We’ve all had one of those weeks: Your car breaks down, you get in trouble at work, you spill wine on an expensive dress, a family member gets sick. Sometimes those weeks turn into months or even years, and you begin to wonder if the universe is out to get you.
This year has been one of those weeks on a giant scale.
“The sad truth is that the pandemic and all of the upheaval it’s caused is nothing compared to what’s going to be happening in the next decade in terms of weather events,” said Sheldon Solomon, a researcher and social psychologist.
“When bad things happen and we feel negative, and we’re uncertain about how things are going to go, we get stuck and we go in a loop,” said Ethan Kross, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. To make matters worse, we tend to remember negative events more than positive ones. And when that happens on a global scale, it becomes a “giant death reminder,” as Dr. Solomon puts it. This degree of uncertainty — and our aversion to it — tends to bring out the worst in our behavior. It makes us xenophobic and materialistic, and more susceptible to manipulation and risky behavior.
However, the way that we process negative experiences can help reset that behavior.
In his research, Dr. Kross found that when people used self-distancing techniques, their stress levels and physical health indicators improved, and they were also better able to solve problems and resolve conflicts.
Read the full article at the New York Times.