Creative Mondays #025 – The negative brain.


I was talking to author, Mur Lafferty the other day.  Though we talk occasionally via text or Tweet, we hand’t spoken at any great length for some time so there was a bit of catching up to do.  Even though Mur and I are sort of on different paths, she’s an published author, I’m a…well, whatever I am, we are both creative folks and we  always find we feel the same way about certain situations that happen in our career.  One of the things we have in common is the random flare up of the negative brain.  That part of the brain that, even when something really good is happening, you focus on some negative aspect of it.  And a lot of times, for me, this tiny negative thing will completely outweigh all the good.  Mur and I spoke at length about this and I figured it’d be good to bring up here as some of you may have the same issue.

My therapist, yes, I go to a therapist, says the negative brain is a hold over from our evolutionary past.  At the time when we, as early humans, had to constantly be thinking about the negative things in order to survive from day to day.  We had to think about the worst because the worst was always right around the corner.  What if we don’t find food?  What if that wild animal attacks us?  What if this lake dries up?  We constantly had to worry about it.  Luckily, most people, have things easier these days, but the negative brain is still lingering with us.

I’m going to give you an example now of a recent flare up of my negative brain.  Unfortunately, I’m not going to get specific with the details.  I hope that, even by being general, you’ll get my point.  A year or so ago, I was offered a huge creative opportunity.  This was one of those things where it was so big I, of course, had to say yes.  And I did.  I was over the moon with excitement about this.  Huge smile on my face for days after I found out.  Then, as I began hearing details about this project and I realized that my involvement in the project, while still a huge opportunity, was not as big as initially thought it was going to be.  The project was still happening, I was still involved, it was just that tasks I thought would be assigned to me were going to be done by others.

Now this opportunity was something that people would PAY to do.  It was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I was going to be one of a very small handful of people to get to do.  But my negative brain wouldn’t let me see that.  My negative brain was constantly reminding me that I wasn’t going to get to do every aspect of this amazing job that I wanted to do.  And, in the end, it slightly tinged this incredible experience because my negative brain wouldn’t let me enjoy it.

This negative brain is something that I’ve had for a long time, as long as I can remember.  I guess the good thing now is that I’m recognizing it and can now focus on trying to fight it.  But the question is…how?

I’m sure that folks who are affected by this would just say, ignore your brain when it does that.  That’s a good piece of advice.  Easier said then done sometimes, though.  In thinking about what my therapist said about the negative brain being a holdover from our primitive self I thin the best solution is to EVOLVE.  Evolve my thinking to focus on the positives of the situation and not the negatives.

So if you have ‘negative brain’ know that you aren’t alone.  And you absolutely must not let it get in the way of your creativity.  Even if your brain is focusing on the negatives of a situation, you must keep pushing through with your creativity because not creating is worse!

Do you suffer from ‘negative brain?’  If so, let us know how you fight it in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Creative Mondays #025 – The negative brain.”

  1. Yes, YES, YESSSSS!!! Arrgh. I have often let this brain trip me up and stop me from taking risks because of whatever negative associations I may have. But creatively, it does help with comedy. If you reveal the pain and fear in music or comedy, even if it is very personally specific, it makes such a huge impact on the audience because everybody will identify. It brings out the dark side in comedy – something I always had fun exploring with you, by the way!

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