Breaking Out of Negative Thinking

In the Inc, Nate Klemp has an interesting article about The Neuroscience of Breaking Out of Negative Thinking where he writes that our brain is wired to focus on the negative thinking but it can be rewired to build positive thinking. Neuroscientists call this automatic habit of the brain: “negativity bias.”

There is ample empirical evidence for an asymmetry in the way that adults use positive versus negative information to make sense of their world; specifically, across an array of psychological situations and tasks, adults display a negativity bias, or the propensity to attend to, learn from, and use negative information far more than positive information.

Amrisha Vaish, Tobias Grossmann, Amanda Woodward in Phsychol bull.


Nate Kemp writes: “By taking a moment each day to bring our attention to this practice, we build the habit of shifting out of negativity bias to more useful mind states: remembering our past wins, celebrating our strengths, and seeing life as a series of opportunities rather than a relentless slog through setbacks and heartbreak.”

Nate recommends the following three practices to help Notice-Shift-Rewire in our everyday life.

  • Notice your negativity bias. The first step to identify and bring awareness to our habit when we slip into self-doubt, rumination, anxiety, and fear.
  • Shift to a moment of gratitude. After the identification step, try to shift focus at the very moment to more productive goals. For example, writing gratitude journal – like what we are grateful for – home, job, health, family, strengths etc.
  • Rewire your brain. In this step we attempt to transform our habit from looking negatively to thinking more positively. “It’s where we shift the brain’s response to all the good in life from Teflon to Velcro. We’re flipping our evolved wiring on its head — taking just a few seconds to build stronger memories around all the good things happening in life.”

The authors says that when start doing this everything start changing. We remember your purpose, look forward to new challenges, and face life with renewed optimism.