Negative thoughts can affect your mindset in the long term and cause you to have a negative outlook on life. Learn how to identify and change this harmful pattern to bring more positivity into your world.
Negative thoughts are a natural part of life. However, if overused they can lead to a negative attitude and affect your life in the long run. Negative thoughts lead to depression or anxiety, so it is important to understand why we have them and how to adjust them.
It is our thoughts that shape our inner world and the world around us. We need to be mindful of our thoughts and not let them take control of us.
One of the most important things we can do to promote healthy thinking habits is to change how we talk to ourselves. Being mindful of the talk going on in our head allows us to catch those negative thoughts and turn them into positive ones.
Your mind is a powerful tool. It can do amazing things, but it’s also very delicate. If you don’t take time to be mindful of what goes on in your head, then you might not be aware when negative thoughts pop up. And if they come up often, that’s when it can lead to depression and anxiety.
Definition of Negative Thoughts
Negative thoughts are one of the leading causes of unhappiness. Most people don’t know how to stop this type of thinking and they end up repeating the same thought patterns, again and again, making them feel worse about themselves which only causes additional negative thinking.
Negative thoughts are usually criticism of yourself, allowing you to lose hope or standing in your way of self-improvement.
A common form of negative thinking is saying, “I can’t do this” or that something is “impossible.” For example:
- I can’t lose weight
- Feeling good about myself is impossible
- I can’t leave this dead-end job
- It’s impossible to be happy
What Happens When You Think Negatively?
The brain learns by making associations with other senses, feelings, and thoughts. The more we get exposed to negative thoughts, the stronger the association becomes. The more repetitive these thoughts become, the harder it is to move away from them.
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How Negative Thoughts Affect Mindset
Negative thoughts usually come from insecurities about yourself or things in your life, such as relationships, success, or happiness. As these thoughts become habitual they start affecting your mindset which leads you down a path of negativity, allowing you to begin feeling sorry for yourself.
There are methods that you can use to prevent these negative thoughts from entering your mind. Incorporate them into your day to help reverse negative thought patterns into positive ones.
1. Identify Flawed Thoughts
Faulty thoughts happen from time to time. However, it is crucial to recognize repeated patterns of faulty thoughts and try to avoid them. Common negative thought patterns include:
This is an all-or-nothing thought pattern, like when you see things in black or white, for or against, right or wrong. It is important to recognize this train of thought and think of a way to change your thoughts to see the gray areas in-between.
This occurs when you compare yourself to someone else and consider yourself inferior because of it. For instance, you may think that you have less intelligence just because you didn’t do as well on a test as someone else. But, there are other qualities that make you intelligent that are not measured by tests – such as creativity, empathy, and humor, for example.
By assuming negative future outcomes in your head, you are setting yourself up for failure and are unlikely to ever even try. As an example, you may really want to apply for a new position within your company, but you “just know you’ll never get it” so you don’t bother throwing your hat in the ring.
2. Promote Healthy Habits
When you do the same thing over and over, it becomes routine. Once you become accustomed to the behavior, a habit is formed. Negative thought patterns work the same way. The more you repeat the same way of thinking, the more likely you will be to keep thinking similarly in the future.
When you realize you are not living the life you want for yourself, it is time to make a change. You must recognize the negativity in your thinking in order to recondition your thoughts.
The ultimate goal would be to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. It will take hard work to overcome well-worn negative pathways in your brain. Follow this exercise when you find yourself thinking negatively:
1. Recognize when this thought pattern began.
2. Admit to yourself that you want to change this pattern.
3. Tell yourself what you want to be different.
4. Replace the negative with a positive thought that serves you.
This is a great way to learn about the connection between your thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Only then will you be able to gain control and live the life you deserve.
3. Seek Out Support
Counseling is an effective tool for dealing with certain thought behaviors. This type of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, focuses on the idea that our thoughts, behavior, and emotions are all linked.
CBT focuses on your present well-being, rather than dwelling only on past events. It helps show you how to challenge negative thoughts and behaviors.
Some common CBT strategies:
Exposure – Facing your fears to confront and move past apprehension and stress.
Mindfulness – Steady breathing while focusing on the present moment in time.
Situation training – Practicing certain skills through role-playing, modeling, and mock scenarios.
Guided discovery – Learning to see things from a different perspective, especially one you hadn’t considered.
Journaling – Keeping track of current negative thoughts as well as new thoughts and behaviors through writing.
Behavioral experiments – Predicting outcomes with catastrophic thinking to see how unlikely it is to happen.
You can now easily, conveniently, and affordably receive counseling with online therapy. Click here to learn more and see if it is right for you.
Negative thoughts stifle you from enjoying a life lived to the fullest. They keep you chained to self-doubt, fear, and anxiety. But with positive thoughts, it is possible to break the pattern and feel good about yourself. Positive thinking will lift your mood, boost your motivation, and encourage you to keep pushing on.
Reprogramming your brain to release negative thinking and focus on positive thoughts may be difficult in the beginning, but with some effort, a whole new world is waiting for you.
Resources to Change Negative Thinking
Are you stuck in a rut with negative thoughts for days, weeks, months, or even years? The Positive Mindset Toolkit is here with 8 different tools to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. With this kit, you’ll be able to start living the life you want full of positivity.
What if you could stop thinking about problems and begin to solve them instead? Eliminate Negative Thinking is a comprehensive set of actionable strategies and techniques that will help you stop negative overthinking and finally love yourself the way you deserve to be loved.