Without consciously realizing, most people focus on the negative aspects of situations. Whatever we focus on expands.
As human beings with limited resources of attention, we can only focus on a few things at a time. Naturally, whatever we invest energy and attention in, becomes more important and significant to us. In other words, it gets amplified. The other aspects of the situation are ignored.
Amplification is the process of making something larger and more important than it is, be it thoughts, emotions or experiences. Unfortunately, usually without even consciously realizing, most people focus on the negative aspects of situations. We’re always thinking of what all can go wrong, rather than what can go right. With this mode of thinking, people soon find themselves spiraling downwards into an abyss of anxiety, fear and depression.
One thought of what could possibly go wrong, leads to the next more horrifying possibility and so on till we end up anticipating the worst. In doing so, we already experience the stress that we would if at all the dreaded event took place. We lose sight of the objective reality. In our anxiety and grief, we can’t even see that things aren’t half as bad or important as we’re making them out to be. This is also referred to as catastrophization – irrational thoughts wherein we perceive something as far worse than it actually is.
What to do to be more aware of the positive?
Catastrophization obviously helps no one. One simple trick to catch yourself before falling too deep into this pit is to choose your point of focus. If we have to amplify, why not amplify the positive instead of the negative.
Don’t just smile in pain, laugh. As impossible as that might sound now, it is worth a try! Almost all situations have their funny aspects, they are just a little difficult to identify when we are busy crying over the disaster which never really happened, and perhaps never will. We know that some years down the line, we’ll be laughing over the situation or how silly we behaved in the situation. So why not start laughing now itself?
Attempt for a moment to just step back and take stock of the problem. Is it really all that you are making it out to be? Is it really all that bad? Are there some things which are not all that bad or can be worked on? Such aspects are present in every situation, so instead of spending time worrying about all the things than can go wrong, just take a few moments to identify the things that are right and amplify them.
Amplify your blessings, amplify the love and support you receive from others, amplify your strengths and ability to deal with the problem, amplify the fact that life isn’t half as bad as it could be. It’s good, all is well.
Post contributed by: Mahima Gupta (Psychologist, Inner Space, 2010-2012)