Insults, criticism, bad news. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to focus on the negative? We tend to remember traumatic experiences better than positive, joyful ones; we recall insults more readily than praise; we think about negative things more often than positive things; we respond more strongly to negative events than we do to positive ones and we react more strongly to negative stimuli.
Apply this to your personal experience. Even if you were having a wonderful day and everything was just flowing along smoothly, if one thing went wrong – a coworker unintentionally made a remark you felt was critical. If your spouse asked you how your day was, you may be likely to focus on that one negative thing.
This is referred to as “negativity bias.” No matter how positive a person you are, you experience this to some degree. We all do.
I apply this to health and making habit and lifestyle changes. Psychology suggests people seem to be less motivated to complete a task when it is presented as a positive means to gain something. When it is presented as something that will help them avoid the loss of something, motivation is increased. So most people, instead of focusing on what they will gain by continuing to work toward a goal, are more likely to focus on what they may have to give up in order to achieve that goal.
It made me wonder if instead of being able to focus on their goal of more energy, healthier aging, resolution of serious health issues, most people are just automatically defaulting to focusing on having to cut back on sugar, give up some foods they are addicted to and start exercising more as things they are giving up, therefore focusing on the “negative” aspect.
It isn’t rational since those very things may be keeping them sick, but it may be the underlying, subconscious reason.
Do you think negativity bias could be keeping you from following through on your health goals?
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