Why is it that it’s so much easier to think of the negative rather than the positive in almost any situation– and more importantly change it? I want you to try this exercise: ask someone to name 5 negative attributes, and then ask them to name 5 positive attributes– or for that matter ask yourself this question. Most of the time, you will notice that it’s so much easier to respond to the negative, and it feels so much more natural, almost as though our brain is trained to do so.
Additionally, if anyone else spoke to us in the way we speak to ourselves, we would be absolutely livid with them– why then, is it okay to speak to ourselves that way?
To address my first question, I find that most people are comfortable speaking poorly about themselves because it allows them the permission to not step out of their comfort zone and achieve their true potential. If I’m not capable, or I’m a loser, a fraud, a fake, etc., then how can I step up? How can I be expected to do better or be better than I am?
Understanding the science behind our negative thinking is important. My teacher and dear friend Ted taught me that it’s natural to look at the negative; it’s our way of seeking out and then protecting ourselves from danger. Originally, we were hunters and gatherers, and if we didn’t look out for the dangers inherent to our way of life, we would be eaten alive. Therefore, we should not be so hard on ourselves for only doing what is natural.
Now that we have explained ‘why’, let’s look at the ‘now what?’ How do we change and begin to have a positive outlook? How do we start seeing the positive in ourselves and others? It is incredibly important that we learn how to do so, as it will enable us to achieve our own greatness.
I think the answer is twofold: there is a biblical concept which is to stray away from the bad and then do good; however, it’s not enough for us to kindly express to ourselves a level of acceptance that it’s natural for us to seek out danger and protect ourselves from it, as today we are safe and all is okay. We must also praise ourselves and others– especially those closest to us– our spouses, significant others, children, etc. The praise allows us and others to see each other in a better light, and it builds and builds until we grow into the person we are meant to be.
The question I have for you is: how do you praise yourself and others authentically?
I find that simple praise of “thank you for acknowledging me this morning, you are really kind” truly goes a long way. Praise doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t always be some extravagant expression, but rather something simple and meaningful.
This week, let’s find a way to praise ourselves and others. Let’s be the change we so seek in others.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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