“People talk about the reality of their life as if it is important. And we want you to understand; it’s only the temporary indicator. Do you go to the gas station – your gas gauge is on empty – do you look at your gas gauge in horror? ‘How did this happen? Why, why, why did this happen to me?’ Do you lay your head on the steering wheel and just sob? ‘Oh, look what it’s come to. I’m finished. I’ve lived all of this life, and look where I am.’ Or do you just fill up.”
That quote by husband and wife authors Esther and Jerry Hicks hits at the core, doesn’t it?
How often do we make drama out of things that really are any more important than putting gas in our car? I do not enjoy getting gas, but I certainly do not make drama around it. I have not always been good about this in the past, but a learning that I have worked on over the past few years is not putting energy into negative situations. If you notice, that never gets us anywhere yet so many of us are constantly making drama out of situations we are not able to change.
Or maybe we can make a change but still want to complain about it rather than be proactive. All that energy we put into complaining about something could be put into something positive or shifting the situation.
Psychologically, our brain easily goes towards the negative. Therefore we have to choose to be different. Then we add in the fact that scientist’s show that we take in over 20 million pieces of environmental stimulus per second into the brain and we are only aware of five to nine pieces of this information.
So what does our brain pay attention to? What has the most emotional pull, and what do we spend most of our time focused on—is it negative or positive?
Now this does not dismiss taking time to grieve something sad or to voice a negative experience and/or emotion. It just means we do not create drama around it or get stuck in the story of it.
Science shows that when we get stuck in negativity, we are changing the biochemistry in our body. Just like how we feed ourselves affects our body, so does our thoughts and emotions affect our body.
The Mayo Clinic has shown that by focusing on the positive the benefits are increased life span, lower risk of depression, lower levels of distress, greater resistance to illness, better psychological and physical well-being, reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and better coping skills during hardships and times of stress.
Then in turn it shows that these same people tend to live a healthier lifestyle, and are less likely to smoke or drink excessively. Some easy behaviors to watch out for that create drama are filtering where we only focus on the negative.
Personalizing is what I see a lot of in my practice, where people assume that what others do or say is about them. Catastrophizing is when people think that when one thing goes wrong, everything is a disaster. Lastly, polarizing is when people see things as all good or all bad. Very few things are all good or all bad.
A few ways to keep us in the positive is to keep your life current. Deal with things and clean them out as they happen. Think before you made any decisions. Most decisions do not need to be made there and then. Do not make emotional decisions. Surround yourself with positive people who make you the best version of yourself. The key part here is to not be critical of yourself or others, manage your stress and make the most of each day as it is all we have.
And don’t forget time to be grateful.
And finally, one of my favorite quotes (attributed to Frank Outlaw): “Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
Need I say more?
Contact Shelly at [email protected] or DrZavala.com.