Are they helpful, kind thoughts? Or are you more like me and have a tedancy towards more negative thoughts, especially towards yourself.
As human beings we’re hard wired towards negativity. It’s known as negativity bias and it’s there to help us avoid danger.
As with fight or flight, negativity bias was helpful during prehistoric times when the threat of physical danger was real. But our amygdala (the bit of the brain that deals with emotional response) hasn’t really evolved to keep up with us and still uses two thirds of it’s neurons to detect bad news!
So there’s no wonder our neagtive thoughts can dominate! But there’s plenty we can do about it. We can respond instead of react.
1. Recognise – thoughts are so often automatic. The more aware we can be less likely we are to react automatically instead of respond thoughtfully.
2. Challenge – what’s the evidence to support the thought? Are we precicting or mind reading? Are we thinking in an all or nothing way (“this always happens to me” for example). Is the thought helpful?
3. Perspective – how would someone else look at this? What advice would I give to a friend? Will this be important in 6 months time?
4. Keep practicing – what works for you? Don’t bog yourself down with loads of rules. I like “evidence”. Choose one and keep it handy for when you need it.
It’s Mental Health Awareness week – here is my little freebie to help you keep the equilibrium. Pop it on your phone as a screen saver, share it with friends and family and pop it on the fridge as a daily reminder.