How Negativity Bias affects your mental Health
When memory becomes distorted even just a little, or a false memory is fabricated – how you see the world and react, can affect your mental health. That great imagination we often refer to can be – friend or foe. It is common to have “mistakes” in your recollection of an event. FYI – Your emotional state directly impacts memory. Depending on if you see the glass half full or half empty much of your memory can easily be tipped to the negative side. Truth is that these false memories are believed to be accurate. In fact, their believability may be what is holding you captive!
If you start to make vegetable soup from a can and then add ingredients everything goes in and it is difficult to determine the original from that which has been doctored. When you scoop out a bowl everything is mixed all together. So, the canned soup had alphabets and you added elbow macaroni that can be differentiated. But what about the favors between the can and homemade part of the broth. People add extra water, diced pieces of onion and carrot, etc., and their own seasoning. At this point, the original and the additions become one. If you grew up on that type of doctored soup chances are mom made it to her liking and even though she added ingredients to accomplish it, the soup would have a special flavor. This is how your memory becomes much more than just the “actual events”.
Memories naturally tend to change over time. Take the example of a woman having just experienced natural childbirth – I have heard many women screaming out during labor “I will never do this again. It is terrible” etc. That same woman with babe in arms on the phone to a friend later that day often exclaims “ It wasn’t that bad.” Others only remember the pain and they tell the world. Our society is one that people like to one-up each other, and usually the negative gets the most attention. On the other hand, I have seen women even in false labor telling others how terrible it is while not even acknowledging the contractions that show up on the monitor and they get sent home. A woman who gets an epidural on admission comes in is laughing, texting, carrying on normal conversations, yet when she comes in for the next baby sheremembers you were her nurse. She talks about how terrible it was??? Yet you remember how chatty she was, with no physical appearance of any pain much less discomfort. No matter what your expectations of pain are the body responses are pretty cut and dry. With Pain, not just discomfort, there are changes in vital signs, changes in breathing, breath-holding, facial expressions, wincing, grasping, or tensing….
Most people have never experience severe pain so when asked almost anything that hurts is rated a 10! In society today they expect NOT to experience pain or much less discomfort because they just pop a pill.
FYI When I get asked how to rate my pain my answer is Only Jesus on the cross suffered a 10, those with burns and cancer can be 9’s. When the pain is so severe you can not talk I rate it an 8. ( If you have ever seen someonein excruciatin pain you know what I mean.)
Very well mind explains how:
Just look up negativity bias on Verywellmind.com There is a tendency to overemphasize the negative which can influence your reactions to life. Those with anxiety, stress, or mental illness can magnify the negative exponentially. That being said, negativity bias, can take a toll on your mental health! Just google – Negativity bias and anxiety.
Negative bias and false memories go hand in hand.
(At Verywellmind.com/ false memories, You will find a section on the potential impact of false memories. I suggest you read that section.)
During your life, you are constantly forming perspective, where negative random thoughts and events can tag along! They are responsible for formatting your memories. Psychology today may help you understand. They state:
“ human memory is not a recording device, but more like a Wikipedia page: You can change it, but others can too.”
So when you surround yourself with anything or anyone with the same problems you can magnify the effect of negativity on your memories. We have stated before if you are a suggestable person, you must also watch what your read, what you see, what you listen to, and where you are.
FALSE MEMORIES ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE FORMED BY THOSE WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY
If you wanted to get all medical…. the stress hormone cortisol may be responsible for suppressing the hippocampus, the structure in the brain needed to form new memories. You can find this at Psychology today.
As you expose yourself to that which is negative, you internalize those things. They become who you, are how you see the world. If there are gaps in your memory your brain will seek and try to fill in the blanks, so if you are full of negative thoughts and emotions it is very likely that something not desirable will sneak in and become a flawed memory. As a society, we try to one-up each other so a simple memory, when told repeatedly, will change, and usually, it gets more intense along the way. Any changes to the story become part of the memory and therefore distorted from the truth.
Many people with stess, anxiety, will be adament that their plight, their unhappiness, are founded on a memory. A vivid memory which just happens to only be partially true. Have you ever heard 2 people in a heated dicussion about how they remember something they were both present for? One person is devastated because of an event. The other person keeps saying –but it was not that bad!
Could you be one of those people whose false memory is contributind to making you unhappy? This is a good reason to elicit the help of a professional to help you. What if even a small part of your memory is tainted? The good news is that False memories can be reversed!
A good example of how society tends to glorify the negative.
When teaching youth, I often line them up on opposite sides of the room. One side is complimentary the other just bullies. The bully side has no problem dishing out mean things to the person across the way, their rants can go on and on. While the polite side has a hard time coming up with compliments. The bully side always seems to enjoy their bullying, while the complimentary side is often lost for words and in a sense embarrassed to give uplifting words……
Think about it!
I have heard people stop going to therapy as if the therapist does not believe them. Take this into consideration, – the therapist is aware that your perception may be altered by false memories or negativity bias. They understand that you believe things as you remember. It is their job to work through things in your life that have held you captive and help set you free!
When you combat negative bias you go a long way to improve your mental health.
For a Biblical perspective lets think of negativity as an addiction