Research says yes.
Sorry, if you thought you were a positive person….
It’s called negativity bias. It’s sourced from a region of our brain that formed eons ago when when we roamed the Earth scanning for any sign of physical threat in order to survive. Turns out that in modern times, even though physical threats are not so severe, our brains have been molded by centuries of “threat alert” to find signs of danger even when there are none.
In short, without any intervention or conscious choice on our part, we will look for what’s wrong rather than what’s right.
As we work towards what we want more of in our lives and commit to the necessary changes we must make to receive and achieve these experiences- we will not always meet our expectations.
We will fail in some way according to our own measure. It’s so easy to allow negativity bias to kick us further down to the ground, especially when we are not even aware that it exists.
But now we do!
Many people speak out against about positive psychology as being unrealistic or skimming over what’s unpleasant, leaving negative emotions to fester unaddressed with the danger of rising up later to consume us in flames.
Ok, maybe a bit dramatic – but you get the picture.
The point is that negativity is a choice. A choice that the human species made long ago (for good reason) which has been wired into our psyche. As we become more aware of the life we want to lead in current times, we become more aware of how we are getting in our own way though our negativity bias.
This can lead to a new choice. Do we want to continue defaulting towards seeing the down side of everything or do we want to choose to see what could be good about this?
As we celebrate our efforts to change, no matter how small or insignificant, our minds may tell us that we are fooling ourselves. This is an opportunity to listen with openness and curiosity. Then if appropriate and prudent after our consideration, we can thank our ever vigilant negativity bias for the heads up. We can respond with earnestness, “I think I’d rather see it from the sunny side of the street.”
By embracing both points of view, negative and positive, nothing is left out or denied. We also realize that any point of view can be justified. The real choice is for us to decide which view will serve us better on the road to getting what we want more of in our lives.
What do you choose to celebrate today?
Action tip for working your Inner Genius. Write down what worked out well this week, even in the smallest way towards creating the conditions for the life that you want. Today is the day to notice and celebrate. Setbacks are reasons to celebrate as well. When we take note of them, our awareness increases – when we know what doesn’t work and we really feel it, chances are we will be less inclined to repeat it.
Jo-Aynne von Born, Certified Professional Coach