Imaging Negative Visuals: I=E
By Dr. William K. Larkin on April 23, 2012
It’s a dangerous habit, and it is a learned habit...visualizing negatively what we fear in the future. We do it so subtly that we don’t realize we do until we are down the path of imagining the worst. Asking yourself “what is the worst that can happen?” is not a solution. It is a preparation for negative imaging. Always ask yourself, “what is the best that can happen?” and then work on imagining that.
Negative visuals from anxiety, fear, and resentment create division and dysynchrony in the brain. You are not using the whole brain. You are reducing the integrative, creative, large picture, problem solving capacity of the right brain. The more you do it, the less you can see the truth. Visuals hatched in negativity, fear, and anger do not solve problems. They waste precious psychic energy.
When was the last time you got into an idle, unnecessary negative conversation, and a little while later, your brain was racing across the terrain of one negative picture after another? What was your last toxic conversation? Are these conversations usually with the same people? Or do you start them?
Negative visualization kicks the brain in the flight/flight and all of the stress hormones are let loose. You can go through life on physiological high alert when there is really very little going onaround you except in what you have negatively created in your own brain.
One of the big effects of negative visuals is that you have difficult with clarity in knowing what you want. Is there a place for imagining negative scenarios to think through negative consequences? This has always been the argument for the necessity and importance of pessimism, and it’s bogus.
“Yes” is the answer, but not from fear, worry and dread. Not from using half your brain and not from a lack of brain integration. Not from accessing the larger picture of the creative, restorative, integrative functions of the right hemisphere. Facing drawbacks and limitations that suggest better alternatives are far better done from strengths and the desire for positive outcomes, not from fear. This is the thinking that draws upon the right hemisphere.
Fear always finds enemies that never existed in the first place and fights battles and wars that were never necessary. We have all fought a thousand battles that never happened, while 95% of what we visualized in our worries never occurred largely because we did not stop to get the right hemisphere “larger picture.” Negative imaging from fear and anxiety disengages the power of the right hemisphere.
When you imagine negative things you are decreasing the integration of the brain. Negative images are produced by the left brain drawing on negative information. Negative imaging, full of anxiety, fear, dread, and foreboding is not a right hemisphere activity. The work of the right hemisphere is to get the larger picture, the bigger picture, and the more creative picture. The right hemisphere integrates the negative processing of the left brain memories and impressions of truth.
Remember this formula: I=E. “I” is integration and “E” is emotion. The more negative the emotion, the less the integration of the brain. The more positive the emotion, the more whole, greater is the integration of the brain. A lack of brain integration, what we call dysynchrony, creates negative emotion and DownSpiraling. Solutions seem fewer and fewer, and imminent danger seems greater and greater in a DownSpiral. We imagine, both individually and collectively, enemies that just don’t exist.
Worry and anxiety will do it every time. Let worry and anxiety be a cue to go to feelings of “peace,” and from a higher more flourishing place in a more integrated brain, look at the situation that you’re wasting psychic energy on by worrying.
CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR COACHES
1) “Negative visuals from anxiety, fear, and resentment create division and dysynchrony in the brain. You are not using the whole brain. You are reducing the integrative, creative, large picture, problem solving capacity of the right brain. The more you do it, the less you can see the truth.” Comment on this blog quote in light of your training with hemispheric memory and functionality. How would you coach a client to realize a more synchronous balance of right and left hemispheres? What tools would you use?
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1) How have you used worry and anxiety as personal cues to go to feelings of peace. love, hope, joy, or gratitude? Tell us your story.