Negative Bias

This is one of "22 virus definitions" (thought-mistakes that cause ineffectiveness and unnecessary negative emotions).

Why would anyone focus on one negative aspect of a situation? Why would anyone dwell on the most upsetting aspect of the circumstances? Why would anyone think depressing thoughts, knowing those thoughts make them depressed? Do people want to feel bad?


You, me, and everyone else wants to be happy, but we're all under the influence of four powerful negative biases.

Really the driving force behind all 22 of the thought-mistakes are these negative biases. So let’s go into some detail about them right now, because they will help illuminate the rest of the virus definitions.

The four biases are:

1. The brain’s negative bias

2. Reality’s negative bias

3. Communication’s negative bias

4. The media’s negative bias

These four biases drain away your life force, much in the same way as a lamprey. A lamprey is a fish with a suction cup for a mouth that attaches itself to other fish and drinks their blood. When that fish is dead, the lamprey lets go and finds another fish.

Lampreys are a good metaphor for the devastating impact negative emotions have on people. Negativity has a way of attaching itself to your mind, draining you of your health and ability — not metaphorically, but literally.

Chronic or frequent negative emotions can lead to heart disease and strokes, encourage the development of cancer, and even weaken your bones. Negative ways of thinking and perceiving the world can take away your creativity, your persistence, and your ability to achieve your goals. Negative emotions undermine your relationships, ruin your sense of humor, and destroy your ability to solve problems.

A negative bias is a lamprey of the mind, a deadly parasite, and this parasite uses your lifeblood, your energy, your mind, to breed and spread to other minds, using and destroying life force wherever it goes.

These are the four negative biases:

1. The brain: Your brain reacts more strongly to negative information than it does to positive information. Threatening images capture your attention more compellingly than pleasant images. When your mind isn’t otherwise engaged, it drifts randomly until an upsetting thought occurs. Then your mind will stop drifting and think about the thing that upsets you.

Because of the brain’s stronger reaction to (and greater fixation on) negative images and thoughts, the naturally-occurring thought-mistakes brains are prone to make produce a pessimism, cynicism, and defeatism, all three of which are self-defeating and counterproductive.

2. Communication: Because of the media and the pressures of social interaction, negativity has become chic. For social reasons, people you talk to will often withhold good news and share bad news. And a prominent topic of everyday conversations has an inevitably negative tone: talking about grievances. You and everyone else on this planet are compelled by your own biology to gossip — to share your complaints about other people, to listen to complaints about other people, and to sympathize with the complainer.

On top of all this, your most significant goals are likely to be stomped on my well-meaning friends and family.

This makes any conversation an opportunity for lampreys to invade your mind.

3. Reality: It is usually easier to notice and remember something going wrong than something going right. This leads to pessimistic (and false) conclusions like, “My boss is always on my back,” or “My wife never wants to do what I want to do.”

Reality's negative bias works in several different ways. Sometimes no matter what decision you make, things will turn out badly. Under certain circumstances, the cut-throat behavior of others encourages nice people to be more cut-throat just because of the nature of reality.

To make all this even worse, once reality shows its negative bias, it is natural to form negative conclusions that then function like self-fulfilling prophesies as your mind automatically seeks evidence to confirm your conclusions. Result: A tendency to become more pessimistic, cynical, and defeatist as you get more experience dealing with reality.

4. Media: Because of the brain’s negative bias — combined with the intense competition between stations — producers and advertisers constantly exploit your natural reaction to threats of danger. The unfortunate side-effect is the airwaves are filled with hour upon hour of pessimism-producing programs.

And they use all the know-how at their disposal (which is considerable) to keep you glued to the set longer than you want to be, absorbing a distorted view of the world as a far more dangerous and depressing place than it really is.

The negative biases function like a lamprey of on your mind, draining you of life — sapping your strength and determination, impairing your health, and weakening your ability.

You obviously care about having a good attitude. Let us destroy the lamprey of the mind and bring back the determination, the positive attitude, the openness, the love, the accomplishment, the self-expression that was once native to our minds.

See the complete list of definitions: The 22 Virus Definitions.

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