Struggling to Feel Positive

Written by: Nick Ortner

Be positiveImagine that you’re having an incredible day (or maybe you already are and don’t have to imagine 🙂 )… It’s one of those days when you feel your best, and everything is going smoothly.

You come home at the end of the day feeling great, energized by all the positive things that have happened in just this one day. But then, after dinner, you open your mail, and find a bill that’s much, much higher than you ever could have imagined. Suddenly, you’re in a state of panic, full of fear and anxiety.

Within seconds, the one bad experience of your day – getting an enormous bill – has overpowered hours and hours of positive experiences.

The truth is, we’ve all had some, if not several, versions of that day. The question is, how can a single negative experience so easily overpower an entire day of positive ones?

In a culture that encourages us to be, or at least appear, positive, it’s something a lot of us don’t feel comfortable talking about, but the truth is, feeling positive doesn’t always come naturally. In fact, more often than not, it’s a LOT of work! Many of the most positive people I know are that way because they constantly work on themselves.

They use tapping, meditation, yoga – often all of those combined (and more!) – to clear the negative emotions they naturally experience. Because of the time and attention they dedicate to their emotional well-being, they’re then able to feel more positive more often.

Before we look at how to do that, it’s important to understand why it’s so much easier for us to focus on one bad experience instead of multiple positive ones.

It’s what neuropsychologist and New York Times best-selling author Rick Hanson, Ph.D. calls the brain’s “negativity bias.” In a nutshell, the “negativity bias” began as protective mechanism, a mental “habit” that helped us survive. Because this bias started so long ago, it’s become deeply ingrained in the human brain. In his book, “Hardwiring Happiness”, Hanson describes it this way:

“Our ancestors could make two kinds of mistakes: (1) thinking there was a tiger in the bushes when there wasn’t one, and (2) thinking there was no tiger in the bushes when there actually was one. The cost of the first mistake was needless anxiety, while the cost of the second one was death. Consequently, we evolved to make the first mistake a thousand times to avoid making the second mistake even once… the default setting of the brain is to overestimate threats, underestimate opportunities, and underestimate resources both for coping with threats and for fulfilling opportunities. Then we update these beliefs with information that confirms them, while ignoring or rejecting information that doesn’t. There are even regions in the amygdala specifically designed to prevent the unlearning of fear, especially from childhood experiences. As a result, we end up preoccupied by threats that are actually smaller or more manageable than we’d feared, while overlooking opportunities that are actually greater than we’d hoped for. In effect, we’ve got a brain that’s prone to ‘paper tiger paranoia’.”

Keep in mind that when we’re talking about the “negativity bias,” and how much work it takes to be positive, we’re talking about feeling positive, rather than just positive thinking. When we’re focused on positive thinking, we might think, “Ugh, it’s been raining all day, and it’s making me cranky,” but then catch ourselves being negative, and remind ourselves to be grateful for the rain. In other words, positive thinking, although valuable, is often forced. It requires effort.

We have a very different experience when we’re feeling positive. When we’re in an organically positive state of mind, without making an effort, we might immediately appreciate how beautiful the rain is, and see it as a cue to relax. In that organically positive state, positive experiences stand a much better chance of winning out against negative ones.

When we’re stuck in “paper tiger paranoia,” the brain’s negativity bias, we’re especially prone to what Hanson calls the “special power of fear.” It’s that experience we had earlier, where one minute you’re feeling great, confident about your work, relationships, etc., and the next you get a bill that’s much bigger than you ever dreamt it could be.

Suddenly your entire life, which just a moment ago seemed to be humming along nicely, now feels threatening and unsafe.

Because the “negativity bias” has become so deeply ingrained in the brain, overcoming it takes conscious attention and dedication.

Remember, though, you’re not alone. You can also stop wondering what’s wrong with you, why YOU have such a hard time being positive. We’re ALL this way! Over millions of years, the human brain has been wired to emphasize the negative. This isn’t your problem or your fault, it’s something we ALL have to work to overcome. Also keep in mind that our goal here isn’t to stop feeling negative emotions – that wouldn’t even be healthy! – but to create more balance, so we can let in more positive experiences more often.

So let’s get started by doing some tapping on overcoming our negativity bias:

KC: Even though I have all these negative thoughts and emotions, and they make it so hard to feel positive, I completely and deeply love and accept myself.

KC: Even though I have all these negative thoughts and emotions, and they make it so hard to feel positive, I completely and deeply love and accept myself.

KC: Even though I have all these negative thoughts and emotions, and they make it so hard to feel positive, I completely and deeply love and accept myself.

