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Do you speak to yourself like a cherished friend or a high school bully?

Young Asian woman being bullied

If we said to others the things we say to ourselves, we probably wouldn’t make it through the day without getting punched – so why do we let ourselves get away with it?  Because of negativity bias.

Negativity bias is a cognitive bias that results in ‘negative’ events having a more significant impact on our psychological state than positive ones.

Negativity bias happens even when negative events and positive ones are of the same magnitude – we feel negative events more intensely.

What does that mean? 

It means we let negative crap get all up in our head and make a nest while the good stuff is barely a blip on the radar.  It’s not your fault – we all do it to a more or lesser degree.

How does the negativity bias affect you?

Well, it’s not just our tendency to register negative stuff more but also our tendency to dwell on these negative events.  We feel the sting of negative situations more powerfully than we feel the joy of a positive one.

We then take that and create a whole lot of self-talk.  Why did I do that?  How could I have said that?  I’m so stupid… as you can imagine, the list is long.

Now we all know that just because you think a thought, it doesn’t make it fact.  So much of what we tell ourselves is fundamentally wrong and we know it. 

So how can we stop it?

Take on the bully

Check in on yourself throughout the day, notice the thoughts running through your mind, both the helpful and unhelpful.  Argue back with the bully – challenge the thinking.  What proof do you have of the negative thoughts – is it actually true or are you beating yourself up more than necessary?

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness helps you become more attuned to your emotions. There are many ways to practice mindfulness including breathing exercises, meditation, a mindful walk, journaling or even gratitude practices – find one that works for you and run with it.

Make an extra effort to notice and appreciate the positive moments

If you take the time to really be present in a positive moment you help create a lasting memory of it for the future.  Building up a bank of positive memories and feelings can help balance things out.

Next time something positive happens, you’ve done something well or received a compliment, make the extra effort to just be in that moment.  Think about how good you feel, the happy thoughts and pleasant emotions, write about it in a journal or make a note of it in a gratitude jar.

Let the cherished friend have a say too

The bully will rear its head, there is no denying that – but don’t forget to invite the cherished friend to have a say from time to time.  Stop and tell yourself when you’ve done something good, when you feel good, when you make that extra effort, take on a challenge or start a healthy habit.

What the cherished friend has to say is not soft, it’s valuable.  It’s valuable to you in that moment and in future moments when you need to draw on the positives.

How you treat yourself sets the tone for how you let others treat you.  Be kind to yourself.

And if you’re looking to start a gratitude practice, check out our gorgeous new gratitude kits. 

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