Ever been told by others that you seem to focus more on the negative than the positive? When evaluating a situation, it’s the negative “what if’s” that grab your attention and push away the positive possibilities? Well, it turns out you’re not alone. In fact, billions of people on this planet have the exact same experience! But not everyone lives from the place of negativity—some have learned how to flip their game and listen more to the positive.
What exactly am I talking about here? It’s the simple fact of negativity bias. Scientists say it is part of the human genetic map. Going back thousands of years in time to when humans lived in dangerous times, the negative bias helped us stay alive. We were alert to the risk of being eaten by a large predator or eating the wrong berry- both of which meant death. Our brains and bodies were wired to be aware of dangers in the world.
Adults tend to pay attention and learn from negative more than positive information. Negative bias is one of the primitive ways our brain has learned to keep us safe, alive, and aware of potential threats to our lives. We tend to overlook positive possibilities and events because we’re too worried about being harmed.
This constant negative bias mindset has a negative impact on our physical bodies when it’s in total control. Imagine being in a non-stop loop where all you can focus on is negativity and threats! This loop is also known as the cycle of flight-fight or freeze, but the negativity bias tends to keep us looping in the fight phase. Our body is in a constant state of arousal (often times fear) and prepared to flee at any moment. This results in a steady stream of stress hormones in our physical bodies.
Just as science has shown humans to be predisposed toward a negativity bias, recent research indicates there are things that can be done to increase awareness of our mindset and shift towards positivity.
Focus on Gratitude
Increase Compassion for self and others
Connect with Empathy (feelings toward self and others)
Use a different Perspective (perspective-taking)
Using only 1 of these tools on a consistent basis will help shift toward viewing your world as a positive place filled with possibilities and away from negativity.
Smooth Rock Psychological Services, LLC