5 Techniques to Stop Negative Thinking
Negative thinking can cripple your spirit and leave you unable to pursue your dreams and reach your goals. When you think negatively, it prevents you from finding solutions to the problems in your life. In fact, it can actually create further issues by inhibiting your ability to think rationally. When someone is affected by negative thinking for a prolonged period of time, it increases the risk of more serious mental health issues, such as chronic stress and depression.
What Are the Effects of Negative Thinking?
Negative thinking has a profound effect on how your life unfolds, and negative thinking becomes a vicious cycle as negative thinking + the results it produces tends to compound the negative force of these energies in your life. The effects compound upon each other. The following are very common effects of negative thinking:
1. Digging a deeper hole: When someone is constantly complaining, they are not just preventing themselves from moving forward with their lives and solving their problems, but they are actually digging themselves deeper and setting themselves back further.
2. Self-defeating attitude: It is impossible to solve problems when someone is looking for something or someone to blame. Negative thinking essentially puts up a wall that stops you from being able to adequately solve problems, leading to further and bigger problems.
3. Physical stress: When you are a negative thinker, this translates to immense stress in your life. Stress can lead to physical health issues, such as a weaker immune system, ulcers and heart disease.
4. Reduced happiness: It is impossible to be truly happy when you are only seeing the negative side of the coin. Chronic unhappiness can lead to things like lack of job satisfaction and strained personal relationships.
5. Lack of growth: You cannot grow as a person when you are stuck in the vicious cycle of negative thinking. This is because negative thinking forces you into a world where if not everything goes your way, you simply stop trying.
Stress, Depression, and Negative Thinking
Stress and depression are two very serious consequences of chronic negative thinking. Stress results from negative thoughts taking up more space in your mind compared to positive thoughts, and when this happens, you often feel like a victim. Over time, this mentality is magnified, further pushing away positive thoughts. This is a form of cognitive distortion that leads to catastrophizing the events in your life. As you continue down this path, life can start to feel more hopeless, resulting in depression. You will start personalizing things that are not personal, causing you to isolate yourselves from the positive people in your life. Once you start to experience depression, it can be very difficult to recover on your own. Because of this, it is critical that you address your negative thinking before it is able to take such a severe toll on your life.
5 Techniques to Stop Negative Thinking
You can reverse all of the effects of negative thinking by changing how you react to and think about various situations. It is important to break your old habits by doing the following:
1. Dig yourself out of the hole: It is important to immediately look for something positive before complaining. This takes some practice and you essentially have to catch yourself when you are about to start complaining, but you can do it!
2. Overcome defeat: You must stop looking for a way to place blame on external factors and start working toward addressing your problems through personal responsibility for your own life. For example, if you are passed over for a promotion at work, do not blame a boss or a coworker, but instead take a look at your work history and determine where the person who got the promotion excels more than you do. This allows you to improve yourself and put yourself in the position for a promotion in the future.
3. Reduce Stress: It is important to take a simultaneous approach and combat stress and negative thinking at the same time. Consider stress-relieving techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga. These allow you to focus so that you can work toward changing your thoughts and reducing your stress at the same time.
4. Practice Gratitude: Something as simple as a smile increases your happiness. Take a few minutes each day to think about the things in your life that are positive, such as friends and family, your pets or even the fact that your favorite sports team is winning. Practice gratitude.
5. Start growing: To start growing, you must take the time to explore your weaknesses and make plans to strengthen them. For example, if you are not a great communicator, take some time each day to improve your ability to communicate with others. As your ability to communicate improves, you will find that you also become more positive.
Negative thinking is a common affliction because it is easy to feel defeated when life gets hard. However, it is critical to your health that you be able to recognize this type of thinking so that you can work to overcome it. There are very simple changes you can make that allow you stop negative thinking in its tracks so that you can start to live a more productive and positive life today.
- Rosemary K.
Burkeman, O. (2012). How to Harness the Positive Power of Negative Thinking. Retrieved January 19, 2015 from http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_harness_the_power_of_negative_thinking
Kendall, P.C., Howard, B.L., et al. (1989). Self-Referent Speech and Psychopathology: The Balance of Positive and Negative Thinking. Cognitive Therapy and Research. Vol. 13, No. 6, pgs. 583-598
Lyubomirsky, S. & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1995). Effects of Self-Focused Rumination of Negative Thinking and Interpersonal Problem Solving. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 69. No. 1, pgs. 176-190
University of New South Wales. (2006, June 23). Brain Function And Negative Thinking Linked To Late-onset Depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060623100203.htm
Image: LifeHack. Used without permission.
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