Why Are We So Negative: It’s an Ancestral Gene Thing
Have you ever asked yourself why we’re so negative? Would you believe me if I said that it’s an ancestral gene thing?
Trust me, you want to stay with me until the end of this post. If you tend to gravitate to negative thinking, it’ll make a whole lot of sense to you after you read all of the ways through to the end.
Working with people, women, in particular, I get a lot of questions regarding why it is that we can receive 99 compliments, but focus mostly on the one negative thing someone says about our appearance, work, speeches, writing, etc.
Is it lack of self-confidence or low-esteem?
It could be.
But there’s a much better reason, an ancestral gene one, as to why we gravitate to negativity. Researchers refer to it as “Negativity Bias.”
WHAT IS NEGATIVITY BIAS?
What is negativity bias, and where does it comes from?
It’s an evolutionary tendency. A simple matter of DNA.
Negativity bias has been in our genes since the days of the hunters and the gatherers where it was a matter of killing the prey or being killed. In an effort to survive, our ancestors were in a continuous heightened state of alertness, always expecting the worse outcome because it allowed them to be better prepared to stay alive.
That state of heightened alertness has evolved into our current day negative thinking processes or negativity bias; hence, why we’re so prone to being negative.
In short, we gravitate to negativity because it’s our nature. It’s a defense mechanism wired into our brains to help us survive.
TO CONTINUE OR NOT CONTINUE BEING SO NEGATIVE? THAT IS THE QUESTION.
Big, huge, and some not so huge, man-eating dinosaurs made it necessary for our ancestors to wire their brains to 24/7 survival mode.
But man-eating dinosaurs are now extinct (or at least we hope they are), and our negativity bias is causing major dysfunctions in the way we view and interact with ourselves and others, and in the way we respond to certain stimuli.
For example, the one negative comment among the hundred positive ones that we can’t stop fixating on, and our reaction to our partners not being able to call us when they said they would because their cell phones died, needed charging, and they forgot to pack their chargers.
We want to be happy. We want to get it right, so should we continue gravitating to negativity?
Hell, to the no!
We rebel against the elders and override the ancestral negativity bias programming.
OVERRIDING THE WHY ARE WE SO NEGATIVE/NEGATIVITY BIAS PROGRAMMING
Negativity bias has the potential to affect all aspects of our lives. It can and does have a negative impact on our self-esteem, our self-worth, our ability to set and accomplish goals, and our intimate partner relationships.
Negativity programming begets more negativity programming begets more negativity programming. What I mean by that is that a lot of us feel bad about ourselves and are twice as prone to gravitate to negativity bias because the people who raised us, our siblings, classmates, etc., added fuel to the fire, reinforcing the ancestral effect, and making matters worse.
This gives us yet another important reason for why we should override the programming.
LET THE OVERRIDING BEGIN
The key to overriding the negativity bias is to change the way you think. This can be accomplished by eliminating negative self-talk and replacing it with positive self-talk.
It has to be done with frequency and consistency. Staying committed and dedicated to your overall well-being is the only way that you’ll override the negative schemas that are imprinted in your brain that keep you gravitating to negativity, and stuck.
It’s doable. I know. I’ve done it and do it every time my inner critic tries to rear her head.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
—You can begin with positive affirmations. Look at yourself in the mirror every morning, and tell yourself how beautiful, intelligent, lovable, and worthy you are.
—Leave post-it notes around your room reminding yourself of what an amazingly beautiful person you are, inside and out.
—Name your inner critic so when you start hearing the negative self-talk, you can say, “Shut up, Maxine. You’re a liar and I’m not listening to you anymore. I’m beautiful no matter what you or others say.” Naming your inner critic detaches you from the negative self-talk, making it the problem, and not you. Not seeing yourself as the problem will make it easier to tackle.
—You can use the rubber band method. Snap it against your wrist whenever you have a negative thought about yourself or others.
—Practice mindfulness. It helps to decrease psychological and emotional distress, which enhances your overall mental health and reduces negative cognitions.
—Start regarding yourself. Don’t allow you to treat you any differently than you’d treat what you love most in life.
—Take what other people say with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, the only opinion that’s going to matter is your own. So, always be kind to yourself.
These are just a few of the things you can do to override the negative patterns of thinking.
More tips to come.
I see you stayed until the end of the post!
You see, I told you it’d be worth it.
Until my next blog, which per a reader’s comment, will be on narcissists and their inability to let go of ex partners.
Much love and peace,