Why Negativity Can Rule Our Lives, and How We Can Fix It

FYI: My blog looks different this morning not by my own choice, but because I’ve been having continuing technical problems with WordPress and/or Fat Cow. Themes are blocking out menus and taking me to white screens that say “skip to content.” I’m also having problems at my brand new Anderhill site. I had to change my theme here in order to even work on my blog last night. I’ll likely have to do the same at Anderhill. Between continuing technical problems and a decreasing audience I’m rethinking my place on the Internet. I actually wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, but this note was written today. That said, onto today’s post…

Sometimes it feels like life sucks! You ever feel that way? Don’t lie. For all the views of happy people on social media, we are often bombarded with worry and negativity. Sometimes it can feel like our lives are overtaken by the bad stuff. There’s actually a reason this happens. It’s called negativity bias.

Have you ever found yourself dwelling on an insult or fixating on your mistakes? Criticisms often have a greater impact than compliments and bad news frequently draws more attention than good. The reason for this is that negative events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones. Psychologists refer to this as the negative bias (also called the negativity bias), and it can have a powerful effect on your behavior, your decisions, and even your relationships. – verywellmind.com

Negativity Bias Is Real and We All Suffer From It

That’s right. To some extent or another, everybody struggles with negativity. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has days where every little thing that goes wrong makes the day shitty. But is the day really shitty? Probably not. It only feels shitty because I choose to focus on the negative events. Chances are good that there are as many good things going on as bad.

As humans, we tend to do this:

  • Remember traumatic experiences more than good ones
  • Recall insults more than praise
  • React more strongly to negative shit
  • Think about negative things more often than positive
  • Respond more strongly to negative events

That’s all part of negativity bias. I woke up this morning and turned on my bedroom light. It burnt out. “Fuck!” I thought. What a great way to start my day! (Note sarcasm.) Then I started noticing all the other crappy stuff. The kitchen was dirty. Was that scratch always on the floor? Boom. I’m instantly a grumpy old man, negative and worrying. Soon, every single sound and comment is getting on my nerves.

How Do We Stop Negativity Bias?

Like anything, negativity is a habit. It’s a bad habit. Sure, as human beings we are more prone to negativity than positivity. That doesn’t mean we have to dwell on the bad shit. We can learn ways to focus on the good. Here are a few suggestions for change:

  1. Stop negative talk: So I immediately told myself my day was going to suck this morning because a lightbulb burnt out. Those thoughts didn’t help. Next thing you know, it’s as if I’m finding stuff to stay negative about. But that’s how negativity bias works. You notice one shitty thing, and soon the whole world is going to hell. So it’s key to stop the negative talk as soon as you notice it.
  2. Rethink situations: Let’s say your girlfriend or boyfriend makes a negative comment about you. You might start to worry that they are going to leave you. But you’re probably exaggerating. Rethink things. Maybe they are having a bad day and the comment was less about you and more just a way to relieve some frustration.
  3. Create new patterns: The problem with negativity bias is that it spreads… fast. So one negative thought can quickly lead to another. Then it can rub off on other people around you. Before you know it, everyone is pissed off. This is why it’s important to create new patterns. I’ve discovered that exercise can help to kill negativity. Getting physical gets the blood flowing and clears the mind. This is why morning exercise can be so important.
  4. Savor the good stuff: We have much to be thankful for. My family and friends have always been here for me. That’s not something everyone can say. I’m thankful for that. I have a decent place to live, a good job, a dependable car, and I have the freedom to travel. That’s all good stuff.

Nobody Is Perfect, Just Do Your Best

Nobody can get rid of all negativity. You wouldn’t want to. Without some downside to life, we’d have nothing to work toward, to look forward to. The key is to simply do your best to think positively as often as possible. Be aware of your thoughts. When you note the negative ones taking over, try to kick some ass.

It’s not easy. Nobody is perfect. The best you can do is to do your best.