Do you possess a sense of impending doom, even when opportunities present themselves as positive? If you are suffering from a critical perspective, you may need to change your negative thinking.
The power of negative thinking can have a significant impact on your neurological functions. Negative thought patterns that plague your mind can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, a weakened immune system, and can hinder your brain’s ability to solve problems.
You can learn how to change negative thinking through Cognitive Restructuring. Cognitive Restructuring embraces the principle that ‘we can change the way we feel by changing the way we think.’
1. What Causes Negative Thinking?
Negative thoughts can stem from poor or eroding physical, spiritual, and mental health. If you are not taking proper care of yourself, you can become susceptible to fatigue, irritability, depression, anxiety, and everyday illnesses like the common cold.
When your mind and body are worn out, it can become challenging to understand the root cause of your suffering. You then build beliefs based on the way you are feeling and create a negative narrative because inside, you are not feeling positive or joyful.
Another source of your hostility can come from unresolved, rational (or irrational) fears. When we adopt a negative mindset, we are trying to protect ourselves from a perceived threat by preparing for the worst.
As humans, we have evolved to detect threats that keep us out of danger. “Our brains are pre-wired to respond to negative thoughts and feelings more quickly.”
However, assuming that most things in your life carry a threat, you begin to develop entrenched patterns where you cannot imagine it any other way. Your mind automatically defaults to negativity as a protective mechanism.
Always feeling like you are under attack by dark forces will undoubtedly take a toll on not only your mental health but your physical health as well.
The next time negative thoughts pass through your mind, try to pause and consider where exactly this is coming from and why. One acronym that may be useful in identifying negative thought triggers is HALT.
HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. When a menacing thought comes over you, you can use the HALT acronym to determine if your basic needs are being met.
Pinpointing the source of your negativity will take patience and self-awareness. But discovering why you default to specific thought patterns is essential in creating a foundation for change.
2. The Trap Of Negative Thought Patterns
If you want to learn how to change your thinking habits, you will need to escape from the web of destructive patterns that you have crafted in your psyche. Subconsciously, you most likely default to certain behaviors to cope with unpleasant emotions or during times of stress.
A list of negative thought patterns can include:
Black and white thinking: you tend to view matters in extremes. This behavior also refers to ‘all or nothing thinking.’
Abusive self-talk: naming-calling or labeling yourself with derogatory terms.
Discrediting the positives: You may have strong math skills but are weaker in writing. But you consider yourself a ‘failure’ in school because you find a particular subject challenging.
‘Crystal-ball gazing:’ You view the future as one that will have adverse outcomes.
You regularly anticipate disasters: One misstep leads you down a rabbit hole of catastrophe.
Irrationality: Your emotional reaction is not an appropriate fit for the current situation.
Another common pitfall is your inability to remain in the present moment. You can assume what the future might hold but, as a negative person with spiraling thoughts, that will only send you on a tailspin.
Your desire for control may also keep you trapped within your negative thoughts. By assuming that things will go wrong, your mind does not need to deal with the unknown, even if it could be affirmative.
By placing yourself in a bad situation, you can formulate a reality by which you can relate. Obviously, this is not logical or healthy, but if an uncertain outcome makes you anxious, constructing an alternative existence can at least give you something to grasp.
The only problem is that what you are grasping is hurting you and keeping you trapped.
3. Breaking Negative Thinking Patterns
What if all that you had believed about your thinking patterns turned out to be false? One effective method in freeing yourself from a defeatist attitude is to understand that negative thinking serves no real purpose.
In the book ‘The Positive Power of Negative Thinking,’ author Julie K. Norem Ph.D. conducted research studies, comparing strategic optimists and defensive pessimists. While both work styles are extreme examples, one study showed that both were able to achieve similar results.
Aside from their approach, what was the main difference between them? The defensive pessimists suffered from higher anxiety and lower self-confidence in their ability.
Cognitive exercises can help to put matters in perspective by slowing down the thought process.
Make a to-do list; prioritize what is essential by jotting tasks down.
Become more aware; use tools such as meditation and breathwork to maintain your mind within the present moment.
Respond versus react; give yourself a moment to consider a situation before you choose to judge it.
Take small steps towards action, allowing palatable doses of productivity can to avoid the impending doom of procrastinating.
Consider the source of your feelings; are they based on facts or beliefs created by your mind?
Similar to the HALT method, these mental practices can free you from your thoughts by creating awareness about what is around you.
We invite you to free your mind from the burden of stress and open yourself up to a new kind of perception. In theory, that sounds simple enough, but it does require the dismantling of thought patterns that are most likely, entrenched in your psyche.
Through conscious awareness and willingness, it is possible to reprogram your thinking from negative to positive. Embrace the power of positivity and change your negative thinking.