Day 11 Fighting Our Brain’s Negativity Bias

 Have you noticed that negative comments and events stick with us longer and influence us more than positive ones? A positive comment by a spouse or friend for example is appreciated, but the effects wear off quickly. A negative comment on the other hand sticks with you much longer. Say what? Yes, our brains have a bias to negativity. It’s measurable– there have been brain scan studies that show that our brain reacts more strongly to negative stimuli. How do we fight against our brain’s bias to negativity? Good question, right?

The first step is to realize that there is such a thing. Knowing that we react more strongly to negative comments allows us to take each piece of negativity with a grain of salt. It can be incredibly helpful to acknowledge that our mind and heart may be overreacting about something negative. On the other hand, knowing about this bias also allows us to make it a point to savor the positivity. Don’t dismiss a compliment out of hand. Instead, savor it, think about it, and make it a point to remember it, and allow it to lift you up when negativity brings you down.

I know, I know. Easier said than done. We are blasted with negative news these days! Since this bias to negativity is hard wired in our brains, it takes a lot of time and effort to build new, more positive habits. Remind yourself each morning that your mind is trying to force you to focus on the negative stuff and that it takes a conscious effort to balance it out by being mindful off all the good and happy things in our lives.

Over time this will allow us to grow a thicker skin when it comes to unwarranted criticism. Should you ignore every single comment or suggestion that you don’t like? Of course not. There is such a thing as constructive criticism that helps us to grow and get better at what we do. What we need to guard against are the negative words, events, and feelings that make us want to curl up in a fetal position, preferably in a dark distant cave. Counter that feeling with positive action.

A great exercise or ritual is to reflect on both the good and the bad on a daily basis. This helps to gain a little distance and see everything that’s happening to us in a better light. Keep a journal to write and or draw in. Try these prompts: What I loved about today was ______________.  What I didn’t love was ___________. Just the acknowledgement and noticing help balance out your day!  When you’re struggling with something negative that you’ve having a hard time getting past, talking things out with a friend is another great idea.

Do what you can to outweigh the negativity with the good stuff. Keep a box or file with some of the best positive emails and comments you’ve gotten. Read through them whenever you need to counteract something negative.


About Karen

Karen Karsten, CPCC, CAC, has had several business careers, in government, finance, retail and publishing. Each career was a building block that helped her create the life she has now as a coach, writer and executive director of Rich Chicks and Creative Principle of Think You Can LLC.

Her companies, Think You Can ( and Rich Chicks ( both explore the magic of prosperity and creating clarity about life values. Karen has total faith in the magic of belief. Notice how that works either way: belief of magic, magic of belief. Magic is there—in you, too. Take a moment right now and honor the magic in you.

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