Eyebrow: All these negative thoughts…
Side of Eye: all these negative emotions…
Under Eye: so hard to stop them once they start.
Under Nose: But I’m not alone!
Under Mouth: It’s how my brain is wired
Collarbone: and that makes it easier to feel negative
Under Arm: and to feel fear and anxiety
Top of Head: there’s nothing wrong with me

Eyebrow: it’s how my brain is wired
Side of Eye: But I can start to change it
Under Eye: I can tell my brain that it’s ok to relax.
Under Nose: That I’m safe now
Under Mouth: There really is no tiger in the bushes
Collarbone: It’s safe to feel positive
Under Arm: It’s safe to relax and notice what is working
Top of Head: It’s safe to feel safe

Eyebrow: I can relax now
Side of Eye: My brain and body don’t need to be on high alert
Under Eye: It’s safe to relax now
Under Nose: I can handle the challenges that come my way
Under Mouth: I don’t need to panic
Collarbone: It’s safe to feel good now
Under Arm: It’s safe to relax now
Top of Head: Letting go of all this negativity now

Keep tapping on this, especially when you notice yourself being overcome by negative thoughts and emotions. It takes time to override the negativity bias, but the positive feeling you’ll get as you make progress is well worth it!

Until next time… keep tapping!

Nick Ortner

If you had a shift or breakthrough in doing this process, large or small, share it below!

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42 Comments on this post

  1. Monica Ingegneri says:

    Thank you NICK ORTNER
    Really good,Amazing tapping for unhappy and negative.
    I feel much better now!
    Thank you so much for help me
    Thank you very thank you
    I continue for ever ever ever!!!!….

  2. Michelle Shoaff says:

    Thank you! I’ve learned something new today!

  3. Suki says:

    Thank you, once again, Nick! This is such valuable information. The fact that our brain has such hardwiring answers so many questions . You and your work are deeply appreciated!

  4. Matt Nichols says:

    This was really good! I have battled with negativity all of my life. This really helps out for me. Hoping to see a shift in the way I look at things!

  5. Elba says:

    Thank you Nick. I “found” you a while ago and I’ve been reading and watching some of the videos where you explained tapping, and been practicing some. But this is perfect! Just what I needed now, like a full session with you!

  6. Diana Miller says:

    Two months ago I had a bad fall and a baseball sized bruise on my lower leg developed into an open wound that is not healing. The doctors are perplexed. Last night I woke up at 2:30 am with such fear about losing my leg (this happened to my grandmother). I began tapping and felt the fear leave and it has not returned!! Now if I can tap my leg into returning to good health again…. Is there a script for that???

  7. Philip says:

    Brilliant Nick
    I have always, well since the age of 4 1/2 when I was dispatched to boarding school, had this attraction to thinking the worst and am now finding that it is hard work to shift this very ancient childhood belief and let myself be more positive.
    Good to know that this is a popular and common struggle!

  8. Kirsten says:

    Thank you for this script/post. It’s the feeling safe that has the largest emotional charge for me – more tapping to do on this; such a relief to understand that being positive can be “hard work” and that it’s ok if I just can’t get there sometimes 🙂

  9. Barbara says:

    I like this script to just be aware that you can change it and come out of it easier… I sometimes add Isn’t that interesting…Or I am noticing that….

  10. David says:

    It’s works instantly.
    Thanks a lot Nick.

  11. naomi says:

    I find your posts with the tapping scripts extremely useful, so much so that I wanted to order the book through Amazon which is easier as a European but could only find the 2013 version.
    I printed those scripts on paper put them in a file and use them every day, it gives me a professional idea of what to say while tapping… the words are usually spot on!
    You have an amazing blog. I wish the best of luck in continuing to help all those around you which is with today’s technology quite a wide circle 🙂

  12. Diana says:

    Thank you so much, “It is safe to feel safe” has radically changed my thinking.

  13. Akuma says:

    Great 1 there dearest Nick! You are a genius and you are applying your wisdom :-)!

  14. Raylene says:

    Thank you so much , Nick. I really needed this right now. I’m so grateful for you
    And your wisdom and love. This script felt like a special gift from God for me
    Right now. Been on a negative jag the last 2 weeks since ending a relationship. I tend to blame myself and live in the wreckage of the past or future.

  15. Titina says:

    I loved this article, it was very useful for me, thanks so much!!

  16. Fantastic it does work says:

    Doing it early in the morning and at night.

  17. Diana says:

    This was a real ah-ha! moment for me. I usually tap along with the scripts you share with us and sometimes they resonate but this one had me agreeing out loud without even thinking! Obviously I need to do some more work here. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Mary says:

    I have a brother who has bipolar disorder and so he is often swept away by emotions and thoughts which are angry and negative.
    Have you had any experience of tapping helping people with bipolar disorder? If tapping was done without professional guidance could it actually be harmful for someone with bipolar disorder?
    We’re always looking for things that might help to alleviate his suffering but don’t want to suggest anything that could inadvertently make his experience even worse.

