Elsa’s gotta put a ring on it. You didn't know we went that way, right?
She put two rings on it.
Hey, what’s up there? It’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business and life you love. And today is Q&A Tuesday and this question comes from Fred who writes:
“Hi, Marie. I’ve run a business for about 40 years and my question is this, how can I give more attention to my success and less attention to the setbacks? I noticed that when a deal falls through, it gets a lot more emotional bandwidth and feeling bad than the deals I make. I would like it the other way around. Thanks for your help, Fred.”
Fred, Fred, Fred, Fred, Fred. First of all, you guys, Fred’s in business 40 years. Can we? Come on. And second of all, Fred, this is a great freaking question. Come on.
And I’ll tell you why, because I have wanted to do an episode about this for a very long time. Now, I am sure everyone watching right now can relate, because no matter who you are, no matter how experienced you are, or no matter how successful or accomplished you are, all of us tend to focus on that one negative comment – the one person that rejects us. Right? The tiny little sliver of customers who are just committed to being miserable.
And the reason why is because of a well-documented phenomenon called negativity bias, which is the tendency for us humans to pay more attention and give more weight to negative experiences over neutral or positive ones.
Now, I gotta say, this is not just some fancy psychological concept, people. This is real. This is how our brains are wired. They are wired to take in the bad and ignore the good. Now, I think we should talk about why.
So here’s the deal. This ancient brain circuitry helped our ancestors stay alive and for millions of years now, mother nature has been training us to overestimate threats and underestimate opportunities and resources.
So back in the day humans would hear a noise in a bush and instantly think, “Tiger!” versus, “Hm, I wonder what that is. Is that Erik coming over for a cappuccino?”
Now, while back in the day that hair trigger readiness to think “tiger” and go negative was great, because it kept us alive, nowadays it just keeps us feeling awful. And it’s not just about feeling bad in the moment. Negative experiences move more quickly into our long-term memory and, get this, negativity is terrible for your health. It can weaken your immune system, it can increase anxiety, and reduce your ambition. You know, my favorite expert on this topic is a guy named Dr. Rick Hansen who wrote Hardwiring Happiness, which I recommend. He puts it best. He says:
“The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones.”
So the missed sale, that unsubscribe, the refund, the nasty comment … that’s what tends to stick. But the good news here, there are abso-smurf-ly things that you can do to neutralize negativity bias when it gets triggered and tip the scales towards the positive. In fact, here are three to get you started.
Step number one is name it to tame it. Now, we have to start with self awareness, because you cannot change what you don’t notice. So step number one is to simply acknowledge what’s going on when it happens. So the next time you get a zinger, do not let yourself start thinking that you suck or that everything is going to hell in a handbasket, because it’s not. You just need to say to yourself or to someone else,
“Ah, this is negativity bias. This is my brain’s ancient circuitry doing its job to help keep me alive.” Now, here’s the thing, naming it doesn't instantly make the pain go away, but it does help to lessen the sting.
Step number two is get deliberately distracted. So, if at all possible, distract yourself with something else intentionally. Now, this is all about learning how to put your attention where it serves you best, and that just takes practice. Because what you allow your mind to focus on shapes your brain.
So rather than amplify the pain, really shift your attention to something more positive and productive. So, for example, you might want to whip out a piece of paper and start making the most epic gratitude list ever. Or you might want to throw yourself into a really good exercise class or go watch a fantastic movie or go help someone do something. Really, anything that can give your mind something else to focus on.
Step number three is use the 20-second rule. Okay guys, so this is not a longer version of the three-second rule.
Hey, how long has that lasagna been on the floor?
Only about 18 seconds, buddy. You go to town.
No. What I’m talking about here is internalizing any positive event by savoring the shizzle out of it for at least 20 seconds. You might be asking yourself, why? Here's the reason. Because the best way to combat negativity bias is to embed as many positive experiences and memories in our brains as possible.
So, for example, let’s say your friend sends you this email thanking you for a great weekend together. Don't just say, “Wow, that’s sweet,” and archive it. Don't do that. Spend at least 20 seconds soaking in the memories from that weekend. The goal here is to really cement that positivity in your mind. And if you ever forget about your brain’s ancient circuitry, I want you to whip out this tweetable.
“When your brain gives more weight to the negative, remember you have the power to tip the scale.”
That was my A to your Q, Fred. I really do hope it helps. And now I want to hear from you. So tell me, has negativity bias ever caught you off guard? It’s certainly caught me off guard. What helps you tame your lizard brain? And a little challenge here, I want us to go beyond meditation and beyond EFT. Those are really both valid and important practices, but I would love to see some more variety too.
Now, as always, the best conversations happen after the episode over at the magical land of MarieForleo.com, so go there and leave a comment now. Once you’re there, be sure to subscribe to our email list and become an MF Insider. You’re going to get instant access to an amazing audio training I created called How To Get Anything You Want, plus you’ll get some exclusive content, some special giveaways, and personal updates from me that, frankly, I don't share anywhere else.
Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams, because the world needs that special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll catch you next time on MarieTV.
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In the meantime, coffee.
You did a great job. We did a great job. We’re a good team.
Lasagna nipples, take one.
We’re doing it. We’re doing it.
Had to make it weird.