Sh*t Your Mind Does
The human mind is infinitely fascinating. It allows for us to think ahead as part of planning for the future, it permits us to engage in creative problem solving to address dilemmas we face in our everyday lives, and it also gives us the ability to use our imaginations among many other helpful processes.
Our minds can also be a real pain in the ass sometimes. Those same helpful processes can also be a double-edged sword. We can get caught up in worrying about the future, ruminating about things in the past, and we can become really focused on the negative.
This short article will focus on how our minds can dwell on negative events. As humans, we have a negativity bias. Put simply, this means that we tend to pay more attention to negative information than to positive. There’s an evolutionary basis to this very human process.
Imagine this: if you’re a caveperson wandering around doing your caveperson thing and you stumble across a patch of colourful berries. You’re feeling kind of hungry and decide to eat some of the berries. Shortly after eating them, you get quite sick. The next time you’re out and come across those berries you’re probably not very likely to eat them again even if you’re very hungry.
That’s the negativity bias hard at work trying to keep you safe. From an evolutionary standpoint, our minds are hardwired to work from a safety first or better-safe-than-sorry perspective. It’s much more advantageous for humans to focus on potential threats if we are looking at things from an evolutionary lens. In other words, the negativity bias is one way our minds try to protect us. The caveat here is that in trying to protect us, our minds can also end up causing us a lot of grief.
Our minds can get so caught up in trying to protect us from potential threats that it can skew what we pay attention to and what we don’t. For instance, imagine you just gave a presentation at work or school. Everyone who listened to the presentation gave you wonderful feedback except for one person who had a more critical perspective.
We are more likely to pay attention to and remember that single person’s more critical feedback and to discount all the other more positive feedback. This is the case even though the positive feedback outnumbered the negative and is an example of a more modern version of the negativity bias.
Next time you notice the negativity bias showing up in your life, remember this is one way our minds try to protect us from harm. Some other things we can experiment with in those instances include dropping the struggle or looking at the mind like a doom-and-gloom radio station.
Not sure where to start in dealing with the negativity bias or would like someone to talk things through with? Feel free to connect with us at Renew Neurotherapy to set up an appointment with a mental health professional.
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