By Rafi Smith

In my previous article, I outlined the concept of the ‘negativity bias’, which is that most people tend to lean towards the side of negativity. As mentioned, some of the potential consequences are that we may see more vividly the weaknesses of ourselves and others and less notice the strengths and goodness. We may reflect on our day seeing what we failed to achieve rather than what we did achieve. We may try and initiate change in ourselves with words of self-criticism which lessen our desire to change, rather than with encouragement.

As pointed out, we are not looking to ignore the important functions that our negative aspect gives us, rather the goal here will be to create a healthy balance, that whilst we can notice the negatives, we can equally notice the positives too, and approach things in a healthier way.


Recent research in psychology has uncovered the idea of ‘neuroplasticity’. Neuroplasticity is ‘positive news’. It means that our brains maintain the flexibility to still grow and develop well into our adult years. So, though now our brains may be more leaning towards negativity, we have the ability to shift it to a more balanced state of mind. I will try to provide a few ideas that we can use to try and make that shift.

Listing and Lingering in Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful tool as through it we recognize and acknowledge the good things that happen in our life. By taking even a frustrating day and asking “What good came out of this?”, whether from G-d or another person, and writing it down (evoking our vision and body), sharing it with another (evoking our hearing), and just lingering and absorbing that positive feeling or experience into our hearts a few times daily, we train our minds to start to shift towards naturally noticing, absorbing and appreciating the positive experiences in our everyday.

Change the Self-Talk

Some people find their self-talk to be negative and critical. Already as children, we may have been raised to notice our weaknesses, faults, and mistakes. Growing older, the pattern is likely to continue, noticing weaknesses and faults in ourselves, and using this same voice of criticism as a way to manipulate ourselves into change. Whilst this makes us aware of the need to change, the voice of a self-critic sounds more like a sadistic ruler than an encouraging friend. Making changes in our lives and character is difficult. Are we more likely to feel safe and trusting in taking those steps from a voice of tyranny or the voice of caring compassion? Validating that we are humans with strengths and weaknesses, that changes are hard and scary, and talking with kindness, compassion, and encouragement will likely awaken within us the power of change, and if you don’t believe me, try it first!

Reframing situations see our Accomplishments

As I am writing this article, I suddenly think about the time I have now lost for other things. Though that is true, what is more significant is my accomplishment and value here, which is producing a meaningful article that others can grow and benefit from!

Perhaps I will worry that this article won’t turn out as good as I would like. But again, what is more important, is the helpful messages it contains and the positive effect it can have on people!

Uncovering Strengths

We can all list our weaknesses and failures. But how about creating a list that is even half as long that identies our possible strengths and achievements? We might even shock ourselves at this new way of looking at ourselves, noticing more of what we can do and what we have to offer. What about thinking of the goodness in those around us? Doesn’t that make them more enjoyable to be around?!

In conclusion: The negativity bias has its place and purpose, but also its limitations. By being able to nurture that positive part of our minds, we enable ourselves to really thrive and grow into more beautiful, fulfilled, and positive people and more attuned to the positive experiences in our lives.


Bio: Rafi Smith is a Clinical Counsellor/Psychotherapist, based in Jerusalem, with experience working with clients with anxiety, low self-esteem, OCD, addiction, ADHD, and relationship issues. For questions, feedback or inquiries:

Email: or call/WhatsApp +972527160858.

(For previous articles: