Which do you remember more: your wins, compliments, and happy memories or your losses, put-downs, and difficult memories? Chances are the bad ones seem to have more staying power and can rattle around in your brain for weeks or even years later. Research suggests we remember more of our negative experiences due to evolutionary reasons. Dr. John Cacioppo, the founder of the University of Chicago Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, conducted research demonstrating we react automatically and more strongly to negative stimuli. Our brains have a negative bias. The brain developed systems that would make it unavoidable for us not to notice danger and thus, hopefully, respond to it. So, no wonder we remember our negative experiences better; our reactions to them are more instantaneous and intense. But beyond our evolutionary programming I suggest there is a hidden benefit. First, a question for you to ponder. Do you learn, reflect, grow, and improve more when things are fairly uneventful or when you're being challenged? If you're like me, I have always gotten more out of life as a result of being challenged. Even in the moments it has knocked me down, I always learned how to get back up, push forward, and persevere. While these challenges may have caused bad memories, they always offer the potential for insight and growth. Growing takes courage and faith. When you’re in the thick of something challenging, it can be hard to see the positive side. Anger only feels like anger. Sadness only feels like sadness. But when you’re past the foggiest part of your feelings and you begin to see a clearing, that’s when you have an opportunity to learn about yourself and grow from the experience. For example, consider our response to how abrasive and hurtful people can be to others online. While we try not to be affected because we realize these attacks are often anonymous, cowardly, and hateful; we are often left with how we feel, which could range from anger to sadness. Most people stop at the feelings. They stop because they don’t know there is anything else beyond that point. Or they stop because they don’t want to go past that point. But that is where the potential lives. If you like to reflect on your own human behavior to grow and be a better person, this is your sweet spot. This is the spot where you question and reflect. You question why you’re reacting a certain way. You question why you are triggered. You question, to imagine how you could react differently in the future to have a better outcome (if you can control it). You question, in order to grow as a person. You question, to learn about yourself and the world you’re living in. Questioning is never-ending and essential for learning. It may not feel comfortable to question, but it’s important you do. Stopping at the feeling response can leave you feeling heavy where the emotions stagnate and are left unresolved only to be diverted destructively to yourself or to someone else. So, is questioning comfortable? Nope, usually not. Is it worth it? Yes, Absolutely! And, it becomes more comfortable and rewarding when you acknowledge that you’ve moved beyond the negative experience and grown as a person. When you question and reflect, you grow. Little by little, every experience you ponder and learn from allows you to expand and shed who you once were, leading you to experience your highest potential. It's about looking past your pride and being brave enough to see yourself as who you truly are today; this includes acknowledging your faults, weaknesses, anger triggers, vices, dependencies, obsessions, and fears. If you push past the emotions and find the sweet spot, challenges are full of potential to help you grow and to love yourself, faults and all. Lastly, when you push past the emotions, you welcome in an evolutionary development, one that you can use to your own advantage. When you question, you’re welcoming more happiness into your life. You just need to keep working your way through the thick of the fog to get to the clearing. Take care of yourself always and recharge your self-care often. Kelly Stone Cramer https://www.happinessrecharge.com Want to reach out? Connect with me via email at Kelly@HappinessRecharge.com. For more uplifting messages, view all past recharge tips here.
This content is considered to be life advice and not for medical purposes. If you need medical attention, please consult your doctor. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, rather it's a sign of strength that you're advocating for your self-care. Important note: If you or someone you know is going through something that is challenging on an abusive level, please call 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522 (https://www.thehotline.org). No one deserves to be abused. Ever. That includes verbally and physically. Know that speaking up for yourself and asking for help is a tremendous sign of strength.