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My Meditative Moments

Penetrating Our ‘Negativity Bias’

by meditative - July 5th, 2016.
Filed under: Insights for Mindful Intelligence.

As human beings, we have evolved from being fearful to stay alive as our brains are hard-wired for survival and self-protection. As a result of our evolution to keep out of “harm’s way”, we tend to have a stronger inclination for negative stimuli. Neurologically, our brain is programmed with greater neural activity when it is reacting to negative information- it is also stored quicker in memory & holds a greater enduring quality than its positive counterpart.  We are genetically “primed” to respond to environmental cues with a disproportionate weight on negative vs. positive information- leaving us vulnerable to being frightened and even intimidated by perceived threats- real or projected.

All of us engage in our day-to-day activities with a subtle undercurrent of anxiety- some more than others- to help keep us alert. Regardless of all our positive & neutral experiences throughout the day, we still tend to be drawn like a magnet to anything that may have been negative. Consequently, we tend to overestimate our perceived threats as well as underestimate our opportunities and inherent capacities to effectively respond to them.

Being prone to this ‘negativity bias’ through the ancient circuitry of our brain’s right hemisphere, the amygdala (i.e. ‘fear center’) & the body’s extended nervous system, we are often easily hijacked by our perceived ‘threats’. By bringing mindful awareness and ‘mindsight’ or ‘inner seeing’ to how our brain reacts with urgency to our feeling threatened is the first step to regulating this relatively reflexive process. ‘Mindsight’ can help us to see & discern what may or may not be a “false alarm”- what may or may not be productive emotions- and ultimately help us to respond more appropriately in the light of a ‘knowing’ awareness.

To be more aware of how are brain connects & relates to the outer world gives us insight into more skillfully regulating our inner perceptions and consequently our outgoing responses. The open awareness & free attention of our ‘mindsight’ enables us to be less vulnerable to this ‘negativity bias’. It empowers our inherent capacities to interpret events & experiences from a more balanced perspective- to help neutralize negative perceptions (& emotions) and to overcome our hard-wired ‘bias’. With disciplined mindful awareness, we can all learn to use intention and attention to change the architecture of our brains in very adaptive ways.

1 Response to Penetrating Our ‘Negativity Bias’

  1. […] we respond disproportionately to negativity, it takes 3x more positivity than negativity to fully replace anxiety with feelings of […]

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