“I tried that same diet last year, and let’s just say, it was a traumatic experience!”
“I had the most wonderful time learning the ins and outs of that new diet! Sure it took some time and a lot of effort, but it was well worth it once it became routine and easier to follow.”
These stories demonstrate two different perceptions about the same experience. Where one experience was clearly difficult, the other conveyed a more positive outcome.
But what is it that created such different perceptions that resulted in a negative experience for one person yet a positive experience for the other?
How do you identify?
When it comes to change and our related transition, how we identify with our experiences could be the thing that determines whether we consider them to be good or bad.
For example, let’s say that we have just purchased a house, and the day we moved in a water pipe burst, causing water damage to the carpet and the inability to use one part of the house until the pipe and the flooring has been replaced.
What's your bias?
Research shows that people have a preference for negative information over positive. Well, not exactly a preference as much as a tendency to remember more and for longer. This is known as negativity bias.
The thing is, there can be too much negativity, but it isn’t yet clear where that threshold lies, and that threshold might be different for each of us.
When this invisible and unpredictable threshold has been reached, we can begin to feel weighed down, apathetic, lethargic and, worst of all, our outlook can become increasingly negative.
As the saying goes, like attracts like, so the more negativity we absorb, the more negatively we are likely to think, which attracts more negative experiences, resulting in our perceptions of more negativity, and so on.
This is not the best place to be when endeavoring to transition to a change!
Alternatively, there can be a threshold with too much positivity too, where our reality becomes masked by our idealized version of things, and we become disconnected from others because they are unable to relate to our continuously upbeat perspective.
But for purposes of choosing the stories we tell as a means of creating a change mindset, I suggest taking the positive approach for a smoother transition to change.
Contributing factors to our stories.
I believe there are several factors that contribute to the stories we tell, and why we tell them the way we do. Here are some of them:
Shifting from what is, to what we want.
But why does any of this matter when it comes to our transition and change?
There is an additional dimension to our stories that isn’t often considered. It is more likely that we tell stories based on how we feel, right now, in the moment, or upon reflection, than with regards to how we want to feel.
On the surface this might sound like sugar coating the truth, and that is absolutely NOT what I am talking about here. What I am suggesting is that we once again look to our old friend, choice, in selecting the story that best represents how we want to feel about our change.
Let’s look back to the story about the house with the burst water pipe.
Several renditions of the story were presented, and there are likely even more that could be constructed from the situation. But which one we choose will determine the kind of experience we have and sets the tone for the remaining transition into the new home. So if we want to feel positive about our purchase, the third option most closely reflects that.
This represents the idea of self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to our change. Our perceptions and beliefs about a situation ultimately influence our experiences.
A part of this will be discussed further in our next post and the Mindset Feedback Loop, but for now, let’s conclude with a quick exercise:
Choice in stories leads to empowerment.
The stories we tell to others and to ourselves are often told without much intention or foresight. Yet telling negative stories as a part of our transition and change can result in attracting more drama and difficulty thanks to the influence of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Choosing our stories in a way that reinforces how we want to feel during our transition and upon completion of our change, is a great and easy way to facilitate a sense of empowerment.
We have the choice about what we focus on and convey to others, and in making those choices with a positive instead of a negative bias, we also create more positive internal stories. This creates a virtuous, instead of a vicious, cycle of perceptions and beliefs when it comes to our change-related experiences; an excellent way to develop a change mindset!
Stay tuned for our next post where we will learn how to apply the Mindset Feedback Loop model to create a mindset conducive to change.
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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