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Feel Better First

May 27, 2020



When my kids were little, I read all manner of parenting books and articles.

To be fair I probably fell asleep to them (parents of little kids are tired!), but I got the gist.


Among other things I learned:

  • To read to them from birth (even before!) to help their brains develop and foster a love of reading.


  • To label their emotional state out loud so they could start learning to identify it on their own.


  • That for every negative comment I made, I’d have to say at least 5 positive ones to balance the experience.


That last one was a toughie and the hardest for me to implement.


Not that there weren’t millions of wonderful things about my kiddos, but because there are so many behaviors we have to direct/correct for toddlers (Don’t climb on that! Don’t put that in your mouth!)


Remembering to “balance the experience” each time so they would understand it’s the behavior that’s “bad” and not the person was challenging to say the least.


Heck, it’s a tricky concept for adults to get sometimes.

And it just may be a remnant from our necessary socialization/toddler experience.


Our biology doesn’t help in this regard either. It turns out our brains have a negativity bias, meaning we tend to focus on negative experiences over positive ones. The thought is that our survival as a species depended on learning quickly from negative environmental experiences (think saber-toothed tiger and poison plants).


In this day and age when many are relatively safe in our environments (COVID-19 aside), our brains attend to the negative just as deeply and instinctively, but the negative really isn’t life threatening anymore.


Have you caught yourself ruminating over the one snarky comment made rather than appreciate the dozens of compliments? It may be natural but it doesn’t particularly feel good.


And it doesn’t help us get things done.


When we feel bad we’re stuck. It stops us in our tracks. We don’t move forward, we just stew in our own juices.


When we feel good, we happily make whatever adjustments are necessary. We’re resilient. We can move in the direction of our desires easily.


So the trick to making changes you want is to feel better first.

In that state it’ll be clear how to continue. Easy-peasy.


And you can train your brain to feel good more of the time.

It all starts with the ratio 1:5.

For every one negative thing you catch yourself saying to yourself, come up with 5 positive ones on the spot.

Count them out.

Bonus points if the sentences start with “I am . . .”


Balancing self-talk retrains the brain so we feel better more of the time, allowing us to move forward in a calm, motivated and productive way.



Watch the Facebook Live for stories of how positive self-talk works including how it made maintaining my weight loss so much easier.