November 15


Hack Your Unconscious: Why Negative Feelings Linger

By Peter Julian

It’s an aggravating and sometimes draining part of daily life, negative feelings. Sadly euphoria tends to bloom and desist in rapid order. Meanwhile, the icky aura of bad feelings after a break up, or a failure, can hang on like the last autumn leaf, clinging for weeks or longer. New data suggests there is a biological basis for this. Before humans became as vocal and dependant on logic and education as they are now, much of the data entering our craniums was nonverbal and based on stimuli. We reacted with speedy certainty for example, to the threat of a predator, based on a huge array of stimulus that our logical mind of today would need paragraphs to quantify. So, those icky feelings are our primitive stimuli processors, telling us that we had a run-in with something truly unpleasant. The hangover comes as our far slower modern and logical neural processors kick in and try to categorize the plethora of data our primitive brain has already lumped together as just bad and good therefore to avoid.

Key Takeaways:

  • The concept of affective salience indicates that humans are almost always faster to process emotions than concrete information.
  • Studies suggest that the brain prioritizes emotionally negative stimulus over positive stimulus.
  • In practical terms, this means that when anything upsetting happens to us, the emotions we feel as a result tend to register faster and more strongly than the facts of the case.

“Deep within the unconscious mind are implicit processes, faculties of the mind, so to speak, that ensure our survival, yet have a complex impact on emotional regulation”

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