Why Your Thoughts Default to the Negative and What to Do About It

When you get bad news, it’s so easy to get sucked into the negative swirl.

Blame your ancestors for this. It’s called negativity bias. Our brains look for — and learn best from — the negative. Because those who were able to do this survived and, unfortunately, passed that trait on to us.

The data on this is pretty awful. 90% of our thoughts are recurring (we’ve had them before). And 80% of those are negative.

When bad news comes our way, too often the amygdala (which is designed to keep us safe) gets triggered and shuts down 2/3rds of our brain: the parts that make decisions (emotional brain) and those that make plans and see the future (thinking brain). That leaves us with four options: fight, flight, freeze or fawn. This can bring on the “swirl.”

What can we do about this? Here’s a quick video with a three-step approach I tapped after a client let me know our work together was ending.


The Notice/Shift/Rewire method first appeared in a book by wellness experts and entrepreneurs Nate Klemp and Eric Langshur.

This is based on the idea that we can influence the way our brains work (rewire them) by choosing the thoughts we focus on. In this case, gratitude and savoring what’s good in our lives now — and on the way.

For me, the method was much better than jumping into frenzied action to attract a new client to replace the one that was gone–which was bound to lead to more negative results and thoughts. (There’s nothing like being in scarcity to make everyone around you want to run away!) It stopped the self-questioning and brought the calm that would allow me to focus on my own value and attract others who will recognize that.

Give this a go when you have bad news, or are having a moment when you’re feeling “less than.” Start rewiring your brain for better thoughts — which lead to better results.