Inner critic and negativity bias *and a vegan choc chop brownie recipe!* – Yoga teacher training journal #4 – notes from 14.7.20 mentor group and reflections

Negativity bias is the habit human beings have of ruminating on our mistakes, even after we’ve done something quite well. It comes from our instinctual need to watch out for what’s gone wrong and attend to that, but it makes it hard for us to maintain realistic perspective. Some things we can do to combat it:

  • For every class or workshop we teach, reflect in the same manner that we’d give feedback to a good friend: What’s something we’re proud of, what’s something we’d like to change, and what’s another thing that went well? Keep it in the “negativity sandwich.” For every negative thought, we need a few positive/encouraging ones to set it off.
  • Remind myself that this goes back to the yama aparigraha again – non-grasping – as well as the niyama santosha – contentment. The yamas and niyamas are yogic ethical guidelines from Patanjali’s yoga sutras. The yamas govern our interactions with others, while the niyamas govern out treatment of ourselves. Aparigraha tells us not to grasp for what we don’t need, presumably because of the harm it does to others. Santosha is, similarly, the practice of being content with oneself and one’s possessions and/or abilities, presumably to cultivate a sense of self security. I offer this understanding with the caveat that this is just my perspective from what I have studied so far, and I would love to hear your perspective or critique if I’ve written something that doesn’t make sense or is mistaken. To be content with myself and avoid grasping or coveting others’ realities, I must be honest with myself about my accomplishments and mistakes, step outside myself to gain perspective, and be happy that I have discovered something new to learn or practice.

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, and would like to share this delicious Choc Chip Brownie from expert vegan baker Sara Kidd. The first time I made these, they came out such a funny texture and looked quite strange. They were crumbly on the outside and gooey on the outside which was pleasant in the mouth but quite messy to eat! I was a little embarrassed to share them, but they were so delicious, and my aversion to food waste trumps my insecurity, apparently. I shared with flatmates and friends, and my neighbour who notoriously misses dairy in everything loved them so much that they asked for the recipe! So there you go. 🤷‍♀️ I made my first attempt the cover photo for this post, because I’m actually trying to normalise vegan food that doesn’t look like it was made in a professional kitchen with professional photographers. It was yummy and made my body and mind feel good, and next time I’ll know to measure the flour with a sieve and scale instead of by volume!

How does your negativity bias play out, and what do you do to calm it? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Peace and love, folks ☮️

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