We have all experienced that position of dwelling on negative thoughts and the hamster wheel goes round and round feeding the rumination, but some struggle with this a lot more than others. We develop these patterns early on when we are young, and if you can think of this almost automatic habit of entertaining the negative as a well-worn pathway in the woods. As you use this path over and over again it becomes your natural route home if you will.
Think of the street that you take in order to get home, you turn onto this street automatically it isn’t even a choice anymore. This is exactly how habits, behaviors, and experiences are formed in the brain. Eventually, we begin to choose these thought patterns and the way we experience the world without any thought regarding our decision.
I am often having conversations with clients or men in their midlife simply reaching out with questions about how to overcome this particular challenge of feeling stuck on the wheel of negative cycling thoughts. Men will often describe it as a kind of degradation of their resilience over time. If you are generally a negative individual and you color your experience of the world in a stressed and critical manner you are diminishing your ability to absorb life’s challenges and then bounce back.
If you think of your reaction to a difficult event as a rubber band, it will snap quickly with very little thought or positive rational behavior to the situation if you are a negative minded person. However, if you are a positive minded individual and you have built what I call the “silver lining mindset” then you are able to absorb life’s inevitable obstacles and move on from them quickly.
Looking at a scenario such as a flat tire. A guy once told me if you get a flat tire and you are a negative minded individual then you will have an inflamed reaction and look at the situation as if it ruined your entire week. If you are a positive individual and you get a flat tire, you remain cool and calm, you spend a few moments noting that it is an inconvenience and not ideal. But then you move on and you notice how beautiful it is outside, and you change the tire and alert some folks that you will be late for a meeting for example.
How do you build this silver lining mindset? You enact the system of intercept-redirect, this just means that if you are noticing that you are going down the negative rabbit hole, you stop yourself and you redirect to a positive experience. You have to already be exposing your mind to a positive experience though in order to have a place to redirect your thoughts to. That is where the meditation piece comes in, you want to have already built a foundation of joy, love, and general positivity.