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  • Writer's pictureJanice dirksen

Are you a catastrophizer?

Ever notice that we humans like to dwell on what “COULD” go wrong instead of what can go right? And how about when the situation does play out, it’s NEVER as bad as the one we created in our minds. And did you know we have on average 65,000 thoughts per day, 95% of which are repetitive thoughts and 80% are NEGATIVE? So why are we so hardwired to catastrophize? And how is this negativity effecting our life in a harmful way?

What is the Negativity Bias?

Let’s start with the definition of negativity. Negativity is having the inclination to be down, skeptical and pessimistic. When we are being negative, we gravitate towards the worst-case scenario, even seeing the negative where it doesn’t exist.

The negativity bias is our innate tendency to not just notice, but to dwell on the negative events, thoughts, emotions or traumas that happen in our lives. This means that we are hardwired to dwell on the negative that happens in our lives, or even the perceived negative and we feel this as trauma in our mind, body and spirit more powerfully than joy.

We tend to:

  • Remember traumatic experiences better than positive ones.

  • Recall insults better than praise.

  • React more strongly to negative stimuli.

  • Think about negative things more frequently than positive ones.

  • Respond more strongly to negative events than to equally or greater positive ones.

After stewing over and reliving the events in our minds, we recreate a much larger tale filled with more negative emotions and even exaggerating to emphases to all who will listen that we were the victim. And yes there are times that we are truly the victim of a crime, accident, natural disaster, war etc. and unfortunately our negativity bias can make it harder to address and recover from these devastating traumas because we are prion to reliving them over and over again. But more often than not, the following is what we perceive as potential negative events:

· A misunderstood look by someone.

· Making an assumption rather than asking questions.

· Reading into a tone in someone’s voice.

· Finding someone’s offhanded comment irritating or hurtful.

· Becoming hurt when our text message or phone call isn’t immediately returned.

· OR even worse, we think of all the SCARY scenarios that could cause that person to be

unable to respond immediately.

So why do we need a negativity bias?

To avoid potential dangers. But unlike our ancestors who lived in harsh environments, we in this modern world don’t need to worry about the same potential threats, like being eaten by a dinosaur or chased by a bear while gathering food at our local grocery store. Instead, we over react when our social media post showing off our newest outfit doesn’t receive any likes. This now becomes the potential threat, not being liked, not fitting in or being different, this is what now threatens our survival.

Examples of Negative Bias

  • Years ago, you humiliated yourself in front of friends and now you can’t stop beating yourself up as you vividly recall the event over and over again.

  • Your work performance review was quite positive overall with a few constructive comments pointing out some areas you could improve. You become obsessed with the areas in need of improvement, even becoming angry and upset rather than giving yourself a pat on the back for all the positive comments.

  • You and your significant other have a fight and now you can’t stop ruminating on all your partner’s flaws even amplifying them, you might even call a friend and have them commiserate with you, all the while avoiding your partner’s positive traits. This allows you to be the victim over and over again.

How do you overcome negative bias

  • Stop Negative Self-Talk

    • Take an inventory of your thoughts, negative self-talk shapes how you think of yourself and others. Try writing down all your negative thoughts over the day. You may be surprised how many are repeated. And in the future when one of these thoughts pops up stop and change it to something more positive. Try thinking of something you are grateful for instead. AND don’t beat yourself up when you slip down the negative rabbit hole, just start again and remind yourself, you are just doing your best.

  • Create New Habits

    • When you catch yourself ruminating on things, stop and gently reroute your negative mindset with an activity that brings you joy.

    • And don’t be hard on yourself a new habit takes time. Eventually you’ll find it easier to redirect your thoughts away from negative to positive.

    • Try taking a walk, listening to your favorite music, listen to a self-help podcast, meditate, read a good book, or watch a feel-good or funny movie. They do say “laughter is the best medicine.”

  • Savor the Positive

    • Give extra attention to the good things that happen in your life. Just before you go to sleep place your hands on your heart and review all the things in your life that you’re grateful for. You may be surprised how easy it is to find things, a delicious coffee at your favorite coffee shop, a smile from a stranger, your child telling you they love you or someone complimenting you. If you can’t find anything to be grateful for, just be grateful you woke up today and made it through another day.

    • When you wake up in the morning your first thoughts should be positive. I like to repeat to myself as I open my eyes, “today is a new day, a fresh new restart”.

    • Check our Mel Robins’ and her High Five Habit (intro video link below)


  • Try Hypnosis

    • Hypnosis works with the subconscious mind, the place where all the positive AND negative self-talk, traumas and limiting beliefs are stored.

    • I create a personalized script for you using your words and the goals you desire to break your old patterns of negative thoughts and self-talk and transform them into new habits and new positive beliefs.

    • Client Testimonial – Weight Management Client

I had never been under hypnosis and was somewhat skeptical that it would work for my self- acceptance and weight loss goals. Right from the very first session, I was more accepting of myself and no longer critical and I am able to focus on my end goal. This continued on through my sessions and still today. Janice was very calming and reassuring. I loved how she incorporated my goals and experiences into the sessions. You won't be disappointed!

So, the next time someone says to you “why do you have to be so negative, so doom and gloom?”, instead of defending yourself by snarling back ”I’m not negative, I’m a realist”, just shrug your shoulders and calmly respond with “well I’m hardwired to be negative, it’s just my way of surviving and I’m working on making positive changes”.

If you have any questions on how hypnosis can help you become change negative thought patterns to positive contact me for a FREE ½ Zoom Consultation.

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