Effects of Negative Thinking + How to Overcome Negativity Bias




, Effects of Negative Thinking + How to Overcome Negativity Bias

Ever discover that damaging feelings, resembling disappointment and anxiousness, are likely to make an even bigger affect on us and last more than constructive feelings? Should you’re somebody who spends extra time desirous about upsetting or bleak occasions in your life somewhat than uplifting ones, know that you simply’re not alone — that is referred to as a negativity bias, and it’s one thing that impacts most individuals.

Though being targeted on challenges and even regrets in your life can typically be a very good factor — contemplating it could actually enable you develop and plan for the long run — if you wish to be blissful (and who doesn’t?), then an excessive amount of negativity can stand in your means.

As a result of our brains naturally are likely to fixate on the damaging, now we have to consciously carry our consideration towards the constructive if we need to hold issues in steadiness.

How can we do that? Under we have a look at methods to handle negativity bias, resembling by working towards extra self-awareness, gratitude and perspective-taking.

What Is Negativity Bias?

Negativity bias describes how most individuals are usually impacted extra by damaging occasions of their lives than by constructive ones.

The Constructive Psychology web site states the definition of negativity bias as “our proclivity to take care of, study from, and use damaging info excess of constructive info.” This may result in issues resembling ruminating on damaging ideas, regretting previous errors, worrying rather a lot in regards to the future and feeling depressed.

What is negativity in an individual precisely? Negativity is the expression of criticism of or pessimism about one thing.

That is the alternative of positivity, which is “the observe of being, or tendency to be, constructive or optimistic in perspective.”

Damaging feelings can embody:

  • insecurity
  • disappointment
  • anger
  • bitterness
  • guilt
  • disgrace
  • disappointment
  • fear
  • panic

When individuals really feel damaging they’re extra prone to do a number of the following:

  • Reply to threatening stimuli of their atmosphere
  • Keep in mind insults extra so than compliments
  • Dwell on the previous and replay disagreeable or traumatic occasions
  • Really feel guilt and disgrace over previous errors
  • Really feel indignant and resentful towards others
  • Have low shallowness resulting from filtering out constructive features of oneself


What’s an instance of negativity bias? Researchers typically use the 4 ideas beneath to unpack several types of negativity biases:

  • Damaging efficiency — Constructive and damaging entities maintain completely different significance to us, even when they’re skilled as being equally emotional.
  • Steeper damaging gradients – Negativity of dangerous occasions will increase sooner after they develop nearer to us.
  • Negativity dominance – When one thing is a mixture of damaging and constructive, it normally winds up feeling largely damaging.
  • Damaging differentiation – Damaging occasions are felt as being extra complicated and normally end in a greater diversity of responses.

There are many on a regular basis conditions through which one of these bias makes an affect on our decision-making and behaviors. Listed here are some examples:

  • We are likely to work tougher to not lose issues (a damaging), resembling cash, than we do to earn them (a constructive).
  • We really feel upset about dropping one thing, resembling a relationship, than we felt blissful about gaining it within the first place.
  • If we obtain each constructive and damaging suggestions over a mission, we’re extra prone to give attention to the criticisms and really feel upset.
  • Once we assume again on occasions, we’re extra prone to recall the small print that made us really feel dangerous than people who made us really feel blissful.

The place It Comes From

What causes negativity? Most researchers (however not all) consider that it’s truly constructed into people as an “adaptive evolutionary operate,” which means that it helped our ancestors to outlive, so it was handed down over many generations.

Basically, specializing in the damaging, resembling hunger and predators, was a matter of life and loss of life for people dwelling many centuries in the past. A larger give attention to the threatening/damaging stimuli in individuals’s environments helped them keep away from being harm or rejected, which led to a better likelihood of survival.

This in flip meant negativity bias bought handed down as people developed.

Why is it typically simpler to be damaging than constructive? It’s as a result of our brains prioritize damaging info and threats.

This truly helps us study from a younger age which issues we should always keep away from so we don’t get harm. Whereas this adaptation is useful for conserving our species alive, it could actually sadly result in poor moods, stress and lots of related results.

One other necessary motive why individuals fall into feeling damaging is due to how negativity transfers simply from individual to individual. This phenomenon is known as “emotional contagion,” suggesting that poor moods could be contagious.

Because the Aware Ambition web site places it, “Individuals who categorical negativity could be like emotional black holes. Everybody who is available in contact with them suffers the implications.”

What a part of the mind is accountable for negativity?

Analysis exhibits that damaging feelings activate the amygdala, a construction within the mind’s limbic system that psychologists say is targeted on managing concern, threats and dangerous information.

The limbic system performs a job in controlling many cognitive processes, and the amygdala is taken into account probably the most “primitive” a part of the limbic system that governs many feelings and in addition motivation.

Once we expertise damaging occasions, they get saved in our reminiscences extra simply than constructive occasions. In addition they keep in our consciousness for longer as vivid short-term reminiscences, which helps our brains course of and study from them.

