According to the research of neuroscientists Mark Waldman and Andrew Newberg, if I were to put you into an fMRI scanner—a huge donut-shaped magnet that can take a video of the neural changes happening in your brain—and flash the word “NO” for less than one second, you’d see a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing, and communication.
In fact, just seeing a list of negative words for a few seconds will make a highly anxious or depressed person feel worse, and the more you ruminate on them, the more you can actually damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings, and emotions.
If you vocalize your negativity, or even slightly frown when you say “no,” more stress chemicals will be released. Any form of negative rumination—for example, worrying about your game, the outcome of your match or competition, stimulate the release of destructive neurochemicals.
The fact is the more negative thoughts they have, the more likely they are to experience emotional turmoil. But if you teach them to think positively, you can turn your life and your performance around.
Negative thinking is also self perpetuating, and the more you engage in negative dialogue—at home or at work—the more difficult it becomes to stop.
Negative words, spoken with anger, do even more damage. They send alarm messages through the brain, interfering with the decision making centers in the frontal lobe, and this increases a person’s propensity to act irrationally.
Fear-provoking words — stimulate the brain in negative ways.
And even if these fearful thoughts are not real, other parts of your brain (like the thalamus and amygdala) react to negative fantasies as though they were actual threats occurring in the outside world. Curiously, we seem to be hardwired to worry—perhaps an artifact of old memories carried over from ancestral times when there were countless threats to our survival.
In order to interrupt this natural propensity to worry, several steps can be taken.
1) First, ask yourself this question: “Is the situation really a threat to my personal survival?” Usually it isn’t, and the faster you can interrupt the amygdala’s reaction to an imagined threat, the quicker you can take action to solve the problem. You’ll also reduce the possibility of burning a permanent negative memory into our brain.
2) After you have identified the negative thought (which often operates just below the level of everyday consciousness), your can reframe it by choosing to focus on positive words and images. The result: anxiety and depression decreases and the number of unconscious negative thoughts decline.
Words actually change your brain. When you turn negative thoughts and worries into positive affirmations, you regain self-control and confidence. To overcome negativity, we must repetitiously and consciously generate as many positive thoughts as we can. Recent research shows that we need to generate at least three positive thoughts and feelings for each expression of negativity. So you’ll need to generate at least three positive messages for each negative utterance you make (for example, “I’m disappointed” or “That’s not what I had hoped for” count as expressions of negativity, as does a facial frown or nod of the head). It doesn’t even matter if your positive thoughts are irrational; they’ll still enhance your sense of happiness, wellbeing, and life satisfaction. In fact, positive thinking can help anyone to build a better and more optimistic attitude toward life.
Positive words and thoughts propel the motivational centers of the brain into action and they help us build resilience when we are faced with life’s problems. According to the last research, if you want to develop lifelong satisfaction, you should regularly engage in positive thinking about yourself, share your happiest events with others, and savor every positive experience in your life.
Advice: choose your words wisely and speak them slowly. This will allow you to interrupt the brain’s propensity to be negative, and as recent research has shown, the mere repetition of positive words like love, peace, and compassion will turn on specific genes that lower your physical and emotional stress. You’ll feel better, you’ll live longer, and you’ll build deeper and more trusting relationships with others—at home and at work.
When you generate a minimum of three to five positive thoughts to each negative one, you’ll experience what researchers call “an optimal range of human functioning.” That is the power of YES.
For more information on the effects of positive and negative speech, and for strategies to reduce stress and improve your performance visit/contact Dr Lafont @ www.vidamind.com.au