Note: This is a guest post by Matthew Snider.
We all know someone who is always the first to point out a flaw. They find the bad in a situation, or highlight an obstacle. These people tend to swim in the negative and have a propensity towards bringing others along with them. While no one really appreciates or thrives in this negative zone, these types are fairly common in today’s world.
Psychological studies suggest that people naturally react more strongly to negative experiences than positive ones. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “negativity bias” and dates back to the days of the cavemen. It is an evolutionary psychological concept and is very powerful in determining future behavior. Although negativity has a natural and instinctive way of pervading our thoughts and actions, if it becomes a habit it can really push people away.
Here are a few telltale signs you might be allowing negativity to dominate your mindset:
You Make Generalizations
One tendency of a Negative Nancy is to make broad generalizations in the negative. For example, if a letter you recently sent gets lost in the mail, you automatically assume the entire postal system is flawed. In another example, your assistant fails to copy you on an important email. Your response is to assume that all administrative assistants are incompetent. These mass generalizations can be very dangerous and even damaging to your psyche. If you find yourself starting to think in generalizations, take a moment to reflect on all of the scenarios in which these generalizations have been proven false. This will help you keep things in perspective and avoid some of those crazed thoughts.
You Assume Obstacles Are Long-Term
Assuming all obstacles are long-term setbacks is another sign you live in the negative. This chronic attitude tricks your brain into believing there are no alternative solutions to a problem and really hinders your ability to problem solve. For example, you present your budget for a new project and when the financing is not approved you automatically assume your idea is a lost cause. This hopeless thinking can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so be very aware of these defeating thoughts and begin to think in a solution-oriented way.
You Are Critical of Others
A negativity bias can make you hypersensitive to the faults of others. For example, your child might get four As and a C on his report card. But your mind jumps immediately to the C, which you offer a lengthy critique of, yet fail to comment on the positive marks. Additionally, you may attend the wedding of a close friend and instead of enjoying the evening of love and laughter, find yourself critiquing every part of the party. This attitude can be exhausting and can also push people away. No one wants to be in a situation where people constantly criticize them. Next time you find yourself nit-picking at a person or situation, try to sandwich your criticism in between two positive statements. This trick has a way of softening the blow and of making you think in a different way about your critique. It’s a win-win solution for everyone and will help you reverse some of your negative thoughts.
Your Close Circle Is Highly Negative
Highly negative people tend to flock together. They also tend to ostracize anyone who challenges their comfortable nit-picking habits with a dose of positive attitude. If you find that your work and social conversation is centered around negativity, complaining, and gossip, you are likely under the wrath of negativity bias. Additionally, if you and your posse find yourself bristling with irritation anytime someone tries to put a positive twist on a situation, you are swimming in the Negative Nancy circle.
If you identify with any of these common situations, you are most likely engaging in overly negative behavior. If you’re looking to reverse this trend, try one of these simple tactics. Your body, mind, friends, and family will all appreciate the positive change.
About the Author
Matthew Snider is a writer, a personal development junkie and a regular blogger at Self Development Secrets. Matt, with his one quarter Asian descent, did not start out as a writer, but he says, “the love for a subject is the most important aspect of writing. The readers want to read something written by someone who understands them.”