Where Does Negative Thinking Really Come From?

Hear it Here - bit.ly/3FooG0d

00:05:13 Your Negativity May Be “Hardwired”

00:07:38 But that Doesn’t Mean It’s Written in Stone

00:10:53 Authors, researchers, and neuroscientists Kahneman and Tversky

00:13:15 Countering the Bias for the Negative

• We can understand the problem of negativity on different levels, from the physical to the psychological to the spiritual, evolutionary, or cultural. The psychological and emotional level is the easiest for us to change.

• The negativity bias is an evolved human tendency that conferred a survival advantage on our ancestors. It’s the tendency to register and focus more readily on negative stimuli while ignoring or downplaying positive ones. If we are aware of it, we can take steps to mitigate its influence in personal relationships and decision-making.

• If you cannot rely on your brain to automatically and unconsciously look for the positive, then you will have to deliberately draw your attention to it instead. Use a gratitude journal and deliberately choose to focus on the positive.

#CognitiveBias #CognitiveDistortion #CounteractNegativity #GratitudeJournal #Kahneman #Negativity #NegativityBias #StopNegativeThinking #ToxicRelationships #Tversky #WhereDoesNegativeThinkingReallyComeFrom? #RussellNewton #NewtonMG #StopNegativeThinking



I'm Russell and this is the science of self brought to you by Newton Media Group and Peter Hollins stick around to learn to improve your life from the inside out today is March 23rd and we're back on schedule after a few weeks of kind of wandering deadlines thanks for checking us out today Author Peter Hollins wants us to stop negative thinking so much that he wrote a book with the same title negative thinking is a natural tendency for humans but in order to control it sometimes we need to learn to deliberately identify those negative thoughts and make conscious efforts to get rid of them let's learn how from Peter Hollins in his book stop negative thinking The more you work at identifying and rewriting your negative thought patterns, the better you’ll come to understand this part of yourself—and realize how deep those roots really run. Why are some people so prone to negative thinking, pessimism, and a defeated attitude? Why do some of us dwell on anxieties and get embroiled in self-doubt, while others don’t? Why do some people struggle with depression and low mood all their lives, while others seem to be functioning from a seemingly inexhaustible well of optimism? These are big questions, and psychology has been trying to answer them for a long time.


In this book, we’ve focused on possible answers at the psychological level. We’ve explored how a critical and distorted inner dialogue encourages us to frame events according to a particular mental filter. And we’ve seen how thoughts and core beliefs influence the perspective we use to interpret everything around us. But then the question is, where did these thoughts come from? And what distorted those filters in the first place?


There are different levels at which we can think about the problem: Physical – it’s about hormones, genes, neurotransmitters, the food you eat, and the exercise you get (or don’t) Emotional – your unique feelings and responses to events that color and shape everything Cognitive – the way you understand, explain, and conceptualize the world and yourself Psychological – how your emotional and cognitive processing comes together into internal schemas and narratives Social – the way your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors interact relationally with those around you, particularly your immediate family and early caregivers Evolutionary – the fitness adaptations you’ve inherited from your ancestors Cultural – the broader social and environmental significance of your life Spiritual – the broader meaning of your life in relation to the divine or transcendental Historical – your life as a developmental, and in the context of broader time scales relations Political – the way your life interacts with the economy, the law, and the overarching power dynamics you live within At every level, we can be influenced either toward a way of living that is predominantly pessimistic and negative, or one that supports our own conscious choice and agency. Though this book has focused mainly on the cognitive, emotional, and psychological dimensions, it doesn’t take long to see that this is not the full story—if you were an impoverished peasant living in medieval times and suffered from malnutrition and disease all your life, it’s hard to imagine how any of the techniques in this book could make a dent! To return to the question of what causes a person’s negative disposition—well, everything! But the reason we’ve focused on the psychological/cognitive/emotional aspect is because, frankly, this is the area of life where we have the most control. In this final chapter, we’ll look at two more sources of negativity and make an attempt to mitigate their impact on our daily life.


The first is what’s called “negativity bias,” and the second is the power of relationships to create or counteract negativity in our lives (specifically, how toxic relationships can create and sustain negativity). This expands our examination of negative thinking to include some evolutionary and social causes, respectively. Your Negativity May Be “Hardwired” Simply, the negativity bias is the human tendency to register and focus more readily on negative stimuli while ignoring or downplaying positive ones. It means that we tend to remember negative experiences more vividly than happier ones, dwell on insults more than we do on praise, perceive loss as more painful than we perceive gain as pleasurable, and give more mental airtime to negative thoughts than to positive ones. In other words, we have a bias for the negative.


Research has uncovered all sorts of ways this bias pops up: •We tend to assume that very negative news must be more true or real •We tend to be more motivated to avoid a loss than to win a gain •We even tend to make decisions based more on negative information and learn more effectively after negative experiences instead of positive ones Think about finding a fly in your soup—everything else about your evening out at a fancy restaurant may be perfect, but that single tiny fly is likely to receive the bulk of your attention! On an otherwise great date, your brain focuses on that one embarrassing thing you said, or the spinach stuck in the other person’s teeth. On a report card, you gloss over all the praise and dwell on the single criticism you received (remember the “discounting” cognitive bias?). It turns out that this is not just a psychological phenomenon or a question of a bad attitude. It’s not about personality.


