How Holding Onto Negativity Threatens Psychological Well-Being

How Holding Onto Negativity Threatens Psychological Well-Being

Letting go of negativity curtails amygdala persistence and may boost well-being.

via Psychology Today by Christopher Bergland

Key Points:

  • New research examining how long people held onto negative feelings found that those whose amygdalas retained such stimuli longer reported more negative emotions and experienced lower psychological well-being over time.
  • Holding onto negative stimuli is also impactful because it affects one’s self-appraisal of their own well-being.
  • Finding ways to keep small setbacks from bringing you down, then, can lead to greater emotional well-being.

Do you tend to hold on to negative emotions when something (or someone) annoying gets under your skin? As clichés go: Are you prone to “sweat the small stuff” and “cry over spilled milk”? Or do “Grrr!” moments and the minor aggravations you experience while going about day-to-day life tend to dissipate before something negative puts you in a foul mood?

New research suggests that people in midlife with the happy-go-lucky ability to let negative emotions roll off their back might be creating an upward spiral of better long-term psychological well-being (PWB) by breaking the cycle of “amygdala persistence” that appears to be correlated with dwelling on negativity.

According to the researchers, how a person’s brain (especially the left amygdala region) evaluates fleeting negative stimuli—either by holding on to the negativity or letting it go—may have a lasting impact on PWB. This peer-reviewed study (Puccetti et al., 2021) was published on March 22 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Ken Cook/Shutterstock

Source: Ken Cook/Shutterstock

First author Nikki Puccetti and senior author Aaron Heller of the University of Miami conducted this research with colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds, Cornell University, Penn State, and the University of Reading. In addition to being an assistant professor of psychology at UMiami, Heller is a clinical psychologist, affective neuroscientist, and the Manatee Lab‘s principal investigator.

“The majority of human neuroscience research looks at how intensely the brain reacts to negative stimuli, not how long the brain holds on to a stimulus,” Heller said in a news release. “We looked at the spillover—how the emotional coloring of an event spills over to other things that happen.”

… keep reading the full & original article HERE