I hope you have found the last 3 posts on ‘Connection Busters’ helpful and that as a relationship you have put some of those suggestions into practice.
In this instalment, we are going to look at how our ‘mindset’ greatly influences our interactions, connections and behaviours in the wider world and not just our intimate relationships. The focus will be on how to recognise a negative mindset and what changes need to happen in order to shift out of the negativity.
I think you will all agree that every single one of us will experience irritation on occasions, but a person with a negative mindset tend to feel this way just about all the time and they are constantly scanning their environment for evidence to support and justify their feelings. And in this imperfect world, those evidences are easy to find e.g. “You have left the toothpaste cap off, again!” “Stop kicking the ball around in the backyard as you are damaging the grass!” “These politicians, they are all the same, you can’t trust anything that comes out of their mouths!”
What can you do to change a negative mindset?
Change is possible but it requires conscious effort in choosing to react to the world in a different way. The key here is to be present to your moment to moment experience and to scan your environment for things and people to appreciate rather than to criticise. In doing so, you are creating a new climate of praise and gratitude in your life and you will notice that instead of zooming in on a person’s fault and mistake, you will instead search for reasons to say “thank you”.
I can tell you from personal experience that this change in shifting from a ‘negative’ to a ‘positive’ is not easy to do. This is because we are hard wired to focus more on the negative than the positive and there’s good evolutionary reasons for this, which I won’t go into in this blog. I’d like to quote Neuroscientist Rick Hanson “our brain is like a Velcro for negative experience and Teflon for positive ones”. As such, if you see the importance of this change then it is up to you to ensure that you make it a daily practice because it’s only through repetition that we build new synaptic connections in our brain, which leads to long term changes in the brain, FOR THE BETTER!
To finish this point, I’d like to share one other quote from Rick Hanson “Every time you take in the good, you build a little bit of neural structure. Doing this a few times a day—for months and even years—will gradually change your brain, and how you feel and act, in far-reaching ways.”
And before you roll your eyes and think this is all too hard, let me ask you this question “what kind of relationship do you want to experience?”
World renowned couple therapists John & Julie Gottman have found in their research that, married couples who regularly express their appreciation for each other have much happier, stronger marriages.
This same principle holds true in all kinds of relationships. Regularly expressing praise and appreciation can change the whole emotional climate of your home, your workplace, friendships and extended family.
Give it a go! And remember, long lasting change will take time but you should be able to experience the subtle changes along the way which hopefully will keep you on course.
Till next blog, happy practicing.