Do you remember being at the shops and seeing someone you know? Being a friendly sort you give them a wave or a smile. But they don’t wave back. I know, it’s pretty rude isn’t it. And you might feel a bit of a dill and wonder if other people are looking at you. Or perhaps you wonder if they are ignoring you on purpose, and that makes you feel a bit anxious. So perhaps you take on some of this uncertainty and carry it around with you for the rest of the day, or until you see them again.
Does your child spill milk on the floor when they are preparing their breakfast, and you think, or say, “bugger, another mess to clean up”? Especially when you have a busy day ahead.
Does this sound like you? Do you tend to automatically focus on the negative of a situation? Or do you think, “maybe they didn’t see me”; “isn’t it great he’s becoming independent”.
Having a negative response bias is a type of distorted or helpful thinking style. We all may do this from time to time, but more so when we are under prolonged stress or feeling depressed. We may see our weaknesses and forget our strengths. When someone gives us feedback we focus on the negative and reject the positive.
Noticing the positive is a choice, and it is also a skill we can develop. Maybe the next time you notice a negative thought, look for an alternative explanation, see a different perspective, choose to focus on the positive, and allow the negative thought to take a backwards role.
photo by http://www.buddhadoodles.com
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.