Negative thoughts can be detrimental to your life. Negative thinking is not easy to control as we are usually receptive to our outside world and what is going on around us. Let’s face it, what is happening around us in our environment and the world is usually perceived as negativity.

Constant negative thinking prevents you from living a happy and contented life. Anyone who fails to recognize that negative thoughts control your actions and bring about your results will continue to live in a cycle of habitual negative thinking and in return attracting to themselves more negative circumstances to feel negative about.

What causes negative thinking?

Negative thinking is caused by stress, and it does go the other way around too. In a sense, as even negative thinking causes stress, this creates a loop that keeps each other alive. And that’s how it becomes of utmost importance to overcome negative thinking.

Overthinking can also give rise to negative thoughts, as in the case of overthinking when the facts aren’t clear or insufficient, then the assumptions start. And assumptions could be negative too.

Other important factors that cause negative thinking includes:

  1. Financial instability
  2. Social response which you get. Could be both from you acquaintances, relationships, colleagues and generally from those with whom you interact.
  3. Lack of self confidence.
  4. Haunting past negativity.
  5. Low self esteem. etc.

AUTOMATIC NEGATIVE THOUGHTS – THEIR CAUSE AND EFFECT

Whilst there is an abundance of books courses and literature on positive thinking and being positive little or none exists on negative thinking or being negative. Why is this?

It would seem automatic negative thoughts are accepted as being normal and a part of the human condition whereas automatic positive thoughts are not.

negative thoughts
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What are automatic negative thoughts?

These are thoughts that seem to arise spontaneously and as if by magic triggered in a whole variety of situations. Their nature is normally to negate or put down a person’s self-esteem

Automatic negative thoughts that psychologically have been listed or categorized are as follows:

All-or-Nothing Thinking

i.e. everything is either black or white so there is no shade of grey. A person may think that there is no point in attempting a task unless they can do it perfectly. It either has to be perfect or not at all. There is no middle ground.

Magnifying/Min:  

In a situation a person will dwell on any negative aspect of it and ignore or minimalize any positives there may be.

Overgeneralization:

Forming a general conclusion based on something that may have only happened once or twice before. e.g.” I always get things wrong” “I never get things right” etc

Should and Ought statements:

These are usually used to put the self down producing guilt feelings or feelings of self-anger e.g.” I should have done better” “I ought to have done better”

Personalization:

This occurs when a person automatically concludes that a negative event was caused by them or they are the object of such event e.g. a wife’s husband may seem cool or distant and she automatically assumes that she is the reason or his coolness is aimed at her. In reality, he is worrying over a work-related problem.

Catastrophizing:

automatic negative thoughts that something disastrous will happen usually starting with “what if” statements. e.g. a person notices a small spot on their leg. The negative thinking starts “what if it’s not just a spot” leading rapidly to them imagining their own demise.

What is the cause of automatic negative thoughts?

In early and mid-childhood a person builds up the core idea or belief as to who they are in relation to the external world and environment. This core belief then forms their perspective on how they will view situations and experiences. Thoughts are inner self-talk or inner words. Much of the inner negative self-talk is the internalization of negative words received from the external world during this phase of development. The external world in this instance being mainly parents teachers siblings and other authority figures. A simple example is that of a child who makes mistakes (as all children do) but is often told that he is stupid for doing so. He will incorporate this word into his belief about himself. As an adult when he makes a mistake the negative thought “I am stupid” is automatically generated.

What are the effects of negative thoughts?

For the majority of people, they are seen for what they are and quickly released. For some people, particularly for those that had a more traumatic childhood; these can have a toxic effect in adulthood. They can lead to depression, dementia, physical illness and in extreme circumstances to suicide. In such cases, it is essential that professional therapeutic help is sought.

In less extreme cases the good news is that the way we think can be controlled just as effectively as the way we choose our words can be controlled.

How to overcome negative thinking?

Turning Negative Thinking Into Positive Goal Setting

Setting goals is an important part of my work with clients.

By sharing the goal development process with a therapist, or even a close friend if you don’t work with a therapist, can serve a few valuable purposes…there is someone with you to bear witness to your announcement and commitment to change. I find that many of my clients are more motivated to follow through when they have someone cheering them on from the sidelines.

When you look at the world through a negative lens, missions and goals may seem incredibly foreign. Many of my clients describe a feeling of being overwhelmed by their depression and are unable to see a more hopeful future.

Part of this approach involves “thinking about your thinking“… the meta-thinking, and addressing self-defeating automatic thoughts and beliefs.

Running

What are your negative thoughts examples?

This blog post is focused on standing up to the “I don’t care”/loss of energy/forward motion which often goes hand in hand with depression.

Negative thoughts, such as “I am worthless/No one cares for me/I can’t move forward/I can’t get through this/I am useless/I can’t stand to live like this” suggest that you are indeed stuck in the depressive web forever. Flip this thinking on its head and you can extract a positive goal:

1. I am stuck —> I am capable of moving forward, even if it’s just the smallest, tiniest bit.

2. No one cares for me —> Find exceptions to this statement…Someone doe care for you. (this can be an animal if it’s not a human…or someone who is not necessarily closes by.)

3. I can’t get through this —> Question hopeless broad assumptions. Think of instances in which you have moved forward despite difficult circumstances.

4. I can’t stand to feel like this —> I can focus on feeling better as a first step.

Take some time to record your depressive thoughts (like the examples above) in a notebook…and take a look at how these thoughts affect how you feel. Whenever possible, try to turn the negative statements upside down and focus on more positive statements which can help disrupt depression.

Meditation

Meditation is great for calming the mind and is also beneficial to your physical wellbeing and health with practice on a daily basis. Meditation is a great energy booster and can melt away negative thinking with daily practice. The Silva Method is a great meditation system that has guided meditation sessions that you are taking step by step a great tool to get started.

Gratitude

Gratitude is one of the highest mental states of vibration you can achieve; you can find something to be grateful for no matter how bad a situation may be. Being grateful for a thing is sending out great positive energy and in return inviting more blessings upon you. There is tremendous power in gratitude. Rhonda Byrne creator of The Secret has dedicated a whole book on the subject called The Magic (The Secret)

Make it a daily habit of writing down 10 things you are truly grateful for especially when you feel down or have doubts about a situation or if you are having negative thoughts.

Positive Thinking People.

Negative thinking can be quickly diminished if you have great positive thinking friends. Surround yourself with optimists and people who are ambitious. Call up a friend who makes you laugh.

If you are lacking in friends there’s always Facebook. Join a group and join in the conversation there are many groups you can find on Facebook where you can find inspiration and a lot of positive self-help groups. On my page, you will find Inspirational content to improve your life. Why not join me!

Move forward and do not waste your time in dwelling on your past mistakes. We often dwell on things that have gone wrong in our lives but we can turn those ‘mistakes’ into lessons.

For example what did you learn from the situation?

How can you do things better next time?

Bottom line is this, negative thinking can really get you down and affect your outcomes in life. Use the tips and you will begin to see improvements day by day, it may not happen overnight but a continuous effort to think in a more positive way will improve your life.