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  • Dr. CK Bray

At War With the Person in the Mirror


Few individuals will ever admit they are at war with themselves. Research tells us differently. When you look at the mirror, you see five negatives for every positive attribute. When you maneuver throughout the day, you say eight to ten negative thoughts about yourself for every one positive thought. You don't even know it, but you may be a bully---to yourself.

The power of negative thoughts goes by several names in the academic literature: negativity bias, negativity dominance, or the negative effect. All meaning that negative thoughts, events, and emotions affect us stronger and longer than positive ones.

Psychologists have discovered that we can be deeply scarred for years by a single negative event. Unfortunately, on the opposite side of the spectrum, there is no single positive, great event in our life that has a lasting impact equal to that of a trauma event. Brain scans show the impact of bad events causes more electrical activity in the brain than positive ones do.

Take a moment to think about this. Compared to 60 years ago (1960), the average number of cars per household has doubled to two. We live in bigger homes; we have more options for food, clothing, and entertainment. Yet studies have shown we are no happier or more grateful than we were 60 years ago.

The remedy is found in learning to mind your puppy-dog-distracted-by-a-shiny-object mind. It is also found in thinking about, remembering, and celebrating the positive aspects of each day. Since our minds are fine-tuned to discover and ruminate about the negative, deliberate action needs to be taken to focus on the good that occurs each day. Writing down positive events and rating them helps the brain to recognize the truth in how your day went and also helps to build new neural networks. Sitting down at the end of the day and writing down both negative and positive events helps create a clear picture of how the day went and not focusing on the negative things that happened.

This is a crucial step to creating a life of happiness, meaning, and purpose. It is difficult to find meaning when our brains are focused on all the negatives.



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