On an average, we spend 80% of our time thinking negatively. We are more likely to remember negative events that’s happened in our lives than the positive ones. How often have you recalled positive thoughts or events on a daily basis? Negative thoughts keep us aware of potential danger and help us prepare for the worst case scenario.
Research has shown that negative emotions narrow our mind, focusing thoughts on the problem. Negative thoughts create tunnel vision preventing us from looking around at other possibilities. This is not always bad, for instance, if you are being chased by a tiger, your mind will point towards running, your sole purpose would be to survive however, If you’re being chased by daily fears, recurring thoughts and day-to-day hassles, surviving isn’t good enough.
This article does not focus on pessimistic and optimistic people. Negative thoughts affect an individual regardless of their personality types. An optimistic person also goes through a string of negative thoughts on a daily basis. However, they manage to avoid this tunneled vision, that is, they do not let negative emotions narrow their mind. It is also important to understand that not all people fall into these two categories of personality types. A majority of people do not consider themselves either pessimistic or optimistic.
Negative thoughts are often correlated with thoughts about future. When thoughts about the future flood our minds, “where will I stand in two years?” or “Which companies do I apply to after my Graduate School?”, negative thoughts start to cloud our perception. This is because we are uncertain about the future and this uncertainty leads to a string of negative thoughts. Our minds do not really help us in these situations because instead of focusing on the solution, our minds think about the worst scenarios which are probably not likely to happen. It is good to be prepared for the worst case scenario, but it is also very important to know that the worst case scenario is just a possibility and not the only outcome. At the end, no one has seen the future and the only way we can feel better is by trying to work on how to achieve the best possible outcome.
Different people deal with negative thoughts differently, some use repression, some channel their thoughts towards something more productive ( playing a sport) and others rely on Rationalization (removing the emotional content from the memory).
Why Think Positive?
Negative thoughts encourage more negative thoughts, causing a ripple effect. It affects not just your mood but your overall health and your ability to make decisions. Positive thoughts often helps us find solutions, plan and be prepared. Some people may argue that thinking positive ain’t rational, that they can give you an unrealistic view of a problem. Yes, being too optimistic is not a solution to a problem, but trying to see the positive aspects is your best bet in these situations.
We cannot completely be rid of negative thoughts, instead, deal with them head on! If you are wondering what thinking positive is like… Rather than focusing on ‘why I might not get the job’, focus on ‘how I can do well and what strategies can I use to better myself’. Losing in a job interview shouldn’t make us question our worthiness but should motivate us to focus on what we learnt and what our next step should be.
Looking at your future more positively is easier said than done. It’s not a skill you learn overnight, it requires patience and lot of focus. Meditation and Mindfulness has known to work, but just thinking about one good thought about your future and repeating it in your mind is perhaps a good start. Taking small steps is the key towards success. That’s one positive thought to get you started!
Willingness.com.mt. (2018). Dealing with repetitive negative thoughts – Willingness. [online] Available at: http://willingness.com.mt/dealing-with-repetitive-negative-thoughts/ [Accessed 25 Mar. 2018]. (Featured image)
Sandrini, M. (2018). How to stop negative thoughts from taking over your future –. [online] Time Zillionaire. Available at: https://www.timezillionaire.com/stop-negative-thoughts/ [Accessed 25 Mar. 2018].