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Survival instinct: Time to challenge your negativity bias…

We know that our brains have developed to help us notice danger and (hopefully) respond to it. Our survival has depended on this system working effectively. However, this same system can also cause us to have a negativity bias as it can be sensitive to the bad news around us.

Does this sound familiar?

You remember the mistake that you made in last weeks match? The negative thing your coach said? Or the team you weren’t selected for?

What do we know about the negativity bias?

  • As it turns out, we are evolutionary wired to give greater weight to negative experiences instead of positive ones.

  • We automatically respond faster and stronger to the bad, easily dismissing the good.

  • Our survival depended on this negativity bias.

  • It was a way for our ancestors to be cautious of all environmental dangers around us.

  • Being constantly so alert to threats and worst-case scenarios is what helped our ascendants survive.

Train your brain for positivity:

Note: this isn’t about false positivity we also need to lean into our more challenging emotions and notice when the negativity is relevant as this is a part of being human

  • Notice the positive emotions that are showing up such as joy, interest, contentment, pride, and love.

  • For a positive experience to get into our long-term memory we should hold it in our field of attention for at least 10-20 seconds, if not it disappears. So pause and take the time to notice the positives.

  • Actively build up on the positive. Look for the good (facts) and turn them into positive experiences that you can carry forward with you through life.

  • Focus on: the good pass you made in a game, the clean routine that you did or the nice chat you had with your friend after the tournament, notice it and savour it.

This is why we strongly encourage you to take some time to reflect on your sport experiences and recommend a positives first approach to this process. It is about challenging the negativity bias and training your brain for positivity.


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