My father in law used to say…
“The bullets a man fires with his mouth cannot taken back.”
Words, positive and negative, can affect someone forever. They embed in that back of people’s psyche and don’t let go. We can never know how much harm will be done when we speak carelessly or negatively. Just read social media or watch TV and we can see that some people speak to intentionally harm others or are overly critical and judgmental. This negativity is infectious and the perpetrator is harming himself just as much, if not more, than he is harming others. He is creating a shitstorm of negative energy and what goes around, comes around.
When our mind is aggressively negative, angry, spiteful, mean, or fearful, our brain is in a type of fight or flight state…we are essentially emotionally unbalanced. In this state, we cannot think clearly or strategically, there is no creativity, you will struffle to learn, to grow, or to adapt.
How does this work? When your brain is in emotionally charged or in an agitated state, it is incapable of remembering or recalling and storing information. This involves the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, and the hippocampus.
The prefrontal cortex is responsible for emotional balance and regulation, intuition, and intention to pay attention.
The amygdala is responsible for the fight, flight, or freeze reactions, where emotions activate these emotional responses and naming your thoughts and feelings through awareness can actually deactivate the fight, flight, or freeze impulses.
The hippocampus is the area of the brain responsible for memory. When stressed, the ability to recall and store information is inhibited.
In a nutshell, we are not at our optimal mental ability when we are anxious, stressed, angry, or emotionally charged.
Instead of lashing out, it would actually be more productive to figure out what’s really going on inside. What are we really angry with? What are we afraid of? What insecurities is this bringing to the forefront? What are the names of the emotions we are feeling? What underlying needs are not being met?
When children are surrounded by these heightened states of negativity they are not able to function at their best and learning declines or is impossible. (hint, hint: support mindfulness in schools)
Adults need to be careful about the words they use, especially around and to children. This is where mindfulness can really be helpful because “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” says Kabat-Zinn.
Through practice, when we are aware of feelings, we can deactivate the amygdala and allow the brain to calm down and function at its best. But this takes practice.
So why be positive?
Because when we allow the negative to take over, we are not being our best self. We are not mentally functioning at our optimum.
It’s time to raise our awareness, kindness, and mental acuity and lower the negativity and hate.
Think about how much it would help our children, our education system, and society at large.
Happiness does not come from focusing on what’s wrong but what’s right and building from that.
Let’s spread positivity, not hate.