Lingering after images and meaning in life

After-imaging is related to visual perception and light activity associated with sight. It is an optical phenomenon whereby the image a person experiences, through sensation, remains lingering in an altered state. Within the after imagine of human experiences, meaning can be found that links to positive growth. This phenomenon is not reserved only for experiences of tragic events, but also when we stop to find meaning in good experiences as well.

Positive vs. negative after-image

The difference between positive and negative lingering affect is how we process the event, how a person uses cognitive ability. While both positive and negative after imaging can occur at the same time, visually, negative after-imagine occurs from desensitization to the stimulus. In the light our human experiences, desensitization falls in the parameters of “unless something happens extremely good or bad, we don’t fully acknowledge it as meaningful”. We tend not to value the great strengths that people use to literally pull themselves through difficult events, thus these and vital strengths go unnoticed, unappreciated and unrecognized.

The positive after imagines occur because of persistence that happens in the eye, and the chemical reaction that continues to influence sight phenomenon even after the image is no longer there. We, as humans on our own journeys in life have the ability to recognize and utilize these lingering affects to either produce a higher state of happiness, or persevering through a difficult time in our life. We have the ability to use our strengths in a persistent way, whereby even when the experience is gone, we can allow the positive growth rudiments to be nurtured through acknowledging our own strengths and abilities.

You don’t have to chose, just be aware

The beauty of distinguishing both the positive and negative after image is that we don’t have to, by understanding both phenomenons we can simply become aware.  We can be aware of our inner inabilities to pull ourselves through a difficult time in life, or we can embrace the good we put into the world and how it regenerates our inner-positive being. The tragedy would be to  discard and dismiss the after images, never extracting the full potential of what they hold.

About the author: Dr. Lynn Soots has been teaching psychology at the higher education level for over ten years. She is proud to integrate Positive Psychology applications in each of her courses to support growth and student goal attainment. She specializes in higher education online course-room design, adult learning, and diversity appreciation.

‘We are the Positive Psychology People’


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