NEGATIVE THINKING STYLE – No. 1 of a series of brief articles looking at the unhelpful thinking styles that form part of our your mindset.
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What is a negative thinking style?
Anybody who always focuses on the ‘bad things’, always assumes things will go wrong and assumes they will fail, is a negative thinker.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that negative thinkers, who have negative expectations, don’t share the same successes in life. They don’t experience the same levels of ‘happiness’ and often have poorer health, than those with a positive mindset.
Of course, sometimes being negative is not a problem, we all do it from time to time. Negative thinkers are the ‘ glass half empty’ people we all know. Their glass is always half empty – ‘it won’t work’, ‘I can’t find love’, ‘it’s bound to get worse’ . Being this negative is harmful and exhausting.
Why be negative?
Well, firstly, if I don’t expect good things to happen I won’t be too disappointed when they don’t . I like to be proved right (who likes being wrong?), so at least I can say “Told you!”.
Negative thinking almost always goes hand in hand with Social Anxiety. Before I knew how to Thrive I would become very anxious if I had to attend a social event. I ‘knew’ it wouldn’t be fun, nobody would talk to me and I would be bored. (Pretty negative!). I would approach the party with a scowl, sit in the darkest corner, and become absorbed in something. I was ‘saying’ leave me alone, don’t talk to me and I was not approachable. People avoided me and left me to ‘stew in my own juice’, making the event as bad as I’d predicted.
This negative thinking can become a habit as mine did.
Are there any advantages to negative thinking?
I am struggling to think of any advantages but there are reasons/excuses.
- Protection against the pain of failure or rejection (“She would’nt go out with me”)
- I don’t deserve success/love/happiness
- As I expect to fail it’s not really my responsibility when I do
A negative thinking style, however, offers no real protection whatsoever. You are actually inviting negative outcomes and setting yourself up for unhappiness. It is simply not true that some people don’t deserve to be happy, it is just necessary to find your way.
The opposite of negative is, of course, positive. Start spotting your negative thoughts and find a way to express them in a more positive way. We all have times when things aren’t going as we would like but why not ‘play them down’ rather than’ build them up.’
Look for positives in every situation, no matter how negative the situation may seem. Even unpleasant experiences, upsets, or traumas, can have some positive aspects if you just look for them.
A good friend of mine was badly beaten up when he stepped in to stop some youths harassing an elderly train passenger. He suffered cut, bruising and broken ribs resulting in hospitalisation – all pretty negative. Another passenger, an off duty nurse, came to his aid, went to the hospital, continued to visit him, and they are now married. My friend had been a negative thinker and, in particularly, was convinced he would never find love. How wrong he was – and for the first time he was happy to be proved wrong!
So, look for the positives and don’t exaggerate/concentrate on the negatives in your life. But remember to be realistic – empty positive thought will likely lead to disappointment. (We can’t all win the lottery!).
Try smiling, it doesn’t hurt and it’s contagious.
Learn how to control your thinking at Thrive With Ian.
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