Updated: Dec 19, 2021
It has occurred to me that we as a human species are very good at thinking negatively about ourselves. Many people have a harsh inner critic and often get caught in self-doubt because of it.
I remember during childhood my girlfriends and I often discussed which part of our bodies we didn't like. Which specific part of ourselves we thought was the worst of all, and that we wanted change. And in school we had to spent most of our time on improving the things we weren’t good at.
No wonder we are extremely skilled in negative thinking when all we do from a young age is priming our brain to focus on criticising our looks and abilities.
According to the authors of Buddha’s Brain the problem is that “our brain preferentially scans for, registers, stores, recalls, and reacts to unpleasant experiences; its like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones. Consequently, even when positive experiences outnumber negative ones, the pile of negative implicit memories naturally grows faster. Then the background feeling of what it feels like to be you can become undeservedly glum and pessimistic.”
Given the negativity bias of the brain, it takes an active effort to internalise positive experiences and heal negative ones.
Last week I was facilitating a workshop with a group of women and it felt like nothing had changed since childhood. These women were still full of insecurities and really good at pointing out all the things they didn’t like about themselves. These negative thoughts often ruined their day.
In ancient times the Stoics already realised that life plagued with negative emotions - including anger, anxiety, fear, grief, and envy - will not be a good life. Their priority was therefore to change the way we affect ourselves, our own thoughts and feelings, through positive language in order to feel more confident, peaceful, and joined with all things. The goal of the Stoics was not to banish emotion from life but to banish negative emotions. They already understood that when you tilt toward what’s positive, you’re actually righting a neurological imbalance.
We all know how self-doubt, criticism and perfection drain our mental resources away from the important things we should be focusing on. Therefore with Alta my mission has been from the beginning to help people with bringing about the positive emotions and perspectives. To only focus on and foster positive experiences- and take them in so that they become a permanent part of who we are.
Have a lovely Sunday,