Tell your inner negativity bias that the glass is half full!
Are you guilty of being a Negative Nellie? I think many of us can be. I certainly am.
It can be a struggle to stop being negative. But, for the benefit of your day-to-day (and the day-to-day of the people around you), it is important to try. If you can manage to start seeing the glass as half full and not half empty – it can make a huge difference to how you feel about your life.
This glass half empty or Negative Nellie outlook – demonstrates negativity bias. Negativity bias is pretty much what it sounds like – a tendency to focus on the negative over the positive.
From a caveman perspective, this makes sense – because a pessimistic outlook can keep us safe and away from potential danger for reasons of survival. But, in this relatively safe day and age, it can be problematic and linked to mental health issues.
Being negative can spiral our moods into serious negative emotions (and, the moods of the people around us). When we approach life like Eeyore (from Winne the Pooh) it can impact our relationships, decision-making and general perceptions.
This is not to say that negativity, in general, is bad. As a hangover from our caveman days – we are more likely to pay attention to and learn from negative information. There are also health benefits from having mixed emotions. And although there can be benefits to suppressing negative emotions – researchers have found negative health consequences for people who fail to experience the emotions of negative life events.
So, being purely Positive Polly – is also not the end game.
The aim should be to approach life with an open mind and be able to focus on the positives. Not continuously dwell on the negatives.
So, if you are (also) someone that finds the glass half empty all too often. I wanted to give you a list of the quick & relatively easy tips that can help. Then we can then work on these together!
How to stop being negative – 5 top tips
1. Self-reflection & Self-awareness
That old adage “the first step in solving a problem – is knowing you have a problem” – totally applies here.
You need to be self-aware and understand that you are doing this – if you want to get on top of it.
When people ask you about something – do you first go to the negatives or the positives? (I am TOTALLY guilty of being a Negative Nellie)
2. Catch yourself
So, you know that the glass is mainly half empty? Great.
Now, you need to catch yourself when you are paying too much attention to the negative – so you can get onto point 3.
3. Have a word with yourself
When you catch yourself being negative – take a step back and assess what is really going on.
Is there a whole lot of positives involved that you are choosing to ignore? Have a word with yourself and focus on the positive that is there too (and probably in a much greater abundance than the negative).
Take the opportunity to reframe. No – this isn’t a disaster at work that will delay your project – this is an exciting new opportunity and challenge to rise to!
Is your inner voice telling you there is something wrong with you? Talk to it supportively like you would a good friend. Train that voice to be more kind and gentle.
Have you got a good gratitude practice?
In this world of gratitude journals and affirmations, there are lots of great habits to get into to focus on the positive in your life and savor those positive moments.
If you are less inclined to build these sorts of habits (like myself) – I recommend you just spend a second after you “have a word with yourself” (Step 3) and give yourself a mental high five for the positive you can find in the situation.
Also, when you are feeling down practice gratitude by thinking about 3 things you are grateful for today. This will kick your brain into a more positive frame of mind.
Mindfulness is a great practice to help keep out the persistent negativity.
I am all about mindful breathing and yoga when I need to quiet down those loud negative thoughts.
How to be happier day-to-day
So, now you know how to stop being negative.
Once you are up and running with this more positive practice – you can look forward to more positive vibes in your day (and maybe fewer friends avoiding you).
Remember to approach this process with a gentle and curious mind. The last thing you want to do is send yourself on a negative spiral for being negative all the time!
Hello Polly and goodbye Nellie!
First Published: January 7, 2021