Newspapers, Television and other modern media all bombard us with negative stories –human cruelty .recession, terrorism, war. The list is endless. Our brain can take over these pessimistic world and the natural tendency of our brain to zone in on bad news, this pessimism can be overwhelming. Actually the media is infused by a pervasive attraction to pessimism.
Human brain highlights danger laden information, relegating the potentially pleasurable to second place. Even the faintest hint of threat is picked up instantly, putting a halt to all other processes in order to concentrate on the danger. Such a proclivity to notice the negative rather than the positive makes it more difficult to be optimistic. Once the fear brain is activated, logic tends to get shut down for a while, and in many modern situations this can be a real problem. It makes more difficult to experience pleasure and develop an optimistic outlook, but they can also lead to more pervasive anxieties and worries that can take the lustre off life. Fear unleashed in an instant can lead to lingering anxieties which can nudge us towards a pessimistic outlook. The constant reminder of dangers and bad things that have happened makes it difficult to see the world as a rosy place. This system also makes it hard to become more optimistic. Whether it’s the fear of stepping out of our comfort zone. Apprehensiveness about taking a risk, or the apprehension that maybe we aren’t good enough, its our fears and anxieties that frequently hold us back, turning us towards the darker, more negative side of life.
It is note that the optimist sees every single thing as rosy, just as the pessimist does not see everything as bleak. Instead, it is the emphasis of one over the other that, overtime, makes a difference. Confirmation bias is a great example of how low-level biases can shape our beliefs. For example, if you are convinced that women are worse drivers than men, then you will confirm this beliefs by noticing lots of examples of bad driving by women. What you miss are the examples of poor male driving or good female driving. Things that don’t fit with your core belief don’t get noticed. Our belief system determines what we notice about the world around us, but the same time our beliefs are determined to a large extent by what we notice in the first place.
We have to learn to regulate our pessimistic outlook effectively by simply re-evaluating how we interpret things. if overwhelmed by distressing thoughts, we can attempt to modulate them by using strategies to tell ourselves that maybe they aren’t that bad after all. Postive direction leads to a gradual change in social reinforcement and mood over time. In other words, once a bias is shifted in a more positive directions, the pessimistic person responds more positively in social interactions, which eventually lead to an upward spiral of positively.
Psychological therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness based rational emotive behaviour therapy all work by changing negative biases. while the psychological therapies affect our ability to regulate and control our pessimism, we can change the deep rooted distortions, neither our genetic makeup nor our experiences should set the course of our life in stone .while our nature and our nurture certainly make it more likely that we will react in one way or another. There would a human potential which, by shifting our mindscape –the patterns of biases and distortions unique to us- we are able to shift the way we see the world.