Results of Negativity

Is being damaging a nasty factor? Whereas some degree of negativity in each particular person’s life is anticipated and “regular,” an excessive amount of could be harmful to your well being (and for many who spend a number of time with you, too).

Negativity is linked to elevated melancholy and anxiousness, which isn’t stunning contemplating it makes us extra prone to be regretful and fearful.

Research have discovered that negativity can result in stress-related physiological signs, resembling elevated coronary heart charges and better startle responses. This may increasingly make it onerous to sleep, result in adjustments in urge for food/digestion and contribute to fatigue.

An excessive amount of negativity may also result in issues in our relationships, bother with decision-making and bother with focusing/sustaining consideration. Once we’re overly damaging it might be onerous to belief individuals and construct significant relationships, since we assume individuals are “all dangerous” and can allow us to down.

We would even be inclined to keep away from dangers, which limits our progress, to cross up challenges that may be good for us and to miss constructive criticism that may finally assist us enhance.

The best way to Overcome Negativity Bias

So how do you do away with negativity?

Listed here are some methods for conserving a constructive mindset and minimizing negativity in your life:

1. Observe Self-Consciousness

Initially, it helps to realize consciousness about the way you’re feeling by observing your emotional experiences.

You are able to do this by way of practices like mindfulness meditation, a physique scan, journaling or speaking with somebody you belief, which all contain approaching your interior expertise with “nonjudgmental consciousness.”

When you’re conscious of your personal emotional state, it’s simpler to see how a negativity bias could also be taking part in a job. Then, with extra perception you possibly can provide you with methods to show issues round.

2. Flip Down Damaging Self-Speak

Difficult damaging self-talk and changing it with constructive self-talk as a substitute is a good way to begin bettering your outlook and shallowness. You are able to do this by “speaking to your self such as you would a good friend.”

For each criticism you’ve got of your self working by means of your thoughts, attempt to change it with a number of affirmations specializing in one thing you’re pleased with. It’s also possible to use this identical technique on the subject of flipping damaging recurring ideas that you’ve got about others.

Remember that no matter you’re feeling, it’s doubtless solely short-term since feelings are all the time shifting. You don’t have to pressure away damaging emotions, however you possibly can decelerate and observe the ideas contributing to your feelings somewhat than performing on them impulsively.

three. Give attention to Gratitude and Search for the Positives

When one thing dangerous occurs in your life, is there a means you possibly can restructure and reframe the expertise to take a look at the upside or “silver lining”? Maybe you’ll find a hidden lesson related to a difficult occasion that’s truly one thing to be thankful for.

Listed here are some steps you possibly can take to focus extra on the positives in your life:

  • Preserve a each day gratitude journal. Attempt to interact totally in joyful experiences, after which file them that day that can assist you savor and keep in mind them.
  • Restrict your publicity to information protection, which normally focuses most on attention-grabbing issues on the planet.
  • Write down compliments that folks offer you, and retailer them in a “positivity” folder.
  • Work with a therapist educated in cognitive behavioral remedy who will help you reframe your ideas. For instance, your therapist could enable you discover ways to label the method of pondering so you may get some house between you and your damaging ideas.

One other technique to doubtlessly curb negativity is to concentrate to your physique language and facial expressions. For instance, standing up straight and smiling can truly assist raise your temper and make you extra assured when dealing with challenges.

four. Give Others the Advantage of the Doubt

It’s simple to harp on insults and take damaging feedback personally, however as a lot as attainable, remember that different individuals’s feelings and opinions normally have little to do with you.

When somebody makes you’re feeling badly about your self/your life, assume that the particular person is struggling ultimately and isn’t deliberately hurting you. Attempt working towards compassion and work on perspective-taking — this manner you’re much less prone to overreact and to remain fixated on the damaging.

5. Attempt to Keep away from Spreading Negativity to Others

While you do inevitably really feel down, attempt to keep away from spreading your emotions to others. It’s helpful to speak out your issues, however you don’t have to blame others or take your anger out on them.

Should you’re in a nasty temper and need to forestall your self from spreading it to others, distraction can typically assist. That will help you from overanalyzing your ideas and letting them proceed to tug you down, strive doing one thing that makes you’re feeling calmer, resembling studying, figuring out, going for a stroll exterior, cleansing your home or doing one thing artistic.


  • A negativity bias describes how, as people, we pay extra consideration to damaging/threatening issues in our environments than to constructive ones.
  • What causes negativity bias? It’s believed to be “onerous wired” in people as an evolutionary adaptation, because it helped our ancestors survive. Whereas it’s pure and has some benefits, it could actually additionally improve melancholy, stress and anxiousness.
  • How do you cease negativity bias? Some workout routines to assist lower it and increase positivity embody conserving a gratitude journal, meditation/self-awareness practices, speaking to a therapist, reframing ideas, savoring fulfilling moments, studying to not take issues so personally, and writing down compliments and achievements.