And Why a Positive Outlook Matters
As professionals and leaders, we often encounter anxiety and fear that can prevent us from reaching our full potential. However, understanding why “bad” seems to have a stronger impact on us than “good” can help us manage our anxiety and become braver in both our personal and professional lives. In this follow-up article, we will explore why bad is stronger than good and provide actionable advice on how to overcome anxiety and become braver.
If you haven’t read my previous article on why bad is stronger than good, you can find it here: https://philarist.com/bad-is-stronger-than-good/. In this article, we will build on that understanding and provide additional examples and practical advice.
- The power of criticism vs. praise:
Research has shown that the impact of criticism is much stronger than that of praise. For example, if a manager criticizes an employee’s work, the employee is likely to dwell on that criticism and feel more anxious and stressed, even if they have received praise for their work in the past. On the other hand, praise, even if it is well-deserved, may not have the same impact on the employee’s emotions and motivation. This is why it’s important to be mindful of how we give feedback and criticism, and to provide constructive feedback that focuses on improvement rather than blame.
- The impact of looming deadlines:
When we have a deadline approaching, the anxiety and stress we feel can be overwhelming. This is because our brains tend to focus more on the potential negative consequences of missing the deadline, such as the repercussions it could have on our job or reputation, rather than the positive outcome of completing the task on time. To manage this anxiety, it’s important to break down the task into smaller, more manageable steps, and to focus on the progress we are making rather than the final outcome.
- The impact of being excluded:
When we feel excluded from a social event or a work project, it can have a significant impact on our emotions and self-esteem. Our brains tend to focus on the potential negative consequences of being excluded, such as being seen as unimportant or not fitting in, rather than the positive aspects of the situation, such as having more free time or being able to focus on other projects. To overcome this anxiety, it’s important to focus on our strengths and accomplishments, and to seek support from friends, colleagues, or mentors who can help us stay positive and motivated.
- Focus on your strengths:
One way to overcome anxiety is to focus on your strengths and accomplishments. Instead of dwelling on your weaknesses and failures, try to identify your unique talents and qualities that have helped you succeed in the past. By recognizing your strengths, you can boost your self-confidence and feel more empowered to tackle new challenges.
- Practice mindfulness:
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for managing anxiety and becoming braver. By staying present in the moment and observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment, you can reduce stress and improve your ability to cope with difficult situations. Mindfulness can also help you cultivate a sense of curiosity and openness to new experiences, which can lead to personal and professional growth.
- Take calculated risks:
Taking calculated risks can help you overcome anxiety and become braver. This means making decisions that are informed by careful consideration and analysis, rather than impulsivity or fear. By stepping outside your comfort zone and taking on new challenges, you can build resilience and develop a growth mindset.
- Seek support:
Finally, seeking support from others can be an effective way to manage anxiety and become braver. Whether it’s a mentor, coach, or therapist, having someone to talk to can provide you with valuable feedback, guidance, and encouragement. It can also help you.
To understand why bad is stronger than good, it is also useful to consider the psychological bias of loss aversion, a concept advanced by Daniel Kahneman (which he coined using the term Prospect Theory). Loss aversion refers to the phenomenon of the pain of losing something being greater than the pleasure of gaining something of equal value. In Kahneman’s estimation, the promised gain of a decision should be at least twice the value of a prospective loss to tilt our preference towards action. This can help us understand why we focus more on the negative consequences of a situation than the positive, and partly explains why we may cling more to negatives than positives. It’s worth noting that Kahneman’s ideas on loss aversion and other aspects of behavioral economics were so influential that he, despite being a psychologist, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002, providing an important push to the field of behavioral economics as we know it today.
Remember, growth is a journey, not a destination. It takes time, effort, and dedication to develop the resilience and mindset needed to overcome fear and achieve our goals. But by implementing these practical strategies and seeking support from others, we can become braver, more confident, and more successful in all aspects of our lives.