It turns out that a harsh attitude of judgment, motivated by our inner critic is bad for our brain and subsequently, our long-term health. Rather than motivating us towards excellence, a diet of negative self-talk can activate the neural circuits that lead us in a downward spiral – a vortex of sadness, tiredness and despair.
The great news, though, is that transformation can be achieved in a way that is stable, non-striving and based more on being than doing. Being is difficult to quantify, however, paying attention with loving-kindness to our being, can set us on the upward spiral of positivity and may be key to finding stability and peace. (Fredrickson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dFDHzV36g)
Siegel states, “We know that what you do with your mind – how you focus your attention, intentionally shape your thoughts and purposefully calm your emotions – can directly change your brain. That’s the key to neuroplasticity – how our experiences, including what we do with our minds, actually change the activity and even the re-modeling of our brains”
To help focus your mind and keep you on the upward spiral, here are a few tips from neuroscientist Alex Korb:
- Smile – smiling increases positive feelings.
- Splash cold water on your face – slows down your heart rate by indirectly stimulating the Vagus nerve
- Stand up straight – a German study showed that when people stood in a confident posture they were more decisive
- Take a deep breath and breath out slowly – this helps activate the calming parasympathetic nervous system
- Activate the gratitude neural circuits – take a moment every day to write down three things you’re grateful for.
- Go out in the sunshine – warm sunshine on our skin activates the upward spiral neural networks.
Be kind to yourself, and if you can’t be kind, be neutral – its way better than being mean!