The Power Of Negative Thinking And How To Reverse It
By Marie Miguel
Updated February 10, 2020
Reviewer Judson Haynes
When we think negative thoughts on a regular basis, we are wiring our brain to think that these negative thoughts are reality. Just like any habit, the more you do it; the more it becomes part of your everyday routine. Repeating negative thoughts over and over in your mind is also referred to as rumination or perseverative thinking.
Outcomes of Negative Thinking
*Effects on the Brain: Memory is disrupted. Processing of information is slowed. The Amygdala, which controls the fight or flight response, becomes unregulated. When a stressful situation occurs, the Amygdala cannot differentiate whether it is a life or death situation or an annoyance situation. The outcome is then an overreaction to any stressful situation whether it is a small annoyance or an actual traumatic occurrence. This could result in a dangerous situation or an inability to deal with any type of stress.
*Depression: Depression does not just have an effect on your mind, it can also have damaging physical results; ongoing joint pain, arm/leg pain, and appetite changes. Sleep is often disrupted. Your immune function is decreased. Left untreated, depression can lead to or worsen other mood disorders.
*Loneliness: If someone is thought of as a constant negative thinker, they may not have a huge circle of friends. Most people want to steer clear of negativity and find friends who lift them up not drag them down. This loneliness can also add to feelings of depression.
*Job Instability: People who are negative thinkers may not want to try hard at work or may give up because they think there is no way to solve a problem. Employers want people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get a job done so a negative mindset will not be a marketable skill. This may show through as early as an interview so it may be hard for those negative thinkers to get any type of skilled position.
*Relationship Issues: Individuals want a life partner who is there for them and who they can talk to and get feedback from. They want someone who is a shoulder to lean on, a cheerleader and a problem solver. If someone has acquired a negative mindset, it will be hard to endure a long-term relationship because issues are bound to pop up, and you need to be able to see someone else's side or look for productive ways to help the other person resolve their issue.
*Bodily Consequences: With negativity comes a decrease in energy. Thinking one's appearance is less appealing may affect how one cares about themselves, not giving care to physical appearance. A radical negative sensitivity can also lead to an eating issue; ranging from not eating enough to extreme overeating.
This isn't to say that everyone doesn't have some negative thoughts or feelings throughout their life. No one goes through life with only positive, happy thoughts. It is when negative thinking is constant, long-term, and repetitive that problems may occur.
The brain may have been wired to think negative thoughts so that means it can be rewired to think positive thoughts. A habit takes about 21 days to be ingrained, so doing some of the following tasks may have you on your way to positive thinking in 3 weeks.
*Gratitude Journal: Writing 3-5 things you are grateful for every day can give you an enormous positive boost. It doesn't have to be anything huge or earth-shattering. As a matter of fact, writing about the little things can have a bigger influence on your everyday attitude because it's those little things that add up to the big things in life. In order to be motivated to do this every day, buy yourself a journal just for this purpose. It can be a notebook, a special journal or an app on your phone. Just make sure to do it every day to get the best outcome.
*Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you to track your thought patterns. It can also open up your mind to why you have the thoughts that you have. You can do free writing or buy a journal that has prompts for you to think about then write about. Writing and re-reading your thoughts can help you to express yourself and perhaps break your cycle of negative thinking.
*Random Acts of Kindness: If you search online, you can find a plethora of kindness type challenges. They usually come in the form of a calendar that lists a random act of kindness that you can do each day. They don't have to be huge deeds. Like the gratitude journal, the little things are the things that can have the biggest impact. These kind acts will return themselves as good karma in your life.
*Books to Read:
-Self-Talk: How to Train Your Brain to Turn Negative Thinking Into Positive Thinking & Practice Self Love, authored by Aston Sanderson
-Beyond Positive Thinking: A No-Nonsense Formula for Getting the
Results You Want, authored by Dr. Robert Anthony
-Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, by Napoleon Hill
-Everyday Positive Thinking, authored by Louise Hay
-The Power of Positive Energy: Powerful Thinking, Powerful Life: 9 Powerful Ways for Self-Improvement, Increasing Self-Esteem & Gaining Positive Energy, Motivation, Forgiveness, Happiness, and Peace of Mind, authored by Andrian Teodoro
-The Power of Positive Thinking, authored by Norman Vincent Peale
-The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, authored by Don Miguel Ruiz
-Positive Thinking: The Most Efficient Guide to Positive Thinking, Overcoming Negativity and Finding Success and Happiness, authored by Jack Morris
*Konmari your Friends: If you haven't heard about the Konmari method, it comes for the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
Basically, this method has you hold up items that you own and ask yourself, "Does this bring me joy?" If it doesn't, you get rid of it. As far as your friends go, if they are not bringing you joy, then you may want to break ties with them. You are influenced by those who are around you, so you want to have positive, uplifting, supportive people in your closest circles.
*Meditation: Meditation doesn't have to be a long process. Even 5 minutes of meditation can be good for your soul and mindset. In meditation, it is not about controlling your thoughts so that you are thinking of nothing; it is about not letting your thoughts control you. There are many podcasts and apps that can help you focus on being present. After you meditate, you will feel lighter and more positive. Start the day with this routine, and you will be able to face anything that comes your way.
*Spirituality: Spirituality can come in different forms. Some people may feel a strong pull towards specific organized religion. Others may feel a connection to a higher power that isn't "God." None of these alternatives is the right choice or the wrong choice. Having a spiritual custom gives many people a belief in something bigger than themselves that they can rely on and turn to in moments of sadness, suffering, hardship or difficulty. It puts many people in a positive frame of mind where they feel that can deal with any situation that arises.
*Breathing Techniques: Breathing exercises can reduce your heart rate, which can make you less anxious and tense. When you reduce anxiety and tension, you have a more positive state of mind. Specific breathing techniques will help you stay at the moment and reduce worry so that you can deal with the current situation.
*Yoga: We are put on this Earth to be balanced and productive beings. When negative thoughts continuously enter our minds, they make us unbalanced. Our physical bodies can become unbalance also. When you enter a yoga practice, you are balancing your body and your mind. When you practice yoga, you are encouraged to stay in the present moment and to think about why you are there and what you want to get out of that practice at that time. Entering into a yoga routine will have a calming, contented effect on all participants.
*Replace Negative Thoughts: If you can't get rid of all negative thoughts, try replacing them with a positive thought. When a negative thought pops us, stop yourself and replace that thought with something positive. For instance, if you have a large job to do, instead of saying, "I'll never finish this," say, "I will break this down into smaller pieces and get it done."
If you have a pattern of negative thinking that you feel is not manageable by any of the above techniques, you should contact a trained professional to assist you. Going to BetterHelp (https://www.betterhelp.com/start/) can be your first step to getting the help you need.