This lovely TED talk (link incase video does t work) explains that we are terribly prone to hanging on to negatives, but life doesn’t have to be tainted by that. It struck me that in the experiments described it was, thankfully, much harder to turn an optimistic view into a pessimistic view than the other way around, but more than that, the view had been dictated in the first place by how the information was presented. Raw statistics can convey entirely opposite messages entirely based on how the words are phrased.
Blessings and curses!
In the case of a cancer diagnosis this puts enormous responsibility on the doctors who first tell the patient the news. Whether the statistics are presented as glass half full or half empty will have lasting implications for mood, expectation, hope and prognosis. (Patients who expect poorer outcomes will get poorer outcomes, regardless of prognosis.)
I am so grateful that my FIRST encounter with the oncology service was a three pronged attack with the surgeon (“Nigel”) , oncologist (“Bessie”) and the oncology nurse specialist (“Nora”) who between them did a great job of telling me that I had a brain tumour that had been fully excised as near as humanly possible and that that that was great news, that there was treatment that was going to do an amazing ‘mopping up exercise’ incase any cells were left behind and that this has much improved statistics of late (so not to put too much stock on them), and on top of which I was so fit and active and otherwise healthy that I would find this and any potential side effects a breeze, and that erveryone was looking forward to working with me to get the job done!
Bear in mind, this was not just persuading me this was an ample half-glass-full, this was doing a really good job of pointing out that a glass that had a dribble in the bottom was not empty and would be plenty for our needs!
So, thank you so much, Nigel, Bessie and Nora, you have stood me in good stead through much more negative messages. Like the participants in the TED talk study, i have experienced people pointing out the negatives and shaking my perspective , but the study didn’t go on to see whether those people could recover of thier own accord. I can witness that, after a temporary wobble, I am not knocked down . Maybe I am more stubborn, or maybe I have managed to conquer that trick of re- focusing on the positive, good things of life as described in the talk. Some days it takes more effort than others but, no offence, I suggest that, especially at those moments, you need someone around you who is a glass half full sort of person, and better still only spend time with those sort of people if at all possible. I am blessed with loads of lovely friends and family who are glass half full people. I can’t thank you all enough. Xx