Negative thinking is a way of viewing the world that encourages us to assume that awful things will happen – and that we have no control over them.
This way of thinking has the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Because when we believe something bad is going to happen, we’re more likely to act in ways that make it happen, whether we like it or not.
Because when we believe something bad is going to happen, we are more likely to act in ways that will cause it to happen, whether we like it or not.
Negative thinking has an impact on our life and can result in:
- Anxiety and stress
- Problems with decision-making
- Poor self-esteem
- Trouble sleeping
- Headaches and other physical problems
- A traumatic event or series of events
It’s normal to have negative thoughts from time to time.
But if you’re stuck in a cycle of negative thinking, it can be tough to break free.
If your negative thoughts are affecting your quality of life, it’s time to take action.
Are you always expecting the worst? Do you make mountains out of molehills?
Once you identify your negative thought patterns, you can start to challenge them.
But to identify them, you must start to become aware of your negative thoughts.
Identifying Negative Thoughts:
The first step is to become aware of your negative thoughts.
Start paying attention to when you have negative thoughts and what those thoughts are about.
Work on recognizing and labeling cognitive distortions and negativity as you observe your negative thoughts.
Step 1#: Keep a journal as the first step.
You might want to keep a journal for a week or two, noting down your negative thoughts each day.
Step 2#: Challenge your negative thoughts.
Once you’ve identified your negative thoughts, it’s time to start challenging them.
For each negative thought, ask yourself:
- Is this really true?
- What evidence do I have for this?
- Is there another way to look at this situation?
For example, let’s say you have the thought, “I’m such a failure.”
Is that really true?
If it’s not, which it usually is not, you’ll soon start uncovering the deeper causes of your subconscious negative thinking. See also: How to reprogram your subconscious mind.
Understand the Causes of Negative Thinking
Negative thinking can be caused by a variety of factors.
It could be the result of childhood trauma or abuse, terrible experiences in the past, or simply the way you’re wired genetically.
It will be easier to deal with negative ideas if you can pinpoint the source of them.
How do you determine the cause?
It’s okay if you don’t know how to find the source on your own. A therapist can assist you in understanding and dealing with the sources of your negative thinking.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a sort of therapy that can be especially beneficial for dealing with negative thoughts.
You can begin to work on yourself once you’ve discovered the source of your negative thoughts.
14 Types of Negative Thought Patterns
For example, if you tend to view yourself as a success or failure in every situation, then you are engaging in “black-and-white” thinking. Other negative thinking patterns include:
There are different types of negative thoughts, each with their own effects on our lives.
- All-or-nothing thinking
This is when we see things in black and white, without any shades of grey. We believe that if we’re not perfect, we’ve failed.
This is when a person takes one negative event and assumes that it will always happen in every situation.
- Mental filtration
This is when a person only pays attention to the negative details of a situation and filters out the positive ones.
- Discounting the positive
This happens when we dismiss our own accomplishments or positive qualities, telling ourselves that they are not good enough.
- Jumping to Conclusions
Negative interpretations based on nothing but assumptions. ‘I have a swollen gland, therefore it must be cancer.’
- Mind Reading
Making negative interpretations of what others are thinking. ‘Everyone there regarded me to be stupid,’ I might say.
- Fortune Telling
Exacerbating the problem by expecting something bad to happen, and believing that your prediction is already a reality. ‘I’ll never be able to get a job, so I won’t bother,’ for example.
I’m such an idiot! I can’t believe I did that!’ It’s good to think positively, but it may be difficult to balance your desire for achievement with the fact that you’re human and make mistakes.
- Emotional Reasoning
Assuming that because you feel something, it must be true. ‘I feel like a total failure, so I must be one.’
- Should Statements
Beating yourself up with statements like ‘I should be able to do this without help from anyone else.
- Underestimating yourself
Underestimating the value of positive happenings or your own positive characteristics. ‘She appears to enjoy my company,’ you tell yourself, ‘but it’s simply because no one else is available.’
You persuade yourself with such phrases as, “should” and “must.” If you don’t succeed in performing everything to the letter, you become guilty and dejected. You feel annoyance, bitterness, and frustration if you direct these remarks at people.
You see yourself as responsible for some negative external events for which you were not at fault. Remember that you are solely accountable for your own thoughts and feelings; others are responsible for their own.
Identifying oneself with a negative term. ‘I’m a terrible human being,’ ‘I don’t deserve any better,’ and ‘I am ignorant, untrustworthy, and inferior’ are just a few examples. This happens when we dismiss our own accomplishments or positive qualities, telling ourselves that they are not good enough.
How to Stop Negative Thinking
It’s not an easy thing to stop negative thinking by yourself, but here are a few methods that are worth considering.
1. Be Conscious of Your Thoughts
The first step in changing your thinking is to become aware of your thoughts. Pay attention to when you’re having negative thoughts and what triggers them.
2. Examine Your Thoughts
After you’ve identified your negative thoughts, take a step back and try to look at the situation objectively. Are your thoughts really accurate? Are you exaggerating the situation?
3. Change Your Thoughts
Once you’ve challenged your negative thoughts, it’s time to start replacing them with positive ones. This may take some practice, but eventually, you’ll start thinking more positively automatically.
4. Practice Gratitude
In addition to replacing your negative thoughts, you may want to start doing gratitude practices to help you raise your vibration. See also: What is gratitude?
5. Don’t Take Everything Personally
One of the quickest ways to develop negative thinking patterns is to take everything personally. If something bad happens, we automatically assume it’s our fault somehow.
6. Accept That You’re Not Perfect
No one is perfect, and that includes you. Accepting this fact can help you to stop berating yourself for every little mistake.
7. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to end up feeling negative about yourself. Instead of looking at what everyone else has, focus on what you have and be grateful for that.
Negative thinking is a destructive force in our lives. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and a whole host of other problems.
If you find yourself falling into negative thinking patterns, there are things you can do to stop them. Pay attention to your thoughts, challenge them when necessary, and focus on the positive.
Seek professional help if needed.
What is the main cause of negative thinking?
There is no one single cause of negative thinking. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health conditions.
How can I stop negative thoughts from entering my mind?
You can’t always control what thoughts enter your mind, but you can control how you react to them.
What are some common types of negative thinking?
Some common types of negative thinking include rumination (repeating and dwelling on negative thoughts), catastrophizing (exaggerating the severity of a situation), and black-and-white thinking (seeing things as either good or bad with no middle ground).
Can negative thinking be harmful?
Yes, negative thinking can be harmful. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. It can also make it harder to cope with stress and manage day-to-day challenges.
How can I train my brain to be positive?
It’s possible to retrain your brain to become more optimistic and positive. Some ways to do this include practicing gratitude, focusing on positive thoughts and experiences, and challenging negative thought patterns.
How do I stop overthinking and anxiety?
There are several ways to stop overthinking and anxiety. Some techniques include mindfulness, relaxation, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
How do you clear your mind?
There are a few ways to clear your mind. Some methods include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises.
Negative thoughts can be incredibly harmful to our mental health. They can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. It can also make it harder to cope with stress and manage day-to-day.