Here’s an excellent resource for identifying thinking errors and then correcting them through mindfulness. We all get caught up in unhelpful thoughts. It’s human! The good news is we can change our thoughts through noticing and choice.
Our brains are wired to protect us from harm. Early humans needed to detect and avoid threats such at predatory animals in order to survive and the primitive part of our brain, often referred to as the lizard brain, helped us do just that. This early survival skill is what we now call the negativity bias, a tendency to see and react to our environment as though it is a threat.
We can thank the bias for our proliferation as a species. We can also attribute our high stress levels and general unhappiness as a species to the bias. Modern humans perceive everyday occurrences, such as misunderstandings and crowded places, as threats thereby kicking the bias into action.
When it’s activated we are in the reactive flight, fight, or freeze mode rather than in a state of presence and calm. I think we can all agree that more presence and calm in our lives will lead to better relationships and increased happiness and well-being.
Here’s a great resource for confronting and dealing with the negativity bias:
Acceptance of what is takes practice. It is a practice, in fact. A practice of mindfulness that takes time and attention. In our fast-paced lives we may expect accepting what is to happen quickly, like flipping a switch. Sometimes it may work this way, but the bigger and harder things in life take time to accept and this is okay. When you’re practicing acceptance, you’re rewiring your brain.
It’s a lot like building muscle mass. If you begin a new exercise program for the purpose of becoming stronger, you don’t expect to end your first workout having achieved the final result of the program, do you? Nope. You know that it will take time. Weeks, months, perhaps even years, depending on where you were at physically when you began and the ultimate goal.
Changing our thinking takes time, too. It begins with small efforts, moments of mindfulness that we build into our days, and it grows from there.
Here’s a great acceptance practice from Rick Hansen: