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Our brains are still looking for that sabre-tooth tiger

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

Q: During my review, I received feedback that people think I can be negative. I have to admit that I have become quite negative lately. It’s not much fun and it’s clearly impacting me at work. This isn’t how I used to be. How can I turn this around?

Interesting fact, did you know our brain is hardwired to focus on the negative?

Solid research shows us that our brains are hardwired to scan for bad news and when it finds bad news, overly focus on it. It makes sense when you think about it in terms of evolution; back in cave man days this is how we survived, Our lives depended on it. Today our brains are still looking for that sabre-tooth tiger.

According to Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, positive and negative emotions use different memory systems in the brain and positive emotions don’t transfer as easily to long-term memory. In other words, we tend to remember the negative and forget the positive.

For example, think about how easy it is to focus on that one criticism your boss gave you even though they also said ten great things about you.

So how do you start to rewire your brain to focus more on the positive so that people will start seeing you as the positive person you used to be?

Step 1. Further to that research mentioned above, long-lasting positive relationships require a five to one ratio of positive to negative interactions in order to thrive. If your co-workers are having more negative experiences then positive with you, this will be adding your current situation. Its going to take time to shift their perception of you. You will need to be mindful about being more positive in your interactions with them.

Step 2. Follow the ten second rule: When something good happens, Hanson says, “It’s important to let yourself take it in—not just because it feels good (though that should be reason enough), but because you’re actually helping rewire your brain in that moment.” Taking that extra ten seconds takes that experience from your short-term memory to your long-term storage.

Step 3. If you start to feel negativity creeping in, focus and bring to mind things that are positive in your life and business. Notice how you immediately start feeling lighter in your body, more positive and even motivated?

Commit to taking these steps a few times a day, having positive interactions with others, taking a moment for yourself to focus on what is positive, what’s working in your life. Not only will other begin to see you in a more positive light, you will naturally start to feel greater wellbeing, positive, motivated and connected.

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