Positive thinking | Our minds are wired to remember negative events
Everyone knows that positive thinking is good . But do we know that our brains are wired in such a way that it tend to remember negative events better than good ones ?
Sometimes we wonder why we can remember events that happen 10 years ago but we can’t seem to recall what we ate just last week ? When was the last time when someone criticize you harshly ? I think a lot of us can remember that event and not only this , its details too. Get my point ?
Positive thinking | What do we remember ?
So why do we remember certain things but forget others ? If you have teenager children , ask them and see if they remember the good events or the bad events better ? How about trying to recall what you were doing on the dreadful day of 9/11 . Well I can remember very clearly what I was doing then and I am sure most of you do too . Research has shown that that we tend to remember bad times more than good . Its important to realize this before we discuss positive thinking
Positive thinking | Impact of negative events and emotions
In the work place , if you have a supervisor who tend to recall the bad times more , there is a logical reason for being so . So let’s try to understand more about this . Research shows that we tend to remember such negative events in greater detail than positive ones . Negative emotions actually enhances memory accuracies . Why ?
One researcher argues that by recognizing such negative emotions so vividly will actually help us at some point in time , to survive , if the very same life threatening situation arises again . It helps to guide us and plan in case of a recurrence . This seems to make sense from a survival and evolutionary stand point . [see full report here] . But this has serious implications . While we sometimes want to forget the “bad” stuff so that we don’t carry such emotional baggage , now we have our brains wired in such a way that prevent us from “forgetting” these bad incidents that we simply want to get by and past us . We just sometimes want to forget these painful recollections , but how ? That’s where positive thinking steps in
Positive thinking | How do we try to “forget” bad times ?
Another study was done and it indicates that what we do with our emotional memories and how it affect us has a lot to do with gender , personality traits and the methods we use to control our emotions . While majority of these affects women more as women tend to suffer more from emotional disorders and their increased focus on negative emotions . Being extroversion (assertiveness ) helps a lot as it tends to focus on positive than negative life events . 2 strategies were adopted in this study as to how we manage our recollected memories whether good or bad . First is reappraisal , which is trying to look at a different perspective on negative events , while the other is suppression , hiding the negative emotions .
The study indicated that suppression in men has no significant difference in bad or good memories but it has a pronounce impact on women . Suppression in women ended up with lower mood shortly after . [see full report here]. To conclude , the study suggest that being more outgoing and using reappraisal works best for both men and women when dealing with negative memories .
So having a positive mental image and being a free-er outgoing character and personality will help to counter the effect of bad times recollections
Positive thinking | In Summary
Now that we know why we tend to remember bad events better (and why) , and suppression of these negative events does no good but cause more harm . The only better option would be reappraisal , so that with positive thinking , it helps to put us in a better situation