Recently I took on a new life coach client. At our first meeting he got very emotional and asked me why he felt he was always struggling with a sense of negativity. He said he had looked into whether he was clinically depressed and felt that this was not the case. “I’m not really depressed I don’t think,” he said, “but I just hear myself being negative too often and I don’t like it. I don’t want to be that way all the time.”
My first response to him was, “First, understand that you are most definitely not alone, and it’s not really your fault. Let me tell you why. Most people have never been taught that your brain is literally hardwired to focus on the negative. The hardware is designed that way.” In my view, understanding this is one of the first secrets to making your entire life better.
For ages the human brain spent most of its evolution in survival mode. The brains that could survive got really good at scanning for and perceiving threats. And we’ve all inherited that. That’s why too frequently we find our minds stuck on all the things we’re frustrated about and fretting over. This tendency to focus on the negative is the brain’s default so it’s always creeping into our thoughts and perceptions.
It is our choice, moment by moment, day by day, to do better than that. If we allow negativity to guide or even control who we are, we’re not serving ourselves, our families, or our world well.
The next time you feel yourself complaining a lot, obsessing over a problem, or hyper-focused on whatever is in your way, try to remember one thing. Your brain is creating that reality. And your brain can create something better. Stay tuned if you want to learn more.