Have we been passed on Worry Genes from our Ancestors?

Focus on the positive, replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, embrace positive thinking, live in the now, be optimistic, positive thinking and positive attitude results in success, have faith that good things will happen and it will, change your negative thought patterns… billions of motivational phrases and quotes and speeches… they are everywhere. Though they are starting to get on my nerves, they probably wouldn’t have been so popular and all over the place had they been mundane and it came naturally for all of us humans to do so… right?

Apparently they are necessary. I have been trying to help my mother to get out of her depressive ways of thinking for years and she’s not alone, for a lot of people’s struggles nowadays arise from negative thinking, which truly makes life more difficult. Like my mom, the worst-case scenario is the thought that controls one’s mind and one cannot relax until they are absolutely, without a shred of doubt, sure that everything is ok. It starts with just a thought or a feeling or a bleak or a fearsome view of the future and then drags one down a drain of negativity and depression. And for many others, this dullness view of oneself or life is toxic and it does contribute to shitload of anxiety in private and social situations and eventually holds one back from actually living.

If you go to a therapist one of the core and common Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to help in such cases is Cognitive Restructuring. Cognitive Restructuring is, basically, identifying and changing your negative automatic thought patterns and beliefs into more useful and accurate thinking habits and responses. It helps the patient think more rationally, face fearful situations and have less disruptive reflections and afterthoughts.

That being said… why does it, for a lot of people, come more naturally to think negatively? Why do we, as a species, so often assume the worst is yet to come and tend to worry about hypothetical troubles, even if they most unlikely to happen? Why do we have to consciously force ourselves to be optimistic… to give up on trying to maintain control over imaginary problems in the future? Why do we often retain and remember old painful and sometimes embarrassing memories or hurtful situations and relive them in our minds? Why do so many of us feel the anxious need to be socially accepted, which frequently leads to many psychological complications?

Let’s take it back to the basics… Identifying danger was fundamental to human survival in prehistoric times. As hunters and gatherers, if one recognised something as dangerous and it turns out to be nothing, what’s the harm, relatively speaking! Nevertheless, if one thinks positively and that threat is real, they’re probably screwed…

Furthermore, throughout our evolution, belonging to a tribe or community was crucial for survival and reproduction and there are tons of literature out there about this. Like most mammals; we have always been dependent on our relationships for such… we needed to work with others in groups to find food, take care of our young and guard the tribe from outside predators. To do so, we required gaining and fostering and maintaining the trust and love and respect of our community. However, if one broke that trust, they would likely be outcasted, which was something to be feared.

Thus, it makes sense that out of such fears, the tendency to find the worst in every situation, the fear and anxiety from being socially judged and compared, fears of rejection and the craving for social acceptance were developed and became both instinctual and essential for human survival and the perseverance of the species as a whole. It is a mental process that has been pre-dispositioned in our minds and passed on from generation to generation until our modern age. But unfortunately, what worked for 200k old homo sapiens does not necessary benefit us in the 21stcentury. This way of thought has become like a decayed wisdom tooth, though the tooth is not needed yet if left untreated it could eventually be fatal or best-case scenario it will make you live miserably in pain…

But it does make sense that we need to consciously make the effort to change these innate behaviors or patters.

My take on this is… we should not beat ourselves much for doing that, nor judge others who do… we are sadly that kind of mammal! Ohhh… and connect or create a tribe…

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