Have you ever noticed that you tend to ruminate on the one piece of negative feedback you received versus the myriad of positive feedback? Does your inner voice tend to agree with that one negative comment and dismiss all of the positive comments you’ve received? If so, you are not alone. You are experiencing negativity bias.
Negativity bias means that our brains are hardwired to look for
and think about the dangers that could be lurking around the corner.
In fact, our brains respond more strongly to negative interactions, thoughts, and conversations than to positive ones. And we’re more likely to hold onto a bad interaction or insult than to positive interactions or a happy memory.
Why? Because this is what likely kept early humans alive. Those individuals who paid attention to possible dangers were more likely to survive the harsh and dangerous world of early humanity.
Quite simply, our brains are (still) trying to keep us safe by constantly looking for all that is wrong or could go wrong.
So, what can you do to retrain your brain when those pesky negative loop thoughts persist? Here are our top 3 go-to interventions when we find ourselves being more negatively focused.
- Focus on your breathing.
Take a few minutes each day to be mindful of your breathing. Studies have shown that a longer exhalation can reduce anxiety and stress. As an example, breathe in for four seconds and breathe out for 6 seconds.
- Use positive self-talk.
The next time that negative feedback loop is running, try reframing it to reflect something positive about yourself. Remind yourself of your worth.
- Hold onto the good thoughts.
As good thoughts or memories come to mind, try to savor them for as long as you can and when possible, intentionally replace negative thoughts with positive observations.
To be clear, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t ever stress about negative circumstances; they are inevitable. What we’re talking about is when negative thoughts take over and don’t allow you room to enjoy your positive moments, thoughts, and interactions.
Remember, the brain is like any other muscle that we need to train. Take a look at the suggestions above or try one of your own and let us know how it goes.