Our brains are wired to respond to threats and negativity as a way of protecting us from danger. This means that we pay more attention to negative thoughts and words than we do to positive words and thoughts.
When therapists encourage clients to turn negative worries into positive affirmations, the communication process improves and the patient regains a sense of self-control and confidence. But there’s a problem; the brain doesn’t respond as rapidly because there is no sense of danger.
3 Positives For Every Negative
To counter-balance our propensity for negativity we must consciously repeat as many positive thoughts, words and feelings as we can. Barbara Fredrickson, one of the founders of positive psychology discovered that we need to generate at least 3 positives for every negative uttered.
So in relationships, if you say something nasty to another, you need to follow it up with at least 3 positives to neutralise their opinion of you and 5 positives to calm their brain enough to be able to relate to you in a civil manner once more.
Body language and facial expressions also count ie: a sideways glance, a frown, a roll of the eyes. Thoughts or comments like “I’m so disappointed” or “I’m not good enough’ or “That’s not what I’d hoped for’ bring us down more than we realise.
The Power Of Positive Thoughts
The good news is that your positive thoughts and words don’t even have to be rational, they will still enhance your sense of happiness and wellbeing and life satisfaction. In fact, positive thoughts and language can help anyone build a better and more optimistic attitude towards life because positive words and feelings ignite the motivational centres of the brain into action and they help us build resilience when we are faced with problems.
A great thing to teach your kids is to regularly engage in positive self-talk, share fun experiences with others and relive them through photos and stories. Learn to savour every positive experience, the more you think about it the more the brain remembers, relates and relaxes.
So choose your words wisely and speak them slowly, this will allow you to interrupt the brain’s natural tendency towards negativity. The mere repetition of words like love, peace and compassion will turn on specific genes that lower both physical and emotional stress.
With positive thoughts, words and feelings guiding your life, you will feel better, live longer and build deeper, happier relationships with others at home and work.
Make A Game Out Of It
Our family make a game of it – every time one of us says something negative, we have to counteract it with 5 positives – it’s harder than you think! Give it a try with your family and notice the difference.
How do you instill positive thinking into your family? Tell us in the comments below.
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