How many times have you accused someone of being so negative? Or has anyone ever called you a “negative Nancy”? It seems that human nature causes us to focus on the negative more than the positive. According to a whole lot of research out there, these negative tendencies occur because our brain is wired to scan for threats. Did you know that? I did not! This phenomenon is known as negativity bias.
Negativity bias is our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events. Also known as positive-negative asymmetry, this negativity bias means that we feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than we feel the joy of praise.very well mind
Negativity bias not only protects us from threats. According to an article in Very Well Mind, negativity bias causes us to:
- Remember traumatic experiences better than positive ones.
- Recall insults better than praise.
- React more strongly to negative stimuli.
- Think about negative things more frequently than positive ones.
- Respond more strongly to negative events than to equally positive ones.
While I appreciate having my survival instincts intact, I think it sucks that we are predisposed to being “negative Nancy’s”. Oh, for all of you men out there thinking that this is exclusive to women, it’s not! You suffer from negativity bias as well. Meaning, you are predisposed to being “negative Ned’s”.
Fortunately our brains are neuroplastic (I am throwing around a lot of “big words” today :-))
Neuroplasticity, capacity of neurons and neural networks in the brain to change their connections and behaviour in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction.Dictionary britannica
Our wonderful neuroplastic brains, with some training, allow us to shift our thought patterns so that we can replace all of that negative garbage in our minds with healthy, positive thoughts. Here are a few suggestions:
- practice mindfulness
- practice gratitude
- pay attention to your thought patterns and when you start to focus on the negative, shift your focus to something positive
- repeat the mantra “positive energy” several times a day
- do something to boost your oxytocin levels
- stop yourself when you are about to criticize or judge a stranger and find something positive to say. If you have nothing positive to say, say nothing at all.
- take some time each day to write some positive thoughts
- SEEK THERAPY! There is no better way to learn new behaviors than with a person trained to teach them.
WHATEVER YOU DO, REFUSE TO STAY STUCK IN THE NEGATIVE! LIFE IS TOO SHORT!