We’re people who get into the wrong mindsets too easily, but we try to value persistence and people’s ability to stay within a negative situation long after they should have called it quits. It is like being stuck on a train that you don’t want to be on when you’re not going anywhere. Why are you on the train? Is it because you like being on the train? No, not usually. The train is stuffed full of people and is beginning to feel claustrophobic. There’s a man down by the end who is yelling obscenities and you’re in no hurry to get anywhere, but you don’t get off.
Because today you decided you were going to keep riding the train.
Now that is a waste of a day, but there are other little wastes that we do when we invoke something which Andre Kukla, author of “Mental Traps: The Overthinker’s Guide to a Happier Life”calls Negative Persistence.
Negative Persistence is what keeps you from trying a food again because you disliked it when you were a child or stops you from going back to that restaurant that your friends all rave about because you had a bad experience once. Negative persistence is something which was incredibly important to our evolution, protecting us from what made us sick and stopping us from doing things which we could remember hurting us. Something that Negative Persistance doesn’t do though is make us happy. In fact, negative blocks our happiness.
It stops us from trying things because we’re afraid and keeps us trapped in a long term cycle of unhappiness simply because we are afraid of the result. Negative persistence is the reason why we won’t quit our jobs or why we won’t make changes in our lives because that rut, that routine no matter how negative… is safe. Or at least it feels safe. Ruts can be dangerous to our mental, emotional and eventually physical well-being. They can be what torment us and all because we don’t want to step outside of them no matter what options are presented.
When a marriage is failing, we stop ourselves from seeking out solutions to the problem because we’re afraid of being caught as well as the stigma that goes along with it. Why? There are services that are discreet enough to protect even the most prolific philanderer yet we’re afraid to cheat. Cheating will make you in the short term and can make you a better husband or wife in the long term. Most of the time when people cheat it is because there are a few specific needs which aren’t being met. The majority of the time once those needs are met there is significant changes in the person’s personality which leaks into every aspect of their life.
They are happier, more fulfilled, and no longer bound by the mental trap of negative persistence which has kept them under lock and key for so long.
If your life feels like it’s in dire need of a change, don’t be afraid that you need to overhaul your entire life to enact that change. Often, by pinpointing what it is that you’re lacking in your life you can make a single tiny change which will end up affecting your overall outlook as a whole.
After all, life’s short. Why would you wait while stuck in a depressing loop for something to change?
The only one who can make the change is you.