they must have been having a private conversation I don’t know anything about. Could that be possible? Perhaps someone had just made a serious confession about something they did they didn’t want anyone but the people in that room to know. Does that story feel a little better for you? It moves from a negative narrative—they were talking about me—to a neutral one—someone has a secret that has nothing to do with me. Is this true? You have no idea, just like you had no idea they were talking about you. Which version has you feeling better? The one about the secret, right?
With this same situation, you can go further and really stretch your imagination to think of a story that might help you feel terrific. What else could be happening? Pretty much anything because you have no idea! What would happen if you imagined they stopped talking because there is a big, beautiful surprise coming your way and they didn’t want to ruin it for you. Could that be true? It is certainly possible! Maybe you’re getting a raise, the office is throwing a party for your five-year anniversary with the company or your birthday is coming up and they were discussing a group gift. Any of these are possibilities along with a whole host of other possibilities.
So, why do we constantly go to the negative? It’s our brain trying to protect us. Our ancestors needed to be able to notice when there was the slightest change to their environment because it could have made the difference between life and death. When the birds got deadly quiet, you would know you may be being hunted in that moment. If the sun was shining for the 100th day in a row, you might need to notice there hadn’t been rain so you would move to a more fertile area before your food and water supplies dried up. If you are serving in a combat zone, you would want to notice every time something seemed out of place, because it could be a bomb designed to kill you. In these instances, it is entirely prudent to rely on your brain’s default wiring for negativity.
However, in most of your normal day-to-day dealings, you aren’t being hunted, you do not need to be concerned about a local food and water source and you likely aren’t serving in combat. It can be an excellent idea to rewire your brain for positivity. You don’t know how, you say?
Let’s start with the stories in your head. The first thing you need to do is recognize them as the made-up stories they are. The stories you create are not facts; they are simply your brain’s way of filling in the missing pieces to incomplete stories in your life. Your brain leans toward negativity so more of the stories are painful. We don’t usually make up stories that help us feel better.
But, why can’t we do that? There’s no reason why you can’t make up a story that is more complimentary and serves you better unless you are deliberately choosing to hold onto the painful story. Which you can do, by the way… you can hold onto your painful stories if you want to. But if you are interested in feeling better then you need to do the following:
- Notice when you are experiencing something painful.
- Label the emotion as sadness, fear, anger or some variation of those.
- Pinpoint where you are feeling it in your body and focus on releasing that sensation from your body.
- Also notice the thoughts that you connected to that feeling. Typically, when you experience an emotion, instead of just expressing it as an emotion, your brain is telling you a story about what the cause of the emotion is. Where did this pain come from? Oh, I know… it was the fault of my parents, my spouse, my boss, my co-worker, my child, etc. They are to blame for this feeling I have created instead my body.
- Ask yourself, when you notice those thoughts, if what you are telling yourself is true. If your thought happens to be that someone else or some experience is “making you feel” whatever emotion you are experiencing, then you can already know that’s untrue. No external thing can make you feel anything. You generate your own emotions in response to things that are happening in your world. You could just as easily generate other responses once you learn how.
- Recognize what you are thinking as the story you are making up in your head. It’s not necessarily true. You probably have no definitive way of ascertaining whether or not it’s true.
- Ask yourself if you’d like to feel better. If not, then you know what to do… keep telling yourself the same story and you will keep feeling bad.
- If you want to feel better, realize that, as the author, you can tear up that story and write yourself another one. Only this time, write yourself a story that makes you feel better.
If you’d like to learn about rewriting the stories in your head, I’d love to have you attend my Mental Freedom Group coaching program. I have just finished the first group with excellent results and I am building the second group. Currently the price is 50-percent off the regular price of $600. Group 3 will be 25-percent off and after that, there will be no more discounts. When you finish the six sessions, you’ll be well on your way to your own personalized version of Mental Freedom. If you’d like to get on the waitlist, click here. I would love to share Mental Freedom with you.