Your Brain on Negativity
Nobody is perfect and everybody can slip with our thoughts from time to time. This is perfectly normal. If you do find it very difficult to be positive, stick with it and I will tell you a little about why this may be happening.
The negativity bias of our brain is an almond shaped area called the Amygdala. We have two of them. One located in either side of our brain. The amygdalae’s job is to keep us and others around us safe and it is very resistant to change.
It is located in a part of the brain which is referred to as the paleo limbic. Here is where we store emotions, evaluate threats, trigger survival instincts and store past memories. Because of this region, our brain has become biased towards negativity. It perceives negativity as some form of threat and our minds have evolved to consistently evaluate threats in our lives. This was something we developed during pre-history.
Prehistoric peoples lives were shaped around fighting to survive. Due to this, they constantly needed to be on high alert and scanning their environment for possible threats. Back then dangers could come from predators of all sorts and even other people, when survival needs were limited. These pre historic people were confronted with much different situations than what people experience in today’s modern world, but this is something that still remains in all our brains today.
Take a look at the math problems below and see if you notice anything?
1 + 1 = 2
3 + 3 = 6
6 + 6 = 11
The last problem is incorrect. 6+6=12.
‘Why does our mind alert us to the incorrect answer before anything else? Why does it not alert us to the correct answers first?
Photo credit @awkwardyeti – View
This is down to our negativity bias. During evolution our brains have evolved to rapidly focus on what we perceive as threats or negativities in our lives and our brain responds to these in the very same way it did back in prehistory, by causing us to experience moments of stress, fear and anxiety in situations where it is often unnecessary if we take a second to process and rationalise what is really going on.
On average, we have around 60,000-80,000 thoughts a day. 95% of those being the same as the day before and around 80% of them would be classified as a negative thought. It is much easier than you would think to fall into a negative thought pattern.
This can be changed by learning a little and becoming aware of how you think.
Make Up Your Mind’s Youtube video has a great look at the brains negativity bias –
While you continue to increase your awareness of how Mindography can work for your mind and body, we are going to start to introduce some tools that you can incorporate into your life and your practice.
Deep breathing increases the amount of oxygen that is transferred to your brain and calms your nervous system to give you a calmer more connected feeling between your brain and body. Breathing can also be used as a mindful anchor for your attention.
Take a deep breathe before reacting in situations in your life.
How to observe your breath as you walk.
As you are walking….. Breathe regularly, but observe your breath for a moment. Time your inhale and exhale against the amount of steps you are taking. Example :- I am taking one full breathe every 6 steps.
As you continue to walk, begin to slightly lengthen your inhale and exhale. Do not force your inhalation. Let it remain natural, but slightly longer. Continue this for 10 breathes.
After those 10 breaths, if you feel comfortable use your exhalation to lengthen this by a step or even two steps. You can lengthen your inhalation also, but only if you feel you are able to do so. Make sure not exasperate yourself. Do this for 20 breaths or until you feel a little tired.
After 20 breaths, return your breath to normal. Take a couple of minutes break and try again. With continued practice your inhale and exhale will both lengthen.
- Ground you to the present moment
- Decrease your stress
- Calms your anxiety
- Helps you sleep
- Relieves cravings
- Connects you with your body
- Reduces pain
- Increases energy
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves digestion
- Quiets the mind
- Helps with decision making
Understand Your Intuition
In your simplified practice in section one, we asked you to follow your intuition or your ‘’Gut Feeling’’. If you were wondering what this is. Your Intuition is your Subconscious Mind sending messages directly to your Conscious Mind.
Have you ever felt that something was right for you, without having any real explanation for this feeling? That is your intuition at work. Use the exercise above, or take a few deep breathes when making decisions. Bring your awareness out of your head and down into your body. Understand how you are feeling towards this decision and your intuition will rarely leave you down. This is also known as ”Making a decision with your heart before your head.”
Ancient Greeks actually believed that your subconscious mind was located inside of your heart. They spoke of the heart a lot and always trusted decisions made with their heart. We should do the same. Our intuition is usually what we really want, so we should go with it.
Trust in yourself, your instincts and your ability to adapt in situations as you move forward.
Live science have an amazing article on how scientists can measure Intuition – Click Here
4-7-8 Breathing Technique
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is also known as “relaxing breathing”
- Take a seat
- Open your mouth with lips slightly apart. Exhale completely with a whooshing sound.
- Close your lips fully and inhale silently through your nose for the count of 4 in your head.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Exhale fully through your mouth for 8 seconds.
- Repeat this process 3-7 times, or as needed.