The negativity bias is a well documented phenomena that influences our lives and our choices a lot more than we can even begin to realise. It has fundamentally altered the modern world, allowed many evil but powerful men to take charge, and has caused endless people endless suffering.
Understanding this phenomena is not the cure to depression or anxiety, but knowing what it is, how it can influence our lives, and how it can possibly be avoided in the future, is an important step to take in order to free our minds.
What Is The Negativity Bias?
Thirty thousand years ago, an ancient human leaving the cave he slept in for the night might see something large and brown hidden among the trees that he couldn’t immediately recognise. There are two possibilities: it’s either just a large boulder, or perhaps a large predator. His brain, unconsciously, has already decided that it’s more likely to be a predator, and has put the caveman into an alerted state, which might mean switching on the adrenaline and preparing for a fight. It doesn’t matter if the brown thing is a predator or not, what matters is that the brain is preparing the body for this eventually, ensuring the man’s survival.
Today, this kind of instinct just doesn’t have a place. We no longer have to grapple with predators, but the negativity bias has remained, and it’s a big part of the reason so many of us are obsessed with our mistakes in the past, and why we fear the future so much.
Further Negative Influences
As mentioned earlier, this is a bias that has been known about for a long time, and there are many industries that have used it to earn a revenue. The news and media industries, for example, know that printing bad news is a lot more likely to garner clicks or views than a positive piece, simply because we are already primed to seek out the negative news as a way of protecting ourselves, even if the news doesn’t affect us directly. It’s already easy to see how learning about terrible news across the ocean might affect our mental state and worsen depression and anxiety.
How To Avoid It
We all get very easily overwhelmed with the amount of bad news that seems to proliferate every day, but there are some steps we can take to try and stay positive. The first is to take a break from the news entirely – even if it’s for a week at a time. Giving our brains a break from the barrage of negativity can be powerfully cathartic, either by going for a run or enjoying playing at gaming sites in Canada instead.
It’s also a good idea to always try and keep in mind that the world is a big place, with a lot of people. And while there’s undoubtedly a lot of bad that takes place every day, there is also a lot of good, and millions of people across the globe are always trying their best to make things better for themselves and the others that they share their environment with.