About Negativity Bias

Maybe you’ve heard the term negativity bias before. If not, it’s a psychological phenomena which asserts that negative events have a greater impact (in some research, even three times greater impact) on our brains than positive ones.

This negativity bias can have a powerful effect on our behavior, decisions, and even our relationships.

When someone says something which doesn’t line up or fit with our ego identity, we aren’t able to hear it.

For example, if I have a negative self-concept and someone shares with me that I’ve made a huge contribution to their life or had a tremendous impact on them, I am less inclined to allow the compliment to land.

Instead of taking in the compliment, I am attached to my fixed identity that I’m not “good enough.” I may even try to convince myself that they are mistaken. This fixed identity, or as they say in Buddhism, our “ego clinging,” is the source of much of our suffering.

Ego Clinging

We spend inordinate amounts of time trying to rearrange reality to conform to our view of things. We filter all of our experiences though this fixed identity so that we can continually try to maintain it.

Part of the purpose of a spiritual path is to unmask and remove the armour of our fixed identity.

One powerful practice is meditation, which helps us build the muscle of pausing in the midst of our conditioned behaviors.

As we build the facility to pause and begin to notice the behaviors as they are happening, we have a fighting chance of transcending the behavior in the moment.

Quieting Our Inner Dialogue

Being able to quiet your internal dialog is the first step to becoming consciously aware of the thoughts that pervade your mind over and over again. It’s only when we are aware of those thoughts that we have any shot at changing them.

While there’s more to a spiritual practice than meditation, it does provide us the opportunity to explore our thoughts and mental state.

If you are new to meditation, or you’d like to refresh your meditation practice, consider taking my Beginner’s Meditation Course at Satsang House Meditation & Spiritual Center in San Diego. It’s offered weekly and is donation-based. For a full list of meditation courses & events, click here.

Time to Practice

Over time you will become more adept at noticing what your internal dialog is telling you. Good or bad, it’s the awareness which allows you to alter the internal conversation.

I’d like you to practice noticing when your mind favors the negative perspective as opposed to allowing you to accept the positive possibility. Even if you notice after the fact, not to worry. Remember, all we are doing here is creating practices of awareness so that we can become more present to our behaviors in the moment over time.

For more practices and support, consider visiting me for a private spiritual life coaching session at Satsang House Meditation & Spiritual Center, or if you’re not sure where to start, schedule a phone chat to help you choose the path that best suits your needs.

Remember, this is not about seeking perfection. Commend yourself for being on the path. Allow yourself some breathing room, and be compassionate with yourself as you practice.