The world seems to be made of three types of people: those who think that nothing is possible, those who think that nothing is impossible, and those who move from one end of the spectrum to another.
The only difference between them is not their circumstances but their way of thinking – what we call their mindset. The problem of course happens when a balanced and emotionally healthy person is chronically negative – and not because of tragedy, depression or mental illness.
The chronic negative thinker is one of the kind. He has developed the habit of searching for all the possible bad in the world, and he feels that positive people are naive or even not smart enough. Because he thinks negatively, he expects pain, frustration and problems – and he gets them all the time, proving his theory that life stinks.
Surprisingly, you will find that usually a negative thinker is not a person with a serious and painful condition, or who has been through some huge disasters, war, murder etc. – the circumstances don’t seem to be the culprit. It’s what’s going on inside such a person that triggers the tsunami of complaints.
How can you tell if someone is a bit too negative? Here are a few indicators.
He might think that he is not able to change his job because his skills are not good enough. He can never get a promotion. He won’t date anyone because he bets he will be hurt again and all the possible partners out there are out to take advantage of his good heart. He won’t even try to lose weight or become fit because he tried before and it just didn’t work, so why bother? He will also discourage you from doing anything new or exciting, warning you will get hurt just like him, and that you are not good enough to qualify for such a great promotion or relationship.
And if a friend or colleague suggests a solution to the problems that make his life so miserable, the chronic negative person will instantly find 15 reasons why that solution cannot work in his particular case. In fact, he has spent most of his nights listing them all and just being miserable about the horrible state of the world.
You see, he thinks he is an exception to any solution you might suggest and as such, he doesn’t have to try anything new – just leave him alone in his dark cloud. His destiny is to suffer! He was born like that, he can never change anything and nobody can help him. And when he sees you dancing or singing or blissfully happy, he might raise his eyebrow as if he were thinking, ‘How dare you being happy when I am destined to such a miserable life?’
Deep inside he is actually thinking that love, success, health, friendships and joy are not available to him.
To some degree these traits are incredibly common in internet trolls, bullies, some types of criminals, and – guess – to all of us ‘normal’ people.
In fact you will notice that most of us might have an hour or a day, even a week when we see everything black, because everything is going wrong, but we then somehow bounce back, fight back, and take action to change our path. Again, let me stress that I am not talking about clinical depression or mental illness cases.
It’s worth noting that when we keep thinking in a negative way day after day, week after week, without anything really bad going on in our lives, we have a problem. And the problem is that our mind believes everything we tell it to do, and thus we get what we focus on. The universe retributes us with the same vibes we spread.
It is important to know that negative thinking may increase our risk for Alzheimer’s disease, as researchers have found out at a study at King’s College London. The study found that a habit of prolonged negative thinking diminishes your brain’s ability to think, reason, and form memories. It also increases the risk of dementia.
It’s therefore worth deepening our knowledge about the mechanism of chronic negative thinking patterns.
Let’s see first what is happening when you are stuck in a cycle of negative words and images.
- You are thinking in loops, usually ending up in the same way, ‘there is no point…’
- You might feel resentment towards some person or event which has caused you a loss or pain in the past. This emotion can be visible when you easily cry, or become angry, or flee any situation that might repeat the same pain.
- You find it really hard to focus on the positive, to compliment yourself or others, to give and receive praise.
- Meanwhile your mind is learning by repetition that every time you press a certain button, you trigger a negative emotion. This process works just like creating a new path in the middle of the forest. If you keep going over it again and again, the path will be easy to reach, and that’s where your thoughts will go every time you mention that particular topic. The neurones in your brain are now wired together and will fire together. You are now stuck in your thinking. Your brain has literally been shaped by your habit of thinking.
- You might not have a very high self esteem. You think you are not lucky, nobody likes you, you are not good enough, or lovable. You might have been mocked or teased some years ago or raised with not enough affection.
Is there any hope to snap out of chronic negative thinking? Of course there is.
And if you are thinking of transforming your life, improving your levels of fitness, happiness, or success, you can certainly start from the way you think about life.
Now if you are suffering from depression, which causes negative thinking, my suggestion is to seek help from a good therapist so you can work at all levels and be guided towards complete healing.
For all the others, let’s read what Joe Dispenza said about the way we think.
‘Reason this: When you think from your past memories, you can only create past experiences. As all of the “knowns” in your life cause your brain to think and feel in familiar ways, thus creating knowable outcomes, you continually reaffirm your life as you know it. And since your brain is equal to your environment, then each morning, your senses plug you into the same reality and initiate the same stream of consciousness.’
