Which events do you feel good about?
Painful experiences range from mild discomfort to extreme distress - and there is sure to be a place for them. Sorrow can open the heart, anger can show injustice, fear can warn you of real dangers, and remorse can help you act better next time.
But is there really any shortage of suffering in this world? Look at other people's faces - including mine - or your own face in the mirror, and look for signs of exhaustion, irritability, stress, disappointment, longing, and worry. There are enough challenges in life - including inevitable illness, loss of loved ones, old age, and death - without your brain giving itself an extra dose of pain every day.
As my text don't be intimidated has shown, your brain has one"Preference for negativity" designed to help your ancestors pass on their genes - a predilection that causes a lot of collateral damage today.
Neurons that are networked with one another become active with one another
Painful experiences are more than temporary discomfort. They lead to permanent damage to your physical and mental health. If you are feeling exhausted, under pressure, dejected, self-critical, or simply frustrated, then:
- this weakens your immune system
- affects the absorption of nutrients in your gastrointestinal system
- increases weaknesses in your cardiovascular system
- decreases your sex hormones, aggravates the postmenstrual syndrome
- messes up your nervous system
Remember the saying:"Neurons that are networked with one another also become active with one another." This means that repeated painful experiences - even mild ones - tend to:
- Pessimism, anxiety and irritability increase
- to worsen the mood
- Reduce ambitious goals and positive risk-taking
Dealing with painful experiences
In a couple, angry experiences lead to mistrust, increased sensitivity to relatively small problems, distance and destructive cycles. In much larger areas - between groups and nations - it is the same.
So don't take painful experiences lightly, either those that happen to you or those for which you are responsible. Prevent it if you can and let it pass if you can't.
That's how it's done
I want you to feel better
This week, make a goal of feeling the best you can. Make a decision that you will endure painful experiences when they come in the door - and choose to ask them to move on, all the way out of your mind.
This doesn't mean waging war on unpleasant experiences or worries, which will only add more negativity, like trying to put out fires with gasoline. Instead, it means that you are kind to yourself and realistically see the poisoning effects of painful experiences.
So you say something to yourself that you would say to a dear friend who is in pain: "I want you to feel better and I will help you." Now try to say that to yourself inside. How does that feel?
Awareness without edges - limitless as heaven
When emotional pain comes, even if it is mild pain, try to keep it in a large space of awareness. To put it in a traditional metaphor, pour a spoonful of salt into a cup of water and try to drink the water - Yuck. But then imagine that you pour the same amount of salt into a bucket of clean water, and then drink a cup from it: it's the same amount of salt - the same amount of worry or frustration, the same amount of inferiority and bad mood - but kept in a larger context.
Make sure that awareness has no edges, limitless like the sky, with thoughts and feelings flowing through.
Feel positively influenced or elevated by good actions
Observe in your mind how negative information, events, or experiences can seemingly trump the positive. For example, researchers have found that people typically work harder or deal with more negativity to prevent losing something than in situations where it is possible to get the same thing. And they are more likely to feel negatively influenced by one mistake than they are to feel positively influenced or uplifted by several good actions.
Try to turn that around; For example, choose some of your good qualities and watch them show up in your life this week.
Change what you can change
Watch out for when you feel paralyzed, frustrated, or disappointed. Humans (and other mammals) are very easily affected by what is known as "learned hopelessness" - the development of a sense of futility, immobility, and passivity. Focus on where you can change something, where you have power; it can only be in your own mind, but that's better than nothing.
See problems in a bigger perspective
In your relationships, be mindful of whether you are reacting more to one negative event than to multiple positive events. Research has shown, for example, that several positive interactions are usually necessary to compensate for a negative encounter. Pick an important relationship and then pay close attention to what happens in it; feel good about these things. Sure, you should react to the problems in the relationship, but see them in a bigger perspective.
Intentionally lean for the positive
In general, whenever you remember this hint, intentionally lean for the better. That doesn't mean that you see the world through rose-colored glasses. With your brain's predilection for the negative, you're just balancing the sides a little.
This article is from Rick Hanson. It was first published on his website rickhanson.net under the title Minimize painful experiences.
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