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Negativity Bias. You get TEN compliments and ONE critique/negative comment.

Updated: Apr 16



Negativity Bias. You get TEN compliments and ONE critique/negative comment.


Why does that ONE comment trigger you so much?

With the rise of the keyboard warrior and online bullying, I think this is something that is really important to discuss.


The negativity bias is the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature have a greater effect on one's psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things.

In other words, something very positive will generally have less of an impact on a person's behaviour and cognition than something equally emotional but negative.

Why though?

It is an evolutionary hand-me-down from our cave-dwelling ancestors. Back then, alertness to danger was a matter of life and death. We inherited the genes that predispose us to give special attention to those negative aspects of our environments that could be harmful to us.


HOWEVER, in today’s society, we rarely have to run from tigers.

With regards to our fight, flight, freeze response, our brains don’t know the difference between running from a tiger and running late for an important meeting.

Same stress response.

In today’s society we have so many PERCEIVED threats. We no longer have tigers to run from and yet apparently, even before the pandemic, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.


It makes sense then that our brains are hardwired to hone in on negative comments and situations. It is a survival tactic. We are also such social creatures and have an innate craving for belongingness and acceptance. Therefore, it makes sense that when something bad is said about us, this tends to linger with us for quite a while. We want to be accepted and so obviously, we don’t want people talking negatively about us.


Throughout the ages, people have had to deal with conflict on a regular basis.


In their jobs, families, sports teams, etc., however, with the rise of the online world and subsequently, the rise of the ‘keyboard warriors’, it has become easier than ever to verbally attack someone without any sort of repercussions.


It is scary to think how vulnerable we all are online.


We posts photos of our families and friends and crave the dopamine hit of a like. But when a negative comment surfaces, it is not always that easy to shake off. Bloggers and influencers deal with this on a regular basis and although they shouldn’t have to, it nearly becomes known as the ‘downside’ to their job.

So how do we overcome negativity bias?

By simply becoming more AWARE. We are all SO attached to our thoughts and our subsequent emotions because of those thoughts. If you let your monkey brain go unchecked you will spend most of your life either thinking about what you have to do next, looking forward to that next holiday, reminiscing about the past or constantly replaying that uncomfortable conversation you had 3 years ago with your friends brother… Check up on yourself throughout the day and challenge negative thoughts.

Practicing mindfulness is one good way to become more attuned to your own emotions. Through guided meditations, reflection, and other mindfulness interventions, you can start to observe your feelings and thoughts more objectively.

Realise that no PERSON or EVENT has the power to trigger you.


You choose how you react to situations. So if something REALLY angers you, ask yourself why?


Realise that the anger you are feeling is in you, not in the event, if you want to dwell on that anger that is your choice.


Anger passes fairly quickly, it is only by constantly replaying events in our heads do we maintain that anger throughout the day/week/month/year/life….


The tale of two monks and a woman is a well-known Buddhist parable. The story goes that two monks were traveling together, a senior and a junior. They came to a river with a strong current where a young woman was waiting, unable to cross alone. She asks the monks if they would help her across the river.

Without a word and in spite of the sacred vow he’d taken not to touch women, the older monk picks her up, crosses, and sets her down on the other side.

The younger monk joins them across the river and is shocked that the older monk has broken his vow but doesn’t say anything. An hour passes as they travel on. Then two hours. Then three.

Finally, the now very agitated younger monk can stand it any longer: “Why did you carry that women when we took a vow as monks not to touch women?”

The older monk replies, “I set her down hours ago by the side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?”

The story is a reminder to not dwell on the past in a way that interferes with living in the present moment.







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