Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

The Crow and The Hawk February 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 8:38 pm
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crow-attacking-red-tailed-hawkThis morning, like most days, I sat enjoying my coffee on my porch. For me, even in the cold of winter, it is my favorite way to start the day. This is because there almost always exists a still, meditative quality to the early morning which is enhanced by the clean brightness of a fresh layer of snow.
Like many mornings the only other creatures I come across in those early hours of a new day are the birds, and today was no exception. But rather than the usual company of songbirds, my feathered friends this morning were three squawking Crows and one very large Hawk.
You’ve seen this phenomenon haven’t you? It happens when a murder of Crows bands together to harass and ultimately scare away a bird of prey. It’s an impressive sight, as both birds have a particular magnificence about them that demand attention.
I watched as they flew from treetop to treetop until finally the Crows were satisfied with the distance the Hawk had flown from their “home-turf”, and they retreated victorious and calm. But this dance is not exclusive to these two types of birds. I have seen it play out before with other combinations of predators and prey. And as my morning moved on, I couldn’t’ help but think about their boisterous interaction and how it repeats itself over and over again in our day-to-day lives as well.
Only, in our lives, both predator and prey often occupy the same close-knit neighborhood – because in us, they represent the opposing voices inside our very minds. You see, it seems that all of us have within us two very different types of “self-talk”.
I am not talking here about the “cartoon angel and devil” sitting on our shoulders advising us on the “right and wrong” of a particular course of action. I am talking about that other kind of self-talk; that conversation between the parts of ourselves that can either “lift us up” or “tear us down”. We all have them. You know the ones… There is the predatory self-talk; “You’ll never get this done”, “You aren’t smart enough”, “No one will want to hear what you have to say”, or whatever particular combination of self-defeating words will trigger your particular psyche to shut-down. And then there is the encouraging self-talk; “You can do this”, “You are doing great”, and “You are totally on top of this material”. Unfortunately, for a lot of folks the former group gets a lot more time at the microphone than the latter. And there’s a reason for that – it’s called the “Negativity Bias”.
First described by social psychologist, Roy Baumeister in an article he co-authored in 2001 entitled “Bad is Stronger than Good”, the Negativity Bias refers to the psychological phenomenon in which humans pay more attention to, and give more weight to, negative rather than positive experiences or other kinds of information. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negativity_bias)
There is a lot of information out there about how to work with our negativity bias (See the work of neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom) – not to the extent that we are burying our heads in the sand and ignoring danger – but in order to help us temper this internal response when it’s input may not only be unnecessary but, destructive as well. But over and over again, I find that the most significant intervention we can make is to simply raise our awareness of it and recognize those negative voices when they occur.
You see, it seems that a lot of our negative self-talk likes to operate “on the down low”. When you really stop to notice them, to think about what they are saying, often this simple illumination itself can weaken the force of their message. Like the lion in the grass stealthily stalking its meal, detection significantly lowers the chances they are going home with a big supper.
Once recognized, you can work with doing a little “reality check”. You can consider more positive and encouraging things to say to yourself. You can choose to re-wire your brain by spending more time savoring the positive, or any number of other interventions. But, before you go there just take a moment to shine a little light on your self-talk. You will be pleasantly surprised to see what it has the power to illuminate. After all, if the Crows didn’t notice that Hawk in the first place, they never would have thought to chase it away.

 

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