Therefore we need to be in the present in able to start thinking positive, and this must become a new habit, with a new thinking that can visualises you reaching your full potential, now, in this life.
‘And can you teach your body emotionally what it would feel like to believe in this way, to be empowered, to be moved by your own greatness, to be invincible, to have courage, to be in love with life, to feel unlimited, to live as if your prayers are already answered?’ ― Joe Dispenza, You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter
“If you want a new outcome, you will have to break the habit of being yourself, and reinvent a new self.”
Guys, it is up to us and we can do this! Have you ever heard of a strategy called Notice, shift, rewire? Well now you have! It is based on three steps: notice, shift, rewire. Think of them as a GPS that tells you you are going in the wrong direction…
- Notice that you are thinking in a negative way. Become aware of that feeling of fear, anxiety, self-doubt. Notice how your mind is now showing you apocalyptic images of worst-case scenarios.
- Thank your mind for trying to protect you and then shift to gratitude. Move your focus from the bad emotion to a good one. What is going well for you today? Are you able to walk? Do you have a loving person to hug? Are you going to give some service and make someone happy? Even noticing a happy bird flying around a tree nearby can shift your focus. Let go of that dark cloud!
- Rewire your brain. Think about positive things for 30 seconds. By focusing on something positive for longer than negative you are carving a new neural pathway in your brain.
This process can also be remembered as: pay attention, replace the negative thought with a positive one, hold the good one in your mind for a minute.
Whichever works for you, try it today! Try it for a week and see what happens – and let others know you are trying!
When your GPS discovers that your car is moving towards the wrong location, it will prompt you to take a diversion or even do a U turn. When we make a conscious effort to recognise these negative vibes and turn them into positive ones, we are literally doing a U turn of our life.
Other strategies that might help you in the long run are:
- Take a walk in nature for at least a couple of hours every time you can. Ruminative thinking decreases when we are immersed in the natural world.
- Practice meditation – just focus on your breathing, or on one object in your room.
- Listen to an inspirational song and sing along those positive words! It’s incredibly hard to be negative when you are singing a happy song.
- Act as if – pretend that the day is over and you are celebrating a good, happy time. What happened to make it so perfect? What can you do now to make it happen?
- List 5 things you are grateful for or say thank you to someone who has done something for you.
- Find a mentor, a friend, a coach or an expert to help you get unstuck about the problem that is ruining your happiness levels.
- Speak kindly to yourself. Don’t stand in front of the mirror staring with a magnifier’s glass at all your imperfections. Nobody is perfect. Nobody has the perfect body/marriage/job/easy life. It’s a myth.
- Decrease the time spent browsing the social media with no aim. Studies are now connecting more and more the level of depression, negative thinking and even suicidal thinking with the exposure to the internet, especially in young people.
- Surround yourself with or read about people who are more positive, who have overcome challenges and are inspirational. Their vibes will lift you up.
- Search for opportunities to give time to others. Pick a service project! Maybe you can volunteer for a charity, you can read books to the blind, chat with old people who feel lonely, knit for the premature babies in your hospital, help teens to read… it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you reach to others. Chances are that when you are immersed in the environment of another person, and you try to help, you will set aside those dark thoughts and find more joy. One website that helps you to locate service projects in your area is called www.justserve.org.
Another quick tip is this – When you catch yourself thinking that you can only be happy when something specific happen, stop yourself! You can be happy now. Happiness is about what you are inside, not what happens outside of your mind.
Examples: I will only be happy when…
- My body will be not so curvy/thin/ugly
- I will score 4 goals in the game
- I will get good test results
- My dad will give me a tenner
- My boyfriend will move in with me
- I will have a pet
- I will have my own house
- I will earn X amount per month
- I will have a baby
- My children will leave home
Moving the goal post doesn’t help. Be happy and grateful now for what you have already – and it’s usually a lot!
Decide now to live in the present so you can build a beautiful future. Leave the past behind you. Forgive, move on and look at your past challenges as invitations to grow. My friends, I want you to know that each of you is a brilliant, lovable, capable human being. You have a reason for being here on Earth today. You can find your mission and purpose and shine your light.
Every day is a new beginning! You can do this! You are loved, and you are enough!
Thanks for being with me today. I would love to hear how things are working for you after practicing positive thinking for a week!
In the next article we are going to talk about Building up your confidence after being knocked down.
I’ll catch you soon!