The Stories I Keep Telling Myself

For every negative story I tell myself, I feel like there's an equal story of consequence with a slightly happier tune. 

I'm a crappy writer vs. I'm working on becoming a better writer

No one's reading me vs. I'm still looking for my first follower

But as much as I reminded myself of these positive alternatives, I was perturbed by the fact that the Negative Nancies come so much easier. 

So I did some research.

The most persuasive explanation on the matter is that the whole thing is, well, evolutionary. We remember negative events in our life far more frequently than happy ones. Because recalling negative events where we've been injured, either physically or emotionally, keeps us from repeating the same mistake twice.

 Negativity, in an evolutionary sense, ensures our safety.

Happiness serves a purpose, sure,  but as far as hardcore surviving goes, we really don't need constant reminders that cheese tastes good.

But in a world where social media fails are considered "mentally taxing", these negative stories tend to do more harm than good. I know I have been blessed with the gift of never experiencing what it's like to wonder where our next meal is coming from or whether or not we'll have shelter for the night.

And for that I am grateful.

That said,  many of our "rock bottoms" really aren't bottoms in the big scheme of things. We elicit the same response to poor lighting in an Instagram post that our evolutionary selves would have to sticking our hands in fire or eating spoiled food. 

Rarely does the reaction suit the scenario. 

So, how then, if our brains are wired for survival do we rewire them for stabilization and sustainability?

Recently, I've tried to reprogram my brain to default to positive reminders versus negative ones. For every negative story I tell, I've been working on speaking its positive cousin aloud. Almost as if hearing it makes it more real.

Other than feeling calmer and generally more optimistic, I'm beginning to learn so much more about my agency in the process—in my ability to actually choose which story I'd like to believe each day. 

And perhaps for the first time in years, I've become an active author in my own story, rather than a passive character waiting for the hard times to pass. 

 

Amina TaylorComment