How good it would be if we could simply flush the negative memories down the drain and selectively remember and focus on the positive ones! Well, such a wonderful notion, except the reality is almost 180 degree opposite. Yes, with due respect to the positive psychology movement out there, fact is that human brain has a tendency to remember negative experiences more vividly and for longer.
So next time when you blame a friend for not burying the hatchet; or a colleague for not able to remove the bad blood between him and a counterpart; or yourself for not being able to come out of that strange discomfort you feel while talking to someone you haven’t been on best of the terms with, then do not forget that to do all that, human brain has to work way harder than usual to go against its basic fabric.
And it is not a sign of emotional weakness or pessimism. Why do I say so? Well, before we discuss the underlying reasons, see this video to get the gist of what we are saying, why it is important, and how it has relevance in terms of both personal relationships as well as at workplace…
Yes, the rationale behind this point is rooted in the domain of evolutionary psychology. As you saw in the video, human brain has got developed through a process spanning thousands of years and has retained the features which aided our survival during the course of our evolution. For instance, in the Savannas of Africa, what was more important to remember for survival? – The place where you had seen a fruit, or the place where you had seen a snake?
Well, it’s a no-brainer. If you can save yourself from a snake then you can always search for another fruit. Isn’t it? Yes, we are the progeny of those ancestors who remembered negative things in more details, and for relatively longer. And for all the obvious reasons, this trait has got passed on to us – the modern humans. Now you can see this tendency at work in all spheres – from board games to board rooms, and from drawing rooms to corridors of power.
Yes, in all spheres, it is of immense help if you are aware of interconnections between brain and behavior, as only a detailed knowledge of ‘structure and functioning of human brain’ combined with psychological concepts can give us the all-important ‘social & emotional intelligence’ required to excel in the various roles we play at home and at workplace. This emotional & social intelligence is the science of managing self and connecting with others – a science that can be learnt, practiced and mastered.
However, it all begins with some important realizations like…‘Forgetting negative experiences isn’t easy’.
Dr. Sandeep Atre
‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert
Founder – Socialigence
Note: Socialigence (www.socialigence.net) offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India.