How recognizing negativity bias improves relationships.
Are you aware you have a negativity bias? It’s not your fault. In fact, everyone has it whether they like it or not. Humans are born with a predisposition to notice and emphasize negativity. Doing so is part of survival. However, your negativity bias can spoil your relationship if you don’t recognize it exists.
What is negativity bias?
Negativity bias means you respond more readily to negativity than positivity. If a dinosaur walked in on your ancestor’s picnic, they needed to react to his presence fast. Instead of packing up lunch, they had to flee. In such a situation, focusing on danger, instead of the food in front of them, was normal and healthy.
Negativity bias enters relationships when people get locked into fight or flight. Having looked at their interactions with their partner and discovered negativity, they become vigilant. They sense danger and create a mission to seek out more problems as soon as they appear. They focus on negative aspects of the relationship and fail to notice positivity.
Negative memories are easier to reach than positive ones. You might need to retrieve them quickly in an emergency to help you decide how to act. As such, relationships are often judged as being hopeless when they have merit. Thus, remembering an argument with your spouse, but forgetting when he or she did something special for you, you may imagine your relationship is bad.
The more you seek negativity, the more you find. You get tunnel vision and look for those times when your partner is inconsiderate. Also, the part of your brain that notices kindness weakens when your negativity bias is strong.
Heal your relationship
Understanding you’ve sought faults and forgotten positivity provides insight. Now, you can move forward with greater awareness about the situation. Ensuring you emphasize happy times and playing down negativity changes your bias. If your leg muscles were weak and you want them stronger, you use them more. The same goes if you want to improve your relationship. You need to strengthen the neural connections in your brain supporting positivity by focusing on what you enjoy, not what you dislike.
Bring mindfulness into your relationship
Being mindful in your relationship means you notice what’s happening and your reaction. If you feel defensive, or find yourself looking for problems, you can back down. Realizing your intention to heal rifts and focus on positivity helps prevent emotional injuries.
Instead of reacting hastily to negativity, mentally step back and witness the event. Observe what’s happening in a detached way. When you pause and watch what’s occurring, your innate wisdom will come into play. You can tap into your higher self and act with love, speaking from your heart rather than a sense of injustice.
Knowing about negativity bias helps you see why your partner seems difficult at times. You can identify others locked in fight or flight, too, and understand them better. Just mentally step back, witness the situation, and observe with your heart. Your compassion will grow, and you’ll remember not to place criticism or rejection in your memory bank to revisit. You can teach your partner what you know so you are understood better as well. Focusing on positivity provides new, happier recollections and helps heal your relationship.