Scan for the Good
"…in ourselves are triumph and defeat.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Too often especially when hard life challenges hit us unexpectedly or when a long term difficulty is not yet resolved there is the tendency to feel defeated. We not only look at the one problem facing us but also are drawn to scanning our world for other things which have gone wrong. It is actually how the brain and memory work. The brain naturally taps into and scans for things that are associated with what we are thinking of.
You undoubtedly have heard at some time about the exercise “Don’t think about a monkey!” Well, of course it has been brought up so you are thinking about a monkey! And given a little time your memory will start kicking in perhaps monkeys swinging in trees in a jungle; then other jungle animals, maybe elephants and gazelles. If you do not interrupt the process this could go on for a good piece of time.
My simple message here is to notice what your are thinking and scanning for in your thoughts. If you are associating one defeat with another…one hurt or disappointment connected to another and another your brain is just doing what it does naturally. Unfortunately, it can put you and keep you thinking and behaving in ways that negatively impact your mood and how you respond to people and events. This often produces undesired results.
We can experience much more triumph with the accompanying elevation of mood, positive behaviors and responses to people and events when we wisely use the way how our brain and memory works to our best advantage.
We can visualize the image of a stop sign when thoughts of grave defeat hit us. We then can choose thoughts in our minds which are in the service moving us toward triumph over our difficulties. With this change in our thinking, we are able to scan our environment, circumstances and our life for all the good which is actually present.
We can be joyful even in the midst of difficulties. We are not obligated to feel bad because there are problems to handle. There will most likely always be a problem to face. The good news is there also will always be good to find and enjoy regardless of difficulties. This is our triumph over defeat.
-Mary Seyuin, M.A. LLP