Why Is It Good To Be Negative?
At my Northwood therapy practice I help clients to focus their minds positively, so that they can live free of smoking, lose weight and overcome anxiety and depression. But why do our minds focus in the negatives in the first place?
Have you ever felt that you spend more time dwelling on the bad things in life than the good? Perhaps people tell you that you’re always seeing the negative in things or you should lighten up?
Well, there may be a good reason for your pessimism; being aware of danger protects you!
Miscalculations in our childhood brain can create behaviors and limiting beliefs that we carry into adulthood. If we look into our past and something see something negative, we build on that negativity. Seeking evidence to re-enforce it as we grow. Our unconscious mind will try to keep us safe, even if the triggering event would now seem laughable.
Social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, a professor at Florida State University, co-wrote an article, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” which appeared in The Review of General Psychology. In it he said,
“Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones”. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.”
Everyone recalls negative memories more strongly than positive ones. From an evolutionary point of view, being attuned to the bad things around you were more likely to survive danger. That would mean you’d have increased the probability of passing along your genes. As the article states, “Survival requires urgent attention to possible bad outcomes but less urgent with regard to good ones.”
This is why bad experiences can have a greater effect than good ones.
As the article concludes, “Even though a bad event may have a stronger impact than a comparable good event, many lives can be happy by virtue of having far more good than bad events”.
This is probably quite obvious but what happens if your brain becomes too protective, creating the behaviors and limiting beliefs that we carry into adulthood?
At my Northwood therapy practice, I help clients to focus their minds positively so they can break away from negative habits.
Even though bad events have a stronger impact on us, most people manage to live happy, fulfilling lives without feeling the need to hide themselves from constant danger.
But beware! It is estimated that, on average, it takes around 5 good events to overcome one negative one.
Fortunately, developing life strategies that circumvent negative situations is relatively easy. This simplest of which is to set realistic goals in life and to do something each day to move you toward that finish line. Positive people naturally do this, living each day with purpose and meaning. Living with a sense of purpose generates greater physical health benefits, also – a harmonious synergy between mind and body. Thinking positively has been shown to allay stress, improve immunity and reduce cardiovascular problems.
Most of us will naturally adapt to fit our circumstances. It’s what we were born to do, after all. Being unable to do so is usually a sign of a deeper, underlying concern. Behavioral maladjustment with regards to coping could be a sign that someone needs the benefit of emotional or psychological support. If there is no support from their familial or peer network, it is always a good idea to talk to a counselor or therapist.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be negative! Nobody should be expected to wander around with a Stepford Wife smile on their face. Some of our greatest art, comedy and music had come from people expressing – ergo, finding use in – negative thoughts and feelings. The point is to try and find a healthy outlet for them.
So it might be an idea to take a moment or two away from the fear of impending danger to try and enjoy some of the nicer things in life. Sometime those imminent dangers may turn out not to be so bad after all.
Adrian Jackson Therapy Northwood HA6 Hillingdon Hypnotherapy London