Have you ever found yourself ‘taking things too personal’? Replaying something someone said to you over and over in your head, reliving the negative emotions you felt? Trying to understand why they said what they said and why it hurts so much?
Human beings are naturally predisposed to give more importance to what brings us pain.
A famous experiment by Kahneman and Tversky showed that our pain of losing something, on average, is 2.5 times stronger than our joy of gaining that same thing. On top of that, if the family and cultural ‘soup’ you grew up in included high doses of criticism, you might have what Jeffrey Young called the ‘unrelenting standards’ self-defeating pattern. People with this pattern tend to tilt their awareness even more in favour of negative feedback, becoming very sensitive to it in certain situations, ‘taking things personal’. Over time, this can put a strain on your relationships. It can make you hold back from engaging fully in what you do, because the more you put into it, the bigger the potential of getting hurt when others don’t appreciate it.
Once you’ve spotted the tendency to exaggerate the negative within yourself, you can work your way to a more balanced way of being.
It all begins by acknowledging that:
- Your mind is naturally unrealistic, magnifying the negative and minimising the positive;
- If you feel overly sensitive to others’ negative feedback, it is because due to your background your mind’s comfort is to run those negative scripts over and over. You are used to being harsh with yourself, thus it’s easier for external input that resonates with that pattern to be planted and grow within you.
Once you decide it’s something you want to shift, all it takes for you to return to balance is to make a conscious choice to look for ways to:
“Magnify the positive, minimise the negative”
Here are some examples of how this can look like in practice.
1. Magnify the positive
First, go back to something nice someone told you recently. Take a moment to remember it, close your eyes and allow yourself to receive their care, love and appreciation. Let it spread down to your body, allow yourself to feel your own appreciation for being appreciated. See how it feels, is it different from the way you reacted when it happened? If so, promise yourself that next time you receive a piece of positive feedback, you will do your best to allow it to sink in. It might not work at once, but the more you persist, the easier it will get as you build that appreciation muscle.
2. Minimise the negative
Is there something that someone said that’s been looping in your mind lately, causing you pain? As you bring that to your awareness, make a conscious choice to let it go. See the thought, observe it, but don’t engage with it, don’t elaborate on why and how this was wrong etc. It it comes again, congratulate yourself for catching it and let it go again. You can even turn it into a game, imagining yourself as a cat that’s hunting for mice (i.e. your negative thoughts about this situation). As soon as you hunt down a thought, your task is done and then you are back at watching that mouse-hole. Make a promise to yourself to play this game next time you see yourself spiralling down, feeling bad about something someone told you. You can choose to play that game in general in a certain segment of your day, with any thoughts that arise, negative or positive. That’s basically stepping into the practice of mindfulness which can have a profound impact on your wellbeing.
Last but not least, remember that this is not about becoming an optimist or a ‘positive thinker’!
It’s about becoming realistic, bringing balance, being fair and giving equal voice to the positive and negative voices you hear from outside and from within.
Interested in seeing how you can benefit from having a partner to support you in altering your inner dialogue in a way that empowers your growth? This month I am offering a free coaching session to 5 people on a journey of purpose. Reach out to request a spot.
About The Paradise Vlog
I believe we already are in paradise, regardless of where we are and what’s going on in our lives. I believe life is a journey towards becoming aware of this and enjoying as much of it as we can in the limited amount of time we have here. The ‘The Paradise Vlog’ youtube channel is the space where I share my process of shedding patterns and beliefs that obstruct our view in order to replace them with presence, joy and wonder. It’s also my invitation to you – an invitation to connect and journey together in creative ways, as we help each other see through to the greatest expression of ourselves. I also love creating spaces for growth-oriented people to connect to their soul power and life purpose. I do that in the form of coaching, shamanic work and workshops. Reach out if you feel curious to explore these topics with me.