Understanding Negativity Bias to Nurture More Hope in Your Life

Hope is not something we are born with.   We are actually born with negativity bias.  Negativity bias has us focusing on the bad  for our own survival.   This means hope takes work.  For youth it takes recognition of 3 positive events or moments to combat something negative that has been encountered.  In adults it takes 5 positive events or moments to combat something negative.

Learn more about negativity bias and how you can beat it.

Negativity bias is a way our brain alerts us to danger.   It is a genetic predisposition from our cave-dwelling ancestors.  Being able to react quickly to bad situations and remembering how we react was a matter of survival.    We don’t need to defend against positive things so they don’t require quick action or focus from the brain.

Train the brain through:

  • Mindfulness – challenging yourself to notice what is important and what is not. 
  • Pattern Recognition- see when negative patterns  get activitated and do something to break the pattern.   Stop to read or write, go for a run, listen to music, clean something…
  • Put a stop to negative dialogue – replace the negative self-talk with what you learned from your failure or how you will improve in future opportunities.
  • Be your own friend – ask yourself as an internal reflection if you are okay? Why are you angry? Why are you hurt? work through your reaction.
  • Gratitude  – take a moment to be grateful.  Focus on three things that were positive that you got to experience within the last few days.  Take thirty 30 seconds to think about them and revel in the positivity.  Try a Gratitude app or just get a notebook and record your thoughts if that helps more.
  • Take a mental picture – when something goes well take a moment and imagine yourself taking a picture.  Focus on the scene.  Pull that “photo” back up when you have a negative moment.
  • Meditate – choose a guided meditation if you are just starting out.

Success of self-reflection depends on how you choose to focus.  Focusing on how things have not worked out will not help you.   Worry and regret lead to a hopeless cycle.   Focusing on what you learned from your failure and reflecting on the positive events in your life will.  Focus on gratitude and appreciation –  once you put your mind in a more positive state you will naturally being to feel more hopeful and optimistic.

Some questions to ask yourself:

What was good about today?

What is there to be truly thankful for about today?

How have I grown as a person today?

What circumstances make me feel hopeful about the future?

You will naturally begin feeling more hopeful when you feel more confident in yourself and in your ability to overcome the problems and challenges you face.

One of the best ways to grow your self-confidence is to take out a sheet of paper and begin listing three key things:

  • Your past successes.
  • Your strengths, skills, and abilities.
  • The resources you have on hand.

Your past successes will prove to you that you have already overcome incredible odds to get to where you are today. Your strengths, skills, and abilities will remind you that you are more capable than you give yourself credit for. And your list of resources will show you that no matter what, you have options and tools that you can utilize to help you overcome your problems.

Everyone experiences fear, stress, anxiety, frustration, overwhelm and a plethora of other debilitating emotions at times. These emotions are a natural part of life. In fact, it could be said that these emotions are invaluable in that they help provide us valuable insights into our state-of-mind and into the situation we face 

When these emotions are mismanaged, the consequences that result can make us feel incredibly hopeless and helpless when facing adversity. However, when we take the time to develop our coping skills — to better handle and understand these emotions — this naturally provides us with the self-confidence we need to tackle our life’s problems head-on in a positive and empowering way.

In the end, how we manage our emotional experiences has a lot to do with how we perceive the situation we find ourselves in. Interpret things one way and you will feel hopeless and overwhelmed. Choose to interpret things another way, and all of a sudden you feel empowered and upbeat. It all depends on how you reframe your situation.

A hopeful person…

  • Is happy and grateful for the life they have, however, they are by no means content and therefore are always looking to make improvements.
  • Is a big dreamer who consistently imagines a better world than the one they currently live in. However, they are never really satisfied with just dreaming. They instead turn their dreams into concrete goals built upon their personal values.
  • Has an intense desire for change. In other words, they don’t accept things as they are.They instead want to always make things better; want to always upgrade their life and circumstances. As such, they seek out to make positive life changes wherever possible.
  • Approaches everything with a sense of curiosity. They are curious about life and about the world around them. Given this, they are constantly in the act of exploring and experimenting in an effort to make things better.
  • Accepts that life brings no guarantees no matter how hopeful they are. However, they will always do their best to make the most of every situation.
  • Accepts that every experience has some form of value and benefit for them. In other words, no matter what happens they remain hopeful that in the end things will turn out in their favor.
  • Always maintains a positive outlook on life no matter how grim or dire the situation. This is of course only possible because they are highly attuned to their negative thoughts. The moment negative thoughts take over, they immediately switch gears and reframe their experience.
  • Tends to live in the present moment. Yes, they do spend time visualizing a better future for themselves, however, they clearly understand that only by making the most of the present will they ever stand a chance of bringing that future into reality.
  • Consistently takes proactive action in the direction of their goals and objectives. In other words, they don’t just hope that things will be better. They work hard to ensure that things get better.
  • Regularly builds on their past successes and achievements. In others words, they learn from what they have already accomplished in order to make the most of the current situation they find themselves in.
  • Always focuses on being generous and giving. They clearly understand that by giving to others and by helping people overcome their problems, allows them a greater depth of understanding about their own personal struggles.
  • Consistently seeks out opportunities, help, and support. They understand that only with other people’s help will they have a chance of getting what they want.
  • Lives with gratitude. They are thankful for what they have however, this never prevents them from seeking out more of what they want.
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