Negative thinking is capable of penetrating the healthiest of minds. It knows no allies or friends. While it may be fostered in the mind of an individual; it can become a pandemic. It is like a virus that can spread without warning or probable cause. Negative people are often broken and desperate people. They tend to lose sight of their personal aspirations, goals, ambitions and personal drive. They may blame others for their way of thinking. Negative people are not negative all the time, nor are all positive people positive all the time. For all of us have experienced bouts of negativity, hopelessness and despair.
“Our brains are hard-wired to focus on the negative.” From an evolutionary standpoint, our brains were designed to give more attention to the negative than to the positive. We developed this way of thinking to safeguard our families, homes, and communities. Not unlike other animals, the development of this highly perceptive and adaptive mindset was designed to protect us from danger and to bring awareness to our environment.
While we have developed an inherent “gut feeling” or instinct; we are not nearly as aware of our environment as other species. Unlike other animals, humans have either lost touch with this sixth sense, or we never fully developed it in the first place. Now you may be asking yourself, “how does this sixth sense correlate to negative thinking”? Negative thinking begins as a source of protection. It may be a cautionary warning or an alert of danger. As an example, if I burn my hand while reaching into an oven for a pan; the next time I may be more apprehensive and cautious when trying to retrieve a pan. Negative thinking is often disguised as constructive thinking. “I am not pessimistic; I am a realist.” Constructive thinking is a way of brainstorming for something to improve my life. Negative thinking does the opposite, by telling you that you will never successfully climb that hill.
It is difficult to distinguish between negative and constructive thinking. They are both related to our biopsychosocial. It can be a learned behavior and influenced by those closest to us.
At the heart of negative thinking is a protective element. While negative thinking often begins as constructive or apprehensive thoughts; it develops into a super critical and angry form. It transitions from a protective way of thinking into a hostile, vile, and cynical take on life. The negative thoughts are almost assuredly self-defeating and pessimistic in nature.
Not all thinking is an evolutionary protector. As humans, we have a twisted gift of gossip; bitterness; envy; pride; and a knack at belittling. The belittling may include self-defeating statements, name-calling, discouraging thoughts, and other self-limiting statements. Negative thinkers do not all project their thoughts. Negative thinking may be a product of the internal. Caregivers are often the catalyst of negative thinking. They instill a personal way of thinking onto the lives of their children.
Negative thinking can have a dire affect upon your sleep. If you are sleep deprived, you may have trouble rooting out negative thoughts from your mind. Sleep deprivation can cause a variety of mental and physical health issues. The CDC has reported that one-in-three individuals are sleep deprived. Chronic sleep deprivation can increase your chances of being or feeling negative.
Chronic health conditions may be a stimulus for negative thinking. When we are struggling with a major chronic health condition, our perceptions become skewed and exaggerated. For many with chronic health, the loss of independence can feel stifling. You may feel that the loss of independence and dependence upon others is a reflection of your own person. Many who are struggling develop anxiety, depression and other related mental health conditions. Chronic health issues can consume a person. Often, clouding the judgements and perceptions of individuals.
Negative thinking may be a result of repetitive, abusive and traumatic events. It may be a safeguard to protecting an individual from harm. Being traumatized can affect a person in a variety of ways. Organically, traumatic experiences can change the overall structure of the brain, thus the way we think may be altered through such experiences.
PREVENTING NEGATIVE THINKING
The encouraging news is that there are methods with which an individual can learn to become less negative and prevent such thinking.
- Be Purposeful
Do not empower your thoughts by giving them leverage in your life. Be aware of your current state. Are you coping or managing a chronic health condition? Are you struggling with issues of your past? Are you feeling tired, hungry, or is there something else going on? It is important to understand that fighting your thoughts rarely works. It’s important to shift your thoughts onto a different message.
Refrain from fighting the thoughts and refocus your mind. Let your internal message become: “I am well aware of my negative thoughts; they are simply stories that I am telling myself and they are not true; and I deserve better than this internal dialogue.”
- Surround yourself with Positive People
Would you like to become positive? If so, you must surround yourself with positive people and limit the time you spend with negative people.
- Positive Conversations
Why do you entertain negative conversations? Avoid conversations that are not uplifting, motivating, and capable of inspiring you. When we engage negative communications; we are internally transposing those negative communications into our own language. Deny room for negative attitudes, perceptions, and thoughts. What is at the heart of your language?
- Be Aware of Your Triggers
For many, the triggers are often masked. Negative thinking is often the catalyst of something that has developed or occurred in our own lives. Being aware of your triggers is extremely important in combating negative thinking.
- Develop a Daily Routine
Like any athlete, you must develop a daily routine of fitness. It’s about your daily intake. What messages are you entertaining? What fitness routine have you implemented to combat negative thinking?
- Create a List of Affirmations
Believe it or not, we have all created a stockpile of affirmations. My affirmations may tell me that I am an incredible dancer, or they may tell me that I have two left feet. Affirmations may be positive or negative. The good news is that we can change the message. If I desire to become an incredible dancer, then I must believe that I am capable of learning how to dance. I must develop a message that reflects my desire and ability to dance. “I am capable and I have it within me to become an incredible dancer.”
- Develop a Mindful Attitude
Mindfulness should include breathing exercises that focus on your mind, body, and emotional state. I cannot emphasize enough the need to employ a daily routine of breathing and meditation. If done correctly, a daily routine of breathing and meditation can help you clear your mind of negativity. If practiced daily, the process will become an inherent part of your being.
Dr. Asa Don Brown is one of the most sought-after speakers in the world today. Whether it’s learning how to recover from the effects of trauma or learning to live an effective life, Dr. Brown has an array of speech topics that can cater to your organization or company’s needs.
As a clinician, Dr. Brown found that if you want to genuinely reach people; you must reach them through positive communication, interaction, energy and leadership. asadonbrown.com