How I Might Overcome My Brain’s Fixation on an 'Unhelpful' Thing

Updated: Jan 11

"A human mind is prone to overreact to a negative thing relative to a positive thing - a person might use this to manipulate me, or I might use this to manipulate another person. As I become more aware of this I might better prevent some of the negative effect and improve the quality of my social life."

"There are some surprising things to me—like the idea that I get little credit for doing more than I promised to do - for going beyond and doing extra - and I get penalized more severely for what I don’t do."

"Negative feedback stimulates learning faster than positive feedback - was the biggest surprise to me. Say I give a child a jar, and, in one condition, every time they got a right answer, they’d get a marble to put in a jar that they could keep. In the other condition, the jar was full of marbles, and every time they got one wrong, they’d lose a marble. It’s the same contingency, one marble per answer. The kid learned faster when they were losing marbles than gaining marbles."

"Given that bad appears stronger than good, the priority might be “Do not do unto another what I do not want done unto me.” It’s about focusing on eliminating the negative rather than cultivating the positive. Both are good, however eliminating the negative is better to get priority."

"It appears a person would rather get the bad news out of the way. Once a person gets the bad news, they appear to respond so strongly to criticism that the brain basically forgets the good news in the first part - a person will walk out of the evaluation focusing on that criticism, with all the good stuff forgotten. It’s better to give the bad news early; then the good news can sink in after that. A person might benefit from hearing an area for improvement to know what the challenge might be, and then I am able to tell them what they’re good at, and let them know how they might build on that."

"It appears my brain evolved to overreact to a negative thing, and to compensate for that, it’s likely helpful to take a moment to stop and consider the positive side a bit more deeply - maybe dwell on it a bit more. I am not required to be as extreme as a Pollyanna character. In general, the indicators of human physical well-being are all moving up - my physical life is getting better and is really beneficial in many ways, despite the constant predictions of doom I see in media. To be accurate in how I see my world, it’s probably helpful for me to put a bit of a correction on my negativity bias, by dwelling with and savouring a thing I am grateful for."

#bldUnhelpful #bldChange

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