Have you ever thought back to a difficult time in your life and wished you could go back and do it over? That’s likely because, as Dr. Rick Hanson tells us, our brains tend to be like Velcro for the negative and like Teflon for the positive.
How we remember an experience (and how we perceive an unfolding experience) has much to do with what we choose to pay attention to.
Before you say yes to that do-over, try this exercise:
Think of one of the biggest challenges you’ve had in your life, one that was so difficult you thought you’d never get through it. Now ask yourself this: Did anything good come of it? Did I learn anything about myself or life? Am I stronger, wiser, more resilient? Did this challenge lead in a direction I might not have otherwise taken?
In paying attention to possible positive aspects of the experience, you are shifting your attention, reframing the experience. That doesn’t mean ignoring the difficulty or pain. It simply means broadening your view to include any positives that may have come of it. Keeping in mind that adversity is our common humanity, doing this helps keep perspective.
Try broadening your view to current challenges to include any possible positives, keeping in mind those past experiences.
The glass is, after all, both half-full AND half-empty.