Your tricky brain – negativity bias.

Lately I have been wondering why – even after more than a year of a predominantly no sugar, no flour way of eating and reaching my goal weight – I still have cravings for salt crunch/sweet treat over-indulgences.  It’s justification and/or rationalization.  I am a master ‘justifier’ especially when it comes to change.

I have a long list of perfectly viable, ready-made reasons/justifications (er, um… excuses) for avoiding change.  “I’ve had a long day, no time to prep and cook.”  “I will workout in the morning.”  “I skipped breakfast this morning.” “I fasted yesterday.”  The list is endless – often with completely illogical excuses – “it’s cold and raining.”  I have been known to use that excuse to justify my choice to not exercise, though I rarely (if ever these days) exercise outside… Seriously?  Brain, what are you thinking?

Isn’t is annoying how ‘tomorrow is always a better time to do something,’ especially when that something deviates from your established routine?  Our brain, is brilliant at drumming up evidence to not change.  It’s wicked tricky that way.  Our brain’s default setting is change lethal/familiar safe and secure.  Even when familiar is contrary to our long-term desires. 

This change lethal/familiar safe and secure default setting is a present-day design flaw that was extremely useful back ‘in the day’ when we lived in an exceptionally hostile world. Our ancestors had brains that were beautifully designed to FIND breakfast, not BE breakfast.  It’s called the negativity bias.  Our brains are literally hard wired to look for the negative… “danger is everywhere, you are about to die, so be careful woman!”  We see thorns not roses, snakes not sticks, a wild beast not our boss.  It’s in our DNA. 

And this design flaw generates considerable angst in the 21st Century, where we rarely have difficulty finding breakfast, and I am fairly certain, being breakfast is extremely rare!  But to our brain, a stress is a stress.  Wild beast or misplaced keys – Argh! we are going to die.  And similar to a life-saving home fire alarm, the same heart stopping siren alerts you to an overcooked roast chicken or a house on fire about to explode with equal intensity.  Your brain is either silent, all is fine or on full red alert, we are going to die!  There is no cautionary in between.  

When it comes to making changes, just knowing about this evolutionary design flaw is helpful.  “Oh, right it’s roast chicken, not the house about to explode.”  Whew.  You can also acknowledge, ah… right, negativity bias.  Design flaw – wicked tricky brain. 

Be aware your brain has this negativity bias, listen to it as appropriate (if it’s not roast chicken and the house is about to explode, please respond accordingly!) 

You can, intentionally tell your brain what to think.  So powerful!  You can over-ride the internal fire alarm.

Buff it up, my friends
Dr. Karen

Are you ready to Buff Up Your Brain? Ready to, lose weight and the brain fog?  Ready to polish up your thoughts? Let’s chat.