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Many of us are prone to awfulizing and catastrophizing. If you have been learning about our minds and how they developed in these pages, you know this is how we have survived. The negativity bias, also explains this to a large part. Our brains pay attention to the negative more than the positive. There are countless experiments and situations where this has been proven. All of us are this way not just you. However, If you struggle with anxiety or depression, you may have a stronger negativity bias then most.
When you begun to think too negatively, too often your brain becomes lazy and comfortable with it. you haven't really given it your consent to do this, and your brain isn't really thinking it through.
The negativity bias is not necessarily a good thing any more, and our brains may begin to use it indiscriminately. If you have a negative brain your ancestors may have been champions at survival. Congratulations! However, consent is an important concept. We don't want our brains doing things without our consent.
Thankfully, over the last 50 years or so, we have learned that our brain can change and grow in dramatic and wonderful ways. This concept is known as neuroplasticity. For a fascinating look at this concept, check out Norman Doidge's site here.
Neuroscience has shown us that one way we can stop our negative thinking, or at least control the impact it has on us, is to practice mindfulness strategies. Mindfulness strategies help us to become aware of what our thoughts our telling us, to question the reality of them, to notice the impact of them, and to choose another pathway.
In the midst of a negative thought chain, our brains will up as much evidence for the worst along the way. Mindfulness is the antidote or neutralizer to this pattern.
Science has been studying the benefits of gratitude over the past few decades, something spiritual traditions have taught for centuries. By first becoming mindful of our negative thought patterns, and then practicing pausing and challenging them, we can choose another pathway.
We now know that we can in fact retrain our brain to look for the positive and good in the world, and in return experience profound results of joy and happiness that impact all areas of our life.
In choosing to orient our brain towards the positive, rather than the negative, we create a different pattern in our mind. We can begin to see the positive, and then we will look for evidence along the way of good, creating a positive thought change, the end result of which is happiness and joy and more fulfillment.
Our brains have the capacity to be influenced by our thoughts and then pay attention to things to reinforce those thoughts. Why not practice taking control of our brains rather than letting them control us? We have the ability to create a different brain with some practice and commitment, one that is more positive and less negative.
Practices such as meditation, self compassion, gratitude, and savoring are some of the things we can begin to do to start to change the orientation of our minds.
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This page is about how self-compassion and mindfulness and skills such as forgiveness, kindness and compassion can help us with depression and anxiety.