How to Scientifically Stop Your Negativity Bias
Wednesday, June 7, 2023 - Joe Kiedinger
This morning, when you left for work, where was your head at? Did you drag yourself into the car while thinking, “This is the Monday-est Wednesday ever?” Did you trudge into work with low energy and walk straight to your desk without greeting your coworkers?
The human brain is wired to be negative 80% of the time. Really! It’s called the negativity bias and Nate Klemp, PHD argues that it’s “an adaptive trait of human psychology that served us well when we were hunting with spears on the savanna 120,000 years ago.” Way back when, it makes sense that we would place greater focus on negative events that happened to us. That knowledge kept us alive when carnivores were chasing us!
But that focus on the negative doesn’t serve you in today’s day and age. It actually holds you back. That small slight from a coworker in a meeting fills your brain with a flood of stress hormones and causes you to unnecessarily fixate on a tiny “threat” that puts you in no real danger.
So, what should you do about your tendency toward the negative?
- Remember, you’re in charge of your energy
It’s easy to walk through life with a victim mentality, simply reacting to things as they come at you and placing blame on others for the day’s events. That’s a load of crap. You are always in control.
Start by taking responsibility for your attitude and your energy today. Only you can choose how to process the information you receive. Pull the emotions out of the equation and look at each event as a fact. Take a moment to pause, reflect and then respond rather than simply reacting without thought. Not everything needs to be a problem. You can choose to acknowledge an event and not get emotional—or stressed.
- Stop negativity in its tracks
Here’s a quick way to jolt yourself out of negativity when you feel it coming on. Toss out a code word or goofy move. Really!
For me, I’ve been known to say, “That’s adorable” or the old Michael Jackson, “yee-hee” while doing his infamous side-kick. It sounds ridiculous, but it totally works… it’s science!
- Why does it work?
You may have heard of the Law of Opposites that exists in nature. If there’s day then there must be night. If there’s dark then there must be light. These opposites cannot exist in the same place at the same time. It’s for this same reason that our brains can’t be negative and positive at the same time. You can trick yourself out of one mode and into the other by the power of your own choice.
You’re in complete control of the energy you bring to work today… and to your family tonight. What will you choose? Don’t fall down the victim ladder. It’s up to you to decide!
ACTION PLAN: It’s up to you to decide if you’re living in negativity or positivity.Get after it with our Re-Imagined Leader Series. This series of 5 levels of leadership training includes How You’re Emotionally Wired and The Stress-Free Leader—which you just got a tiny taste of in this WOW! Enter your email to get the PDF and learn more!