I recall one negative review on the course feedback forms. “This won’t work with my manager.” I could feel the sting of the feedback and a heaviness in my chest. The rest of my trip to Vienna was dimmed. I could hardly enjoy the meal or music afterward or the sightseeing days. I was disappointed that I had not reached an intelligent leader in a challenging situation. Ironically, I later heard from the participant that he did indeed have a dramatic shift in his relationship with his boss when he used the OASIS Conversation process.
It is our nature to focus on negative things disproportionately. It comes from our early days as humans when negative things could kill us. Many things that feel like threats today are not likely to snuff out our lives.
Rick Hanson says that the fear center in our brain can be a “sad amygdala” that bases our actions on fear by releasing cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress-inducing hormones that make us feel anxious and worried.
A “happy amygdala” will stimulate our nucleus accumbens, the goal-fulfilling part of our brain, to spark motivation, ambition, and optimism. We can develop a happy amygdala by savoring and exposing it to more positive experiences and toning down the fearful responses. This requires reminding ourselves of the many good things in our lives often, building the neural structure, and training our brains to recognize the good things more readily. It’s like building a new pathway or roadway that becomes the natural path.
We can rewire our brains by focusing on positive developments. Notice small positive details that are present and practice being kind and generous to others. Recall a fond memory, perhaps a day at a park or a beach with friends, and re-experience it in sensory detail. Re-enjoy the moments.
When I receive an email from a client or course participant who shares how they are using what they learned in our work together and feeling more robust and having more success in their interactions, I pause, appreciate, and savor the experience.
How do you experience negative or positive feedback?