Why is it so easy for us to instantly think negative thoughts? We get called into the boss’s office and immediately think we are in trouble. Or our elderly parent calls us at 9:00p.m. and we instantly think something is terribly wrong. This is because our brain has a habit of going negative. It is called negativity bias–your brain is biased to think negatively. When this happens, stress hormones activate and we think something bad will happen.
It’s been said that our brains are like Velcro for the negative and Teflon for the positive. The negative just sticks easier! But your brain can learn and change. You can teach yourself to think in more positive ways. In fact, Scripture tells us to do so. God wired us in such a way that we can take that negative bias and turn it positive.
First, you have to be aware of this habit of the mind. So, when you feel anxious, doubt or fear, notice it and take the next step. Shift to something positive in your mind. The easiest way to do this is to think of something you are grateful for–gratitude is a game changer. Again, this is in line with Scripture to think on good things and count your blessings. If you simply take a few seconds, you can come up with something in the moment for which you are grateful–health, family, job, etc.
Finally, stay with that positive thought for about 15 seconds. Keep it in your mind in order to flip the Teflon to Velcro. Keeping that positive thought in your head allows your brain to lay down a memory and rewire. Your brain is driving on a new neural highway and needs to remember the route.
Practice this daily (renew your mind) and see what happens to your mood and outlook. Stop and notice, shift your attention and then keep the positive in your mind for a few seconds. It is possible to shift from negative bias to a positive mindset with a little practice.
Reversing negative mindsets
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” –Romans 12:2