I’ve heard a number of speakers in my professional field talk about “negativity bias.” Those who have spoken about this in my presence include: Paul Gilbert, PhD, Shauna Shapiro, PhD, Rick Hanson, PhD, Linda Graham, MFT, among a few others. I’m not dropping names for fun. I realized the other day that although I’ve heard this numerous times, it is finally now sinking into this brain of mine. Hooray!
What is negativity bias? It is an evolutionary, built-in way of being that brings negative experiences into our attention much more frequently and quickly than neutral or positive ones, AND, processing/rehashing/ruminating on the experiences lasts for some time. Since we are primed for the negative and it is going to happen without our control and awareness, the radical suggestion is to consciously increase our awareness toward what’s positive, or at the very least, neutral.
An example from my own experience this morning: I sat down on my cushion to meditate and part of my practice is to check-in with the body and notice what’s there. Typically, I become quickly aware of tightness, tension, discomfort. Today, I noticed that happening and gently guided myself to investigate what feels okay or pleasant. I noticed some ease straight away.
In many moments during the day, we can make an effort to pause and reflect on what’s right in this moment, rather than what’s lacking or difficult.
Give it a go, if you’d like to do so and comment below to share with me about what is right with you at this moment.