The human brain has evolved a “negativity bias”, which serves to keeps us safe.
We are innately suspicious of new situations, and once burned, we are forever twice shy. Of course, this is a survival trait, and very handy!
But when I went to law school, I found that the training takes this trait and turns it on overdrive.
Lawyers are taught to see the worst case scenario in all situations: how could this contract be broken? What’s the maximum sentence? How do we hedge our bets?
This is a valuable and powerful analytical tool, and, this is why lawyers are paid professional wages.
Yet there is a high personal cost.
When lawyers bring this perspective to their personal lives, relationships, and world-views, things can get dark, sometimes bringing anxiety, depression, cynicism, or despair.
It’s common to hear attorneys speak of waking in the middle of the night, mind racing.
One lawyer told me that their greatest wish is to get up in the morning and not immediately feel dread for all the things that might go wrong that day.
Of course, negativity isn’t just for lawyers anymore!
I submit that 90% of all advertising is designed to make us feel negatively, feeling we are missing things, we need something, things are not right and f I just had that shiny bauble it would be better.
In addition, we see entire political careers based on the message of fear, scarcity, and craving.
And, as many of us do our personal work, we find that at the core of our being is a shadow belief that I am not good enough. That the world is doomed. That nothing I do will make a difference. That I must earn your love.
For many of us there is a fundamental story of deficiency.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Even in this time of struggle and challenge, there are things we can do to calm the negativity bias and to reassure the immature and un-evolved shadow-deficiency story.
For example, gratitude is a wonderful medicine: finding little miracles to celebrate, little gifts in the day. Saying Thank You.
There is also praising or blessing someone: telling your partner, cube-mate, neighbor, child, pet, Yourself, how absolutely awesome they are and how much they mean to you.
There is taking care of yourself, making healthy choices that say “I care about me and I am important.”
There is Mindfulness, and catching yourself when you slip in to the negative rut, and then noticing it and allowing it, and then reminding yourself of the good stuff.
I am curious, what do you all do in your lives to stay positive??
And I almost forgot my fave: POETRY!!!
— Denise Levertov
Each day’s terror, almost
a form of boredom– madmen
at the wheel and
stepping on the gas and
the brakes no good —
and each day one,
sometimes two, morning-glories,
faultless, blue, blue sometimes
flecked with magenta, each
lit from within with
the first sunlight.
Bee well and please write me with your positivity practices!!!
King Bee, Fire-Tender