~ Glass Half Full; Glass Half Empty

19th December 2019

Most of us have heard the above phrase and someone once said “well its only a glass of water!”  Is the latter that simple?  The phrase may be overused though the underlying message is important.

We tend to belong in one of the above camps though of course there are variations to this and life’s challenges may also play a part.

Recently talking to a colleague she mentioned that a significant birthday was coming up.  My response was to the effect how are you going to celebrate.  Her reply was she was not intending to celebrate and that she hates birthdays - well I think she meant she hates her birthday not everyone else’s!  It got me thinking as I’ve heard similar responses to New Year’s Eve celebrations. Both birthdays and NY seem to trigger either absolute positive or negative reactions.

After a little digging around the negative aspect of this with colleagues and friends it seems that birthdays for some are a reminder of ageing and how much we feel we haven’t achieved and in some cases feeling that we’ve run or are running out of time and therefore a birthday reinforces these thoughts.

Regarding New Year it appears that some of us feel a pressure to complete or make resolutions to “do better” and that this is added pressure.  Thoughts and feelings that we have let ourselves down in the past year and are unlikely to do better in the year ahead reinforce that we prefer not to celebrate or make resolutions.

Well, this is a valid point. The brain doesn’t distinguish between negative or positive reinforcement and what we feed ourselves is either helpful or not.  It is therefore incumbent on us to feed the brain, or reinforce what we would like to be, rather than reinforce thoughts that do not assist us.  Of course this is not as easy as it sounds.  It takes practice and a willingness to work at it.  If we have reinforced negative thoughts for a long period then change will not happen overnight.

Our thoughts and behaviour around negative or positive messaging may have been learned from our background.  It is worth reflecting on.  Our thought patterns are not fixed and with work we can if we want to work on change that benefits rather than dismays us and keeps us from effecting change for the better.

Alex Roberts