Aktualisiert: März 21
In times, we all have feelings like unhappiness, we are stressed, there are tensions, hassle, unfulfilled longings, illnesses, etc. For some time we thought there is something like “positive” and “negative” stress. But the fact is, that the way we perceive stress or any emotion rather depends on whether we have some control over it and whether it has a beginning and an end. And surprisingly, it is not so much about what actually triggered the stress. So how do we get to this conscious state of being aware of our level of stress and how can we influence it, so as to not be stuck with it?
No matter what happened in the past, you can always learn from the current moment right now and you can always count on growing the strength inside of yourself. You can get stronger, more skillful and learn more ways to deal with your challenges every day. It´s very much about finding ways on how to grow emotionally as you go through life. For some this may sound cheesy and superficial. No, it is NOT about positive thinking. It is NOT about denying your situation or how you feel inside. It is about developing the resources inside of you to deal with the difficult things or what we sometimes just call “life”.
First of all, we need to know, that much in our body works perfectly for survival in the stone-age. Our neuronal system works to definitely not miss the lion lurking for you behind the next bush. This is what we call the brain´s negativity bias: we are designed to focus on threat detection and protection. In other words, from nature we automatically focus on feelings like anxiety and anger. Our mind and body routinely do what they are designed for: look for bad news, over-focus upon it and overreact to it. In fact, one negative experience has a much greater impact than several positive ones. It is extremely important to know that we have - from nature - this built-in system of negative bias. And especially in challenging times, we need to find ways to overcome it.
Secondly, there is another neurological fact, that is very helpful to know. Experiences can profoundly shape the neuroplastic brain and it changes in response to experiences, emotions and learning. The longer we have dragged something around with us or done something, the more firmly it is anchored and integrated in our system. This process is called experienced-dependent neuroplasticity. We record what we have experienced in your nervous system and leaving behind a lasting imprint upon our neurological structure.
These two finding are extremely helpful to know - for your everyday life but especially for the challenging times. To be more resilient and deal with the difficult things in life, it helps to find ways to overcome the negativity bias and to focus on the strengthening, useful and authentic experiences within us and grow them inside of us and therefore influence the shape of the neuroplastic brain.
So how do we build this inner strength? Here are a view ideas:
To know that we have this built-in negativity bias, is a helpful first step. We need to find ways to not be stuck in any emotion and find ways to let them flow and widen the picture to explore what else there is. If you want to grow the strength and the powerful feelings inside of you, you need to experience them and internalize them. Look for the experiences that are useful to you, that are authentic. Take a breath to feel them in your body, to stay with them, and focus on what´s rewarding about them.
Have a mindful awareness about something you are suffering from, like physical pain, worrying about something, pressure, etc. It is important to realize it, feel it and hold the space for is. But don’t be stuck by marinating in it, ruminating about it, looping around that track and digging the experience deeper into your system. It is highly transformative to realize that there is no need to do that. Instead, experience your feelings in a space of awareness and look for what else there is and what else you need to get out of this place.
As a result of how our brain has evolved and it is build up, all humans have mainly three essential needs: safety, satisfaction and connection. In order to grow strength and resilience within us, we need to care much about these three different needs. We need to look out for authentic opportunities every day to register an enoughness of safety, satisfaction and connection. And specifically important is the third one: finding a sense of connection between us and forming relationships. If you fulfill your need for relatedness to others, there is a good chance that you feel save and satisfied at the same time. If you do that routinely, you start filling yourself up from the inside.
Whatever the challenge is at the moment. Reflect on what is it that would really help you, what is the resource to grow inside of you. And look out for the opportunities during the day to experience exactly that. And make sure that you really grab this experience and take it in, experience a sense of it and honestly receive it.