Updated: Apr 21, 2021
We supposedly have between 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day. The majority of these thoughts (about 95% of them) are thoughts we had yesterday! Our mind is like a record player on repeat. A startling statistic is that for the average person, 80% of these thoughts are negative!
We have what researchers call a negativity bias. Our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative thoughts. For example, when we are giving a presentation to a room full of people, we are hard-wired to notice and dwell on the one person yawning and looking at their watch, because it brings up an instant fear that our presentation is boring and no one is enjoying it.
We don’t even notice the entire room of engaged participants anymore, because our fear is being realized in our brain. Our thoughts start creating a false story in our mind (it’s boring and people aren’t enjoying themselves). Guess what? In reality, that one person just happened to get no sleep last night and was checking their watch because they’re picking someone up from the airport after the presentation and are just being diligent.
But the good news is that we don’t have to believe everything we think. We can acknowledge our negative thoughts (eg. “I’m no good at this” or “My students don’t respect me”) and then realize that they’re not actually true.
Our brain can actually learn new tricks. By thinking new thoughts (the opposite of our negative ones) we can create new neural pathways in our brain, which makes it easier for us to focus on the positive in the future.
So our thought “My students don’t respect me” can be acknowledged that it is just a false thought that’s not actually true, but just our negativity bias at play. Then we can replace it with a positive thought, such as, “I treat my students with respect, and in turn, they treat me with respect.”