Do You Have a Negative Emotions Bias?

Not sure if you are feeling the same as myself, but I am losing track of days and weeks!  They are seemingly the same…and running together, actually.  (The movie, Groundhog Day comes to mind lately!)

While we are all in various phases, I still feel like very little has changed, even if we are “free-er” to move about the country.  Not sure if this lifestyle has become a habit or a mindset, but it is difficult at times (at least lately for me ) to focus on what we do “have” versus things we don’t. 

I recently listened to an online conference hosted by Social Thinking.  One of the subjects for the day was self-regulation with an overall explanation of emotions, moods and negative feelings. One of the slides read: “WATCH OUT: humans have a negativity bias”.  

The lecture went on to share:

  • our brain processes negative emotions differently from positive emotions
  • negative emotions consume a lot of our attention
  • negative emotions are more noticeable than positive emotions 
  • we have more ways to describe negative emotions than positive ones. 

There was a slide that also said: 

“People tend to ruminate about negative emotions about five times longer than positive emotions.”  

Full disclosure, I tend to be super positive and always strive to see the best in every situation.  I am exceptionally aware of the thoughts I allow in my head and how they “appear” daily.  

I’ve come to realize, it’s ok to have negative thoughts – it is in our DNA and how we are “wired”, anyway!  Who am I to question the brain and all its workings!  However, how I allow them to “reside” in my brain and dictate my mood is another subject altogether.    

I’m sharing this because I have lately felt a greater burden, a higher stress level and heavier heart around how things are playing out in our cities, towns and schools as we all are getting our heads around back to school and how our “year ahead” may look.   

Honestly, I haven’t been in this “emotional place” before as I am “steady as it goes” and always “the anchor” and “voice of reason” to many I know and love.  But lately, I feel like there’s not an end in sight and I’m a bit off “kilter” with myself…unknown territory!

Maybe some of you have been here and through it, but for some reason, I am being hit by how we are just “existing” in our daily lives.  There are days when it’s difficult to imagine this being our new norm.  I question the truth, the facts and our safety some days.  I think, given the circumstances, this is perfectly normal.  

What I don’t want to be my  “new norm” is the attention I could give to my thoughts:   

Questioning, doubting, doing the back and forth, if this then that, the what if’s, pointing blame, etc.  It could literally take over my brain!  How unhealthy would that be?      

Two final thoughts from the conference I want to leave with you: 

“Negative emotions are not bad emotions.  Don’t avoid them, instead acknowledge and problem solve your way through them.”

(This is me officially acknowledging them and figuring out how to problem solve! ) 

“During times as unusual as a pandemic, it’s OK to allow yourself a good sulk while you reboot your emotional operating system.”   

Hallelujah!  What validation!  It’s OK to sulk!  However, it’s not ok to stay there and allow these thoughts and emotions residency!  I think I have rented out my sulky sulk emotions for a couple of weeks now and it’s time to kindly ask them to check out soon!

If you relate to anything I just shared, I trust that this will help you validate, accept and allow you to move through your emotions and thoughts as they come up and when they hit.  

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