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Is your anxiety focused on how other people are behaving and the real or potential negative impact of that behaviour on yourself and your loved ones? Do you find yourself constantly finding examples of people behaving in ways that make you feel very anxious – and when I say people here I mean individuals, groups, organisations, anything that involves human beings?  Does the world around you feel like a very scary place because (almost) everyone else is doing stupid, dangerous things? Do you find yourself feeling angry as well as anxious and lashing out in an attempt to make people see the error of their ways? And the more anxious and angry you get, do there seem to be ever more thoughtless idiots out there making the world ever more dangerous?

It’s a common thing and you’ll have done it before – remember how last time you bought a dress  everyone else seemed to be wearing it (particularly if you bought that polka-dot one from Zara) , or how when you or someone you loved were pregnant, so was everyone else? That’s Confirmation Bias in action. If it’s getting you down, here’s what you can do to minimise its effect.

  • Once you are aware that this has been happening you are already halfway to improving things for yourself. We are, of course, living through a scary period of history, and there are a lot of things out there that could indeed be a danger to you and your loved ones, but that’s not the full story. There’s lots of good stuff going on too and the easiest way of defeating your negative confirmation bias is to actively look for the good stuff. Here are some suggestions for how to do that:
    • Limit the amount of time you spend on traditional and social media sources, most of whom focus on the negative. Instead, fill your news feed with information from more positive sources such as Upworthy or Good News Network
    • Actively look out for examples of people “doing the right thing” in your world and make a note of them in your diary or journal. When it feels like the world is going to hell in a handcart and everyone is out to get you you’ll be able to look back on all the good stuff you noticed and remind yourself that there are good people out there. The more you notice the more you will find – so basically you will have hijacked your confirmation bias and turned it in the opposite direction.

If you would like to talk through any issues arising from this resource please drop me a line at cathy@therapeuticcoaching.co.uk to arrange your free no-obligation coaching session with me.

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