I was reading an article from 2012 in the New York Times today about how we remember negative things over positive ones (article at the end of the post). It talks about a study by Roy F. Baumeister that looked at reactions to loss or gain – namely $50 – and how that affected the participants. It showed that they felt distress of losing something more strongly than our joy at gaining something. This is reflected throughout various studies and could be linked to our evolution with Baumeister claiming that the “more attuned to bad things would have been more likely to survive threats and, consequently, would have increased the probability of passing along their genes”.
The article goes on to cite two other studies -Nass and Amabile – that show that these negative events go on to affect our day and even our outlook. It’s true, we often negatively introspect about the past! Whilst there may some good outcomes from this kind of learning though it leaves little room for our future. People who tend to spend time in this negative cycle miss out on opportunities and solutions that may present themselves for a different and often positive change.
It wasn’t all bad news though, Baumeister’s study also claimed that “many good events can overcome the psychological effects of a bad one.” And so it seems fair to say then that if we all show a little more kindness and compassion this can really helped to boost not only others happiness and confidence but our own.
My approach recognises this ‘threat detecting’ and propensity to focus on the negative and hopes to redress the balance. So that, if we are able to have some knowledge about where these feelings come from and why we have them – we can take that little bit more control by practising positive habits that fit into our lifestyles. Showing in many ways that how we approach a difficult situation can have an impact on not only how we negotiate difficulty but how we perceive the event ‘after the fact‘.
I was reminded of this portion of the metaphor ‘Trees’ that I often use with clients and thought I’d share it with you.
“And that big tree, also learned as it got more flexible in it’s behaviour and it’s perceptions that what it thought was the horizon was really only a limitation it was placing on itself, and as it danced and swayed, swayed and danced it could see further, and further, fields beyond towns, it could even see the sea in the distance, and it was so happy to have a new way of seeing things, so happy to know that it could recall in a new way pleasant images, pleasant memories.” Trees – Joe Griffin
Roy F. Baumeister Study – http://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2001-11965-001.html
Ben Gaskell is a Clinical Hypnotherapist working with clients who suffer from anxiety, stress, low mood and phobias. Based at The Remedy Lounge, Central Manchester and the Stretford area of Greater Manchester he serves the local and surrounding areas of Urmston, Didsbury, Sale, Chorlton, Hale, Altrincham and Trafford. Further details can be found on ‘getting here’ or my ‘contact’ page. For more information on how Ben at Greater Manchester Hypnotherapy can help you please call 07756 932 702 or email [email protected].