Think of one of your most vivid memories. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Was it a good memory or a bad memory?
When I was given this prompt by a friend, the first thing that came to mind was receiving a phone call from my brother telling me that my dad had passed away.
Research tells us our minds are more likely to remember bad memories than good ones. Scientists believe there are deep-rooted evolutionary reasons for this.
In other words, our brain can be a real @$%&* sometimes.
Perhaps this is related to why we are much more likely at the end of the day to dwell on the things that went wrong or didn’t get done rather than what we did well.
We’ve all had those moments when we doubt our ideas, feel like we haven’t done enough, or impostor syndrome gets the best of us.
If our brains have an inclination to more readily recall negative things, it’s important to have practices in place to intentionally counterbalance that with noticing the good.
I recently came across just such an exercise from author and psychotherapist, Pete Walker. It’s called a 12×12 Self-Gratitudes Matrix. You make a list of twelve things about yourself in the following twelve categories.
- Good Deeds
- Peak Experiences
- Life Enjoyment
- Good Habits
- Subjects Studied
- Obstacles Overcome
- Grace Received
- Nurturing Memories
The idea is to memorize and recite these lists in those moments when you get caught in a downward spiral of fear, doubt, or “not enoughness.”
I was stunned at how hard it was to make these lists. It was as if my brain was afraid to acknowledge the good for fear that it would leave me vulnerable to the possibility of the bad.
It was all the more reason for me to persevere and do the exercise.
Whether it’s the 12×12 Self Gratitudes, positive affirmations, keeping a gratitude journal, or something else, I encourage you to integrate some sort of practice to train your brain to notice and remember the good things about you and your life.
As a creator and thought leader, you put yourself and your ideas out there, set ambitious goals, and expose yourself to the criticism every day.
It’s vital to have a source of grounding that reminds you of the good in your life for those moments when self-protection goes awry and threatens to slow you down or derail you.