  19. Judy Conor says:

    Thank you Nick you this came just in time. I have been doing a lot of tapping lately and was wondering why it seems to be so hard to clear out my fears. Now I know. You always give me clarity!

  20. Ginger says:

    Wow! This is the subject I struggle with every day; all of my life! Thank you for sharing such a valuable tool. Reminds me to keep tapping, too!

    Best regards!!

  21. Sheila says:

    Thanks Nick. I felt a huge change from the first round… much emotion. I had a good cry and then did some more until I felt the total release and the calmness and peace. Haven’t felt that for a few weeks now as I have been juggling so many tigers lately.

  22. Pia says:

    Nick!! Thank you!!!! You’re like my guardian angel. This article was perfectly timed, as a HUGE family crisis came up 5 days ago and you’ve made my life 100% better just by reading your article. I hope your day is complete happiness. Love and Light. Pia

  23. Fiona says:

    Thank you Nick. I am absolutely terrified right now! I am going thru so much having just separated from my husband, moved into a complete “doer-upper” and lost my job a couple months ago and living on thin air and prayer. Thank you so very much. I shall be doing this constantly for the next few days. Blessings 🙂

  24. lourdes says:

    I’m very appreciative of this info on our negativity bias. It’s a welcome relief to know this!

  25. Norah says:

    Thank you for this. I was struggling with this very thing yesterday. Very timely!

  26. Glory Heyde says:

    THANK YOU! I have been on a spiritual path for years and I do Tapping (which is a great tool), but this problem still exists. I tend to beat up on myself because “I should know better” having done so much spiritual work. Thank – you — This really helps from a scientific/physical side.

  27. Megan says:

    Awesome – Thank you!

  28. Leanne Mollins says:

    Your emails seem to be speaking directly to me. My guidance system seems to somehow be connected to yours because the last few weeks I have been going through some really tough stuff, and your emails speak directly to whatever is in my face on any given day. That gives me goose bumps and reminds me that the universe has my back.

  29. Gloria says:

    Thanks, Nick and Dr. Hanson. This article, just as all your other articles, Nick, are enlightening and a true gift. Do you know how powerful it is to learn that “it’s safe to feel safe”? Wow!

  30. Lila says:

    Thanks for that very good article! I’ll use it tout help a so négative friend!!!

  31. Michele says:

    Thank you

  32. maria says:

    The tapping feels just wonderful.
    Such an effective , easy way to come back in my centre!
    Thank you so much for all this awesome information, every time exciting and giving more confidence!
    THANKS from the heart …

  33. Bob Worthington says:

    Awesome Nick…………….

    Law of Attraction in action…………. I have been actively working on gratitude, staying in the positive, the solution for a week or more and have found it challenging at times. So what shows up in my e-mail? Your blog post………….Thank you man……………… I will add this to my morning tapping. Thanks for being the vehicle to my solution.

    I use EFT daily and have for years….both personally and professionally……..It is a life changer.

    Bob Worthington

  34. Elizabeth Webb says:

    I’ve been working so hard to uncover this negative character defect. WOW I can loosen up on myself now. Really needed this insight!

  35. Valerie says:

    Thank you for this eft Nick as I really needed this one this morning. I am definately in a better frame of mind after doing a few times.

  36. Lalitha Brahma says:

    Very useful and powerful information! Thank you NIck.

  37. KarenSue says:

    PERFECT TIMING!! Tapping open up the body’s energy system like flood gates for me. RELAX is much easier tapped then thinking about it….thanks

  38. Annette says:

    Hi Nick, meant to say this for such a long time but thank you so much for all that you do, your honest, genuine and joyful way you teach eft, and all the good work you and your family do is so wonderful. Referring to your piece above I sometimes used to find I didn’t know where the bad mood/negativity came from until I started to become more aware of my thoughts and realised it could be just a harmless comment someone made and I interpreted it in a negative way for me, now I try not to make any assumptions about what people say or do just let it go it was hard at the start now its getting easier and of course I attract less of these comments etc. its all so about letting it go the whole lot through our bodies and out……sounds so simple we make it all so complicated.
    Wondering when is your book coming out about tapping for physical well-being?
    Thanks again,

  39. njeri says:

    Wow very helpful

  40. mahram says:

    thank u so much nick n jess . i need to see your website every day this is my habbit . i print out your script and doing all morning n evening . that help me so much since 2012. again thank u. lovvvvvvvvvve

  41. Edelweiss says:

    Thank you so much for this article. It came at the exact right moment for me. I have managed to pull myself into a totally negative spiral of thought and this just touched me so deeply. Thank you.

  42. Marilyn Middleton Mellor says:

    I was so full of anger, frustration and fear about it taking 6 months to settle our house move due to our buyers mistakes I have been on the point of leaving my husband and just going away. I couldn’t stand anymore disappointment, then this morning this came and I tapped it. Feeling better. Thank you.

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