How Negativity Affects the Brain

Hi there my beautiful lovelies! Hope you guys are doing well and staying safe. Today, I will talk to you about our brain’s role in negative thoughts and how negativity affects the brain.

Our Brains Love Negativity

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Have you noticed even through a sea of compliments, our minds only focus on one or two critics? Well, our brain is doing that. Research shows that our brains evolved to react much more strongly to negative experiences than positive ones. It kept us safe from danger. But in modern days, where physical danger is minimal, it often just gets in the way. As a result, we are often our own worst enemies. It’s called the negativity bias.

Our Brain and Negativity Bias

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The neurological roots of the negativity bias—first identified by psychologists Paul Rozin and Edward Royzman in 2001—started long before that. In Dr. Rick Hanson’s book on this topic, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, he wrote that humans share ancestors with “bats, begonias, and bacteria that go back at least 3.5 billion years.” According to Dr. Hanson, over hundreds of millions of years, it was a matter of life and death to pay extra attention to dangers and predators, react to them intensely, remember them well, and over time become even more sensitive to them. Researches found that bad experiences are almost always stronger than good—and the way we take in that information shapes how we see ourselves. Research shows that while our brains might process everything our eyes see, the mind might never become aware of it. Your focus and your attention are the keys to the information processing that filters what goes on in the conscious mind.

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When we focus on negative things, we actually reshape our perception into seeing negative things. You might be so focused on counting all the negative events in your life that you entirely miss the positive gorilla that’s in the frame. Not only does negative stimuli trigger more neural activity, but research shows negativity is detected more quickly and easily. The amygdala—the brain region that regulates emotion and motivation—uses about two-thirds of its neurons to detect bad news, Hanson wrote. Hence, two-thirds of your motivation regulator is designed to focus on negativity. That seems problematic. Also, economic studies have shown people are more likely to make financial and career decisions based not on achieving something good but on avoiding something bad.

So, how do we overcome the negativity bias, come back next Sunday for more information? I would love to know about your experience with negativity bias. I look forward to reading your comments and feedback.

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