Neuroscientists say that Mother Nature hardwired you with a negativity bias for survival. It’s a fact. Your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones. And because your negativity bias has a longer shelf life than positivity, you tend to overestimate threats and underestimate your ability to overcome them. It takes three positive thoughts to offset one negative thought.
When negativity strikes, you can underestimate threats and overestimate your ability to overcome them. Here are 10 tips to help you bounce back from bad news or difficult workdays and stack the resilience deck in your favor.
- Focus on the upside of a downside situation. “I have to pay X amount in taxes” becomes “I made X amount this year.”
- Pinpoint the opportunity contained in a difficult challenge. Ask, “How can I make this situation work to my advantage? Can I find something positive in it? What can I manage or overcome in this instance?”
- Frame a setback as a lesson to learn, not a failure to endure. Ask what you can learn from difficult outcomes and use them as stepping-stones, instead of roadblocks. Think of the situation as happening for you instead of to you.
- Broaden your scope. Put on your wide-angle lens. Look beyond the disappointment or failure, think of the big picture, and include all the people and things in your life that you’re grateful for and let that steer you beyond the gloom.
- Be chancy. Take small risks in new situations instead of predicting negative outcomes before giving them a try. “If I go to the office party, I won’t know anyone” becomes “If I go to the party, I could meet a new friend or colleague.”
- Avoid blowing a situation out of proportion. Don’t let one negative experience rule your whole outlook: “I didn’t get the promotion; now I’ll never advance in my career” becomes “I didn’t get the promotion, but there are many pathways to success.”
- Focus on the solution, not the problem. You’ll feel more empowered to cope with career curve balls when you step away from the problem and brainstorm a wide range of possibilities. Your wide-angle lens will help you see them.
- Practice positive self-talk. After a big letdown, underscore your triumphs and high-five your “tallcomings” instead of bludgeoning yourself with your “shortcomings.” Affirm positive feedback instead of letting it roll over your head.
- Hang out with positive people. Optimism is contagious. When you surround yourself with optimistic people, positivity rubs off
- Strive to see the the fresh start contained in your loss. Every loss contains a gain but you have to look for it. Every time you get up just one more time than you fall, your perseverance increases the likelihood of propelling you up the career ladder. Baseball great Babe Ruth said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up. Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
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Happy New Year!