Self-Regulating Negative Thinking

I recently have been working with the neuroscience of positivity in change situations and came across an interesting study of how your brain can be trained to self-regulate negative thinking. One of the hardest parts of change management is managing all the negative thinking that is so much part of the fear of change.

We know that it is not possible to eliminate this negative thinking, it is part of the process we humans go through in processing change, but could we do more to help people regulate their own negative emotions more? Certainly, things like mindfulness are one approach, but in a 2016 released study neuroscientists at Ben-Gurion University found that training people to just ignore the negative showed reduced activation in the amygdala (the brain region involved in negative emotions, including sadness and anxiety).

“These findings are the first to demonstrate that non-emotional training that improves the ability to ignore irrelevant information can result in reduced brain reactions to emotional events and alter brain connections. These changes were accompanied by strengthened neural connections between brain regions involved in inhibiting emotional reactions.”

What I believe is the impact of this research on leadership and managing change, is how important it is to re-focus people away from the problems and towards the positive outcomes of change. It means a tireless approach to focusing on the positive. Lead the way with positivity and the others are sure to follow. What do others think? Who has experience with dealing with negativity and change?

Get the research.

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