Why Bad Thoughts Stick
Yesterday, I was on a high. I attended the National Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference in Washington D.C---if you haven’t been, plan to be there next year.
The morning was full of brilliant passionate speakers who touched my head and my heart. I saw people I hadn’t seen in years and some who had heard me speak more than a decade ago. By the afternoon before speaking, I actually had requests from people to tell this story or that one which they’d heard years before.
I smiled and told them “no,” but I kept getting the same requests. My mamma didn’t raise no fool. So I gave in.
When it was time to speak, I delivered a message from my heart and was rewarded with a thunderous ovation. I could barely get out of the room to catch my flight. People kept stopping me with tears in their eyes telling me that I had moved them at their foundation.
One woman told me a story that I will take to my grave. She told me that 10 years ago, I had spoken at AOL and a guy she worked with had been very difficult to deal with. At the close of my lecture, I had sang a song by Sweet Honey that says:
“There’s God like and war like and strong like only some show, there are sad like and mad like and half like we know, but by my life, be I spirit.”
She told me that as I sang the man began to cry, releasing the pain that had plagued him and everyone in his path. He thanked her for bringing me there and, as she reported he was changed.
When I got home, exhausted yet high, I read a note of a different tone; it said that it was amazing that I could be amazing while telling the same jokes I’d told ten years before.
So which thought do you think I dwelled on?
Fortunately for me, while on the plane, I had been reading the book Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness and Love by Hanson and Mendius.
From it I learned that the brain detects negative information faster than positive. “Your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones—even though most of your experiences are probably neutral or positive,” they write.
I read that the negative really does have more impact than the positive and that it takes about 5 positive events to outweigh the negative one.
We are wired to feel the negativity, therefore we learn to avoid it, but this wiring can also bring us down.
So when I was brought low after being so high I did what I do; I looked for the truth in this woman’s statement---yes I had told stories that she had heard, but I had also told much more new. Her brain was looking for what was familiar. She also said that “I rocked”, and while we often say negative things that are couched in something sweet; the sting is still there, but I decided to look to the good.
Then I went back to my heart. I realized that my head injury was healing because I was once again attuned to judgment and negativity; in my heart, I lived by compassion.
When negativity happens, realize that much more positive has occurred. Move to your heart and shine love, share your power and do as Sweet Honey and that beautiful sweet sister reminded me to do; BE SPIRIT.
Be you, be well, be spirit.
Bertice Berry, PhD.