Image by Tania Dimas
Being on constant alert for danger has, at least from an evolutionary standpoint, helped us survive as a species. An unintended consequence is that it also has pushed us to have a negativity bias. Most people must make an effort to think positively instead of negatively.
Several “waves” of psychology have occurred over time, bringing us new ways to understand and help people. One such wave, called positive psychology, that came through the field encouraged us to look at our strengths instead of our weaknesses, and at what is working instead of what is not working.
The positive philosophy also emphasizes human strengths and the pursuit of happiness. A constant focus on dysfunction and disease is viewed as both undesirable and possibly even harmful. Maintaining such a pessimistic view takes away our perception that we have choices in how we think and behave.
Another benefit of modifying your thinking to a more positive style is that it helps “rewire” your brain. Something we know from neuroscience is that the brain has the ability to form and reorganize neural connections, a concept called neuroplasticity. The brain’s neurons can “fire” in different patterns. When the brain changes these neural networks, the new patterns get stronger. This occurs commonly after we learn something new. We can adjust our thinking and focus on our strengths to help establish a more optimistic outlook. Doing so will affirm your mental toughness and make you a happier person.
The first step in leveraging your strengths is to take an inventory of them. Do not downplay or minimize any possible strength! It’s time to boast a bit and bask in the glory of your positive attributes. Think about what comes to mind on your own, as well as feedback and compliments you have been given by others or direct feedback from school or work in the form of grades or raises.
Here are some questions to help you create a thorough list of strengths:
* What concrete skills or abilities have you acquired through work, education, or specialized training?
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
* What do you enjoy or feel passionate about because you are a natural or proficient at it?
* What positive feedback have you gotten from employers, teachers, family, or friends?
* Do you have any unique talents?
* What are your endearing inner qualities? (Examples: nonjudgmental, honest, kind, generous, loving, charismatic, spiritual, charitable, humorous, impartial, curious.)
* What are your appealing physical qualities? (Examples: physically fit, energetic, strong, attractive.)
* What have you accomplished that most people haven’t or that is assumed to be difficult to achieve?
If you want to find a way to become energized, hopeful, and optimistic, spend time focusing on these strengths. Catch yourself when you are thinking pessimistically, and immediately think about the strengths you have listed here. You will unleash much more potential by doing so. You will also be cementing a new habit that activates a new neural pathway.
Being vulnerable is at the core of the choices you make and the practices you engage in. It’s about how you respond in the face of inevitable ambiguity. Vulnerability is what makes the resulting experiences meaningful and purposeful.
One of the underpinnings of what makes us feel vulnerable in relationships is the idea that we are not good enough or worthy enough. It is critical that you banish this idea from your mind and repeat to yourself daily that you are enough and that you are worthy. You must always be looking for the proof, however small, that this is true. We tend to do the opposite, and it’s not the least bit helpful to our human spirits and souls.
You are in no way required to be vulnerable to anyone who has not earned the right to receive it. It happens slowly and gradually as the building blocks get stacked in a mutual relationship with anyone — romantic or platonic. As your sense of safety and your trust grow, vulnerability will follow.
Finding Meaning in Struggles
View pain as a hidden invitation to growth. You are stronger than you think you are. Now start exploring the significance of the pain.
Here are some questions to help you explore the meaning in your struggle:
* What did this experience teach me about myself, my life, or changes I need to make?
* Is there anything positive that came out of my experience?
* What did this experience teach me about my reaction to adversity?
* Have any opportunities emerged from this experience?
* Has this experience made me stronger?
* Has this experience exposed a weakness I need to work on?
* Did this experience help me bond with others who have been there too?
* Has this experience shifted my perspective on life (or something else) for the better?
No one is exempt from painful, even tragic, life events. Some of the biggest changes, or revelations about how you are living your life, can emerge from these trying times.
You do not have to be thankful for or feel beholden to the experience itself, but you might perhaps be grateful for the meaning found in it and the lessons learned from it. It is your choice whether you will let the experience cripple or strengthen you.
Copyright ©2019 by Marni Feuerman. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission from the book, Ghosted and Breadcrumbed.
Published by : New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com
Ghosted and Breadcrumbed: Stop Falling for Unavailable Men and Get Smart about Healthy Relationships
by Marni Feuerman
Psychotherapist Dr. Marni Feuerman offers profound and insightful advice for all those who find themselves in painful and unsatisfying relationships again and again. She offers explanations and solutions for why we attract and accept poor treatment, experience a lack of emotional connection from romantic partners, and often reject the good ones. Based on the science of love, neurobiology, and attachment, as well as Dr. Feuerman’s clinical experience, this book will help you recognize why you get stuck and how to change these patterns for good.
Click here for more info and/or to order this paperback book. Also available in a Kindle edition.
About the Author
Dr. Marni Feuerman is a licensed marriage and family therapist and licensed clinical social worker. She maintains a private practice and offers workshops focused on relationship problems, marriage, infidelity, dating, and divorce. As a nationally recognized relationship and marriage expert, she has contributed to countless online media outlets. Visit her website at https://www.drmarnionline.com/