Are you addicted to the negative?

I barely know who Miley Cyrus is but a few days again I encountered this quote from her ‘You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind’. A mind becomes negative because we feed it negative. From the daily news to our personal encounters, we focus on the negative.

I attended a street fair over the weekend. Like any public event, people watching opportunities abound. After several hours of being entertained by my people watching adventure, I realized that it was those people where I had a negative comment that attracted most of my attention.

It often seems that we are genetically predisposed to be negative toward others and to crave negative from others. What I have learned in my research is that pain and negative emotions activate the reward centers of the brain, causing unconscious addiction to those negative emotions. The reward center of the brain is usually considered the pleasure center, it’s the place where the brain gets excited and ‘lights up’ and enjoys the sensation. It is the pleasure center that creates a self-reinforced addiction. We all know that people become addicted to sex, or drugs or exercise because it activates the beta-endorphin or dopamine pathways.

As it turns out, pain and negative emotions (e.g. self-pity, anger, guilt) also activate the beta-endorphin and dopamine pathways. As a result we can become addicted to these emotions and negative thoughts. It makes sense that when you’re stressed or in a flight-or-fight situation, your brain releases dopamine.

Are you addicted to the negative?

Tomorrow we’ll talk about how to overcome your addiction to the negative

 

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