Storylines

Image Description: A store with many books stacked on shelves. A person wearing a red sweater and yellow backpack is browsing through them. Public domain image.

One unfortunate thing about the human brain is that it is easier for it to get stuck in negative thought patterns rather than positive ones. This isn’t only anecdotal, by the way; lots of research exists around this. We can hack the brain’s plasticity to think more positively, but when our thoughts are looping toward anxiety or sadness, this takes work. (I also want to say that anxiety and sadness are valid feelings, and we don’t need a toxic positivity that tries to suppress them.)

But sometimes, we’re looping. And sometimes, we’re projecting fear into all kinds of future storylines. It would be wild to be able to know how much time we’ve spent over the course of our lives imagining fearful, future outcomes that never materialize. And what percentage of our time are we living in this state?

It’s natural, and it’s human.

The good news is that we can impact it, and steer it in helpful, calming, meaningful directions.

Here’s a question for all of us today: What story do you know in your own lives of everything working out? Perhaps even unexpectedly?

Maybe we could bring that not only to our minds, but to our bodies. If we ponder it long enough, it can change the hormones that are running through our bodies. What would it be like to move through this situation or that situation, and it works out? Or at the very least, what if it’s not filled with all the worse case scenarios? It’s not going to be all of them.

My big disclaimer in all of this, of course, is that painful feelings need to be felt too — especially in grief or trauma. Existential fears are valid also.

But even with them, maybe we can live more in the present moment, accompanying them with care, rather than letting our minds perpetually wander into an everything-goes-wrong future.

What storyline do you need to bring to mind and body?

Renee Roederer

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