It is natural for your mind to wander into negative territory now and then. But if you find it crossing over too often or lingering there for longer periods, you need to sit up and take note. And, you need to find ways to change those negative thoughts to positive ones.
Before you start working in this direction, you need to understand that everyone has their share of negative thoughts. Some have realized the harm it does to themselves and the people around them. They have painstakingly worked on themselves to overcome this affliction.
What are negative thoughts? Why do we have automatic negative thoughts? How do negative thoughts harm us? Is it possible to overcome and eliminate them? How to cope with negative thoughts? Let us explore further…
Why do you have negative thoughts?
Insecurity, anxiety, fear, and stress are some of the major factors that trigger negative thinking. The logic behind this is simple – when you are stressed or anxious, your natural survival instinct kicks in and you will start thinking about the worst-case scenarios. Then you cannot stop things from going down the hill.
If you are the kind of person who dwells more in the past and future than in the present, it can lead to overthinking and unnecessary worrying. It would be natural for you to worry about what all can go wrong in the future based on your past experiences.
Negative thinking is a likely byproduct of a bad day or a bad phase in life. When you are feeling down, it is normal to blame yourself and look at the negative side of everything. When this continues for a prolonged period, you will get used to this line of thinking which can lead to depression.
You can read more about How to attract positive energy.
Examples of negative thoughts
These are some of the automatic thoughts examples that most people have in their normal course of life. You may be able to recognize and relate to a few among them.
When you start speculating the meanings and intents behind the actions and words of others, you are not just doing them an injustice, but you are also being unkind to yourself. While you are ready to leave your deeds without critical analysis, you promptly pounce on those of others, nitpicking on every word and gesture. Or sometimes even their absence.
As an example, you want to borrow a book and your friend tells you that he can’t find it.
Without any evidence, you assign negative interpretations. Your accusations will result in bad blood and parting ways. While you thrust the blame on the other person, ultimately you end up losing a friend.
Teach yourself the art of communication. Learn how to discuss your concerns with your near and dear ones without the accusatory tone creeping in. Discuss, clear the air, and move on.
This is somewhat similar to the previous one, but the damage is more for you than the other person. Your insecurity is the main culprit here. You are again guessing the intention behind the words and actions of others, but interpret it to mean their bias against you.
For example, “he is not calling me because he is angry at me” or “she is ignoring me because she is jealous of me”.
Again, without any evidence, you assume the reasons for another person’s actions and words. For all you know, there may be nothing to it. Unnecessarily, you end up entertaining negative thoughts and damaging the relationship.
Again, learning how to communicate your concerns without prejudice is the key to this. Avoid jumping to conclusions. Open discussion can resolve a problem, even when none exists.
Blaming is the common reaction when you encounter problems, failures, and mistakes. It is as if you feel compelled to blame yourself or others when something goes wrong. That is like adding insult to the injury. The problem itself give rise to negativity. Blaming can only make it worse.
It is not easy to shake off these thoughts, as your mind keeps analyzing the event. The more your mind linger on these negative thoughts, the more you will feel like a failure, leading to depression.
Breakup is a good example. Depending on your perspective, you may blame yourself or your partner or even your friends.
You may end up shouldering other’s blame, which can lead to low self-esteem. Or you may blame others for your failures and mistakes and refuse to own up responsibility. You will feel isolated and end up losing friends.
The best way to deal with this kind of negative thinking is to train your mind to look at the event as an impartial third-party. It is not easy to achieve, but with determination and perseverance, you will get there.
Guilt trips, Comparisons & Prophesies:
Guilt trips are based on your impressions of a perfect world. You keep harping on ‘what should have been’, ‘what must have happened’, or ‘if only you did that’. Learn to accept things are they are and you will find these negative thoughts vanish in no time.
Comparing yourself with others is something that comes to most people naturally. “She is more beautiful than me” or “he has a loving family, but look at me, sad and lonely” may seem harmless. You may even use these as an impetus to better your life. Unknowing to you, it is undermining your self-esteem and confidence. It is better to stop thinking along these lines.
Prophesies are a kind of negative thinking associated with predicting events in the future and getting worked up over them. Undeniably, these fortune tellers always opt for worse case scenarios and live their lives solely based on their predictions. Something like “I am not going to succeed’ or “I won’t be able to get it right”. The best coping mechanism is to keep reminding yourself that future events are unpredictable and things can go either way.
You may also download our challenging negative thoughts worksheet to overcome your negative thought.
In addition to specific solutions to each kind of negative thinking, generally, you can do many things to keep them at bay. Surrounding yourself with positive, optimistic, and supportive people can do wonders. Again, gratitude, affirmations, and meditation can increase positive energy in your body. When none of these are working, you may confront the problem head-on by asking yourself the reason for such negativity and persuade yourself to look at things from a different perspective.
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