Rather, the human predisposition to zoom in on what’s wrong has evolutionary roots. Those of our ancestors who focused more heavily on the negative had a survival advantage on those who didn’t. If a person is hypersensitive to potential threats in the environment, they may have a lot of false positives, but when something genuinely is a case of life and death, they’re likely to survive. Those who ignored or downplayed that threat, however, would likely not. ... But that Doesn’t Mean It’s Written in Stone The Negative Nancys of the world, in other words, lived to pass on those genes that would bias their offspring to focusing on the negative more than the positive. This tendency is so hardwired that neuroscientists have found heightened activity in response to negative stimuli compared to positive ones—this is true even for very young infants. But, while our bias for the negative may have evolutionary roots, that doesn’t mean that we are pre-destined to have this orientation for all time. With awareness and conscious effort, we can mitigate, pre-empt, or challenge our knee-jerk biases and make sure that this primal part of ourselves doesn’t get the last word. The negativity bias served our ancestors well and did indeed keep us safe and alert to threats in our environment.


In fact, it still serves this function today. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t engage with it, double-check it, and factor in our own higher, conscious choice on the matter, too. The great thing about understanding the negativity bias is that you know that you are always primed to look at the worst in a scenario—so you can do something about it. It’s not unlike the way your leg will reflexively bounce up when a doctor taps your knee in just the right place. Imagine an ordinary person in an ordinary relationship whose partner does something wrong and hurts them.


Instantly, they’re put on the defensive as this insult expands in their awareness to take up all their attention. This single negative action soon starts to be all that they can see—the countless positive things their partner has done for years on end seem to vanish, eclipsed by the single negative one. This focus on the negative is a cognitive distortion. The person ends up saying things like, “You always do this,” and, “You don’t care about me,” (hello, generalization and mind-reading bias!). This is exactly the same as saying that no part of the entire fancy restaurant experience was good simply because there was a fly in the soup.


Resentment builds, miscommunications abound, and the relationship ends. However, had this person understood the negativity bias and observed that their own thought processes were being heavily influenced by this tendency, things might have played out differently. They might have been able to say, “I’m really angry right now, and all I can see is the negative. What happened is bad, but I can also see that I’m fixating on it and that there are lots of good things in my relationship ... Consider how different conversations would be if the person held this attitude rather than unconsciously expecting and indeed seeking out the very worst in their partner. But it’s not just relationships where this bias plays out. Famed authors, researchers, and neuroscientists Kahneman and Tversky, in their Nobel Prize–winning work, explored the fact that people tend to place greater weight on the negative than the positive when making decisions. Their research helped them conclude that people seem to fear loss more than they desire gain—for example, people have a greater reaction to losing twenty dollars than to gaining twenty dollars. means that people often tend to prefer the status quo, even a negative status quo, simply because changing is perceived to incur too many potential losses—and the perceived gains are not enough to offset it. Negativity bias can influence our relationships, but it can also affect the way we process risk and reward.


As an example, we may be trying to make a decision between staying where we are or moving houses, or else keeping our job or accepting a new one. The thing is, we are not weighing up the options we have in a balanced, neutral way. Rather, we are placing more weight and emphasis on potential loss than we are on potential gain—and consequently we may stay in a suboptimal situation and miss out on good opportunities. Here’s an example. We might see that a new job pays twice as much and is way more fun but requires a month of intense training first, which we may potentially fail.


We might also see that the current job doesn’t pay much and is a bit boring but doesn’t require any additional effort or take any risk. Objectively speaking, the new job is probably the better choice. But if we succumb to the negativity bias, we may overinflate the potential loss (“that month of training is just too risky!”) and downplay the potential gain (a lot more money and more fun to be had), giving us a distorted picture of our options. If we consciously recognize that the negativity bias is there, though, we can factor it in and make sure we’re not unduly focusing on the negatives. Countering the Bias for the Negative The good news is that you have already encountered (and hopefully tried) several powerful techniques for counteracting the human tendency to focus on the negative.


Negative visualization and a gratitude journal especially can help you recalibrate so you are more aware of the good around you, not just the bad. The solution is obvious—if you cannot rely on your brain to automatically and unconsciously look for the positive, then you will have to deliberately draw your attention to it instead. And it is there! Pause to savor positive moments and register them fully. There is no evolutionary advantage to smelling the roses—but your life will be immeasurably improved if you can.


Stay in the moment and relish all the lovely things that are actually happening all around you. If something positive is going on, literally imagine turning your mental antenna in its direction and paying it close attention. “This is positive. I’m enjoying this." Your mind will not do this for you—be deliberate instead and choose to see the good in things.


Mindfulness, presence, positivity, and gratitude all tend to go together. When we are conscious and awake to the moment—the full moment—we start to realize how fascinating and how lovely it is. And then we cannot help but feel grateful and content. Some people claim that “happiness is a choice” and say that the secret to happiness is simply deciding that you want to be happy. This may not be true in the sense that we can change our mental state at will.


But it is true in the sense that we can decide what we focus on, and we can decide not to have a bias that shuts out life’s many blessings from our conscious awareness. We definitely have the choice not to go out of our way to interpret the world more negatively than it really is! Happiness, then, is merely the choice to remove all those self-imposed filters and biases that keep us from enjoying what is already there. you've reached the end of another episode of the science of self connect with us at newtonmg.com or connect with the author Peter Hollins at bitly slash Peter Hollins don't forget to sign up for his free newsletter at that website thanks for joining us today see you next Thursday

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