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While having a negative friend may be hard to deal with, science shows that they can’t help it! We’re all hard-wired to react to negative information more strongly than positive information for survival.
Studies show that people find it more distressing to lose $1,000 than feel elated and rewarded by winning $1,000. See “Conservation of Resources Theory: Losses are More Powerful than Gains,” by Marc Farinelli, Politics of the Mind (December 30, 2012).
- Here’s an example. Just say you’re a monkey in a forest and have a solid source pantry – a banana tree. One morning your banana tree has been chopped down and all the bananas are gone. Oh no, you’ve lost all your resources and your stress levels skyrocket. You have to scramble to survive and find another tree. Your brain puts you on high alert.
- However, this time your banana tree is a cornucopia so you decide to head further in to the forest. You spot another banana tree and jump up and down with joy. It’s a reward, and our brain loves a reward. But those bananas are a bonus tree and your survival doesn’t depend on them. You won the forest lottery, and enjoy its bounty.
Number 1 is your salary and Number 2 is your end of year bonus.
Many have overcome these basic negative traits of seeing the banana tree half empty, while others find changing their negative attitudes difficult.
Negative Friends Do It The Hard-Wired Way!
A negative friend can range from mildly annoying to extremely taxing. If you’re invested in this friendship it’s time to change the conversation. There are techniques to overcome negativity, but saying to a friend “don’t be so negative” is not one of them.
Cognitive therapy helps redirect your thought patterns.
“One obvious solution is to walk away from them. But this is easier said than done… A more practical approach to dealing with them is to start by understanding the reasons for their negativity,” Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D. in Sapient Nature, “Dealing with Negative People,” Psychology Today, March 19, 2013.
Remember… an aware friend starts with you!
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Image courtesy: Photograph by Infomatique at flickr.com
© Glenda Shaw_Superfriendgroups.com / Gshawmedia 2014
Please note: I hide specific and identifiable details in my friend stories as these stories are examples of behavior and not meant to hurt anyone. These stories are based on my opinion and perspective, except when the people written about are in the public domain. Any advice in this blog is from my insights, research and opinion only, and must not be considered as legal or medical advice.