Negative Thinking And How To Overcome It

negative thinkingPositive thinking alone isn’t guaranteed to fix everything that is wrong or going bad in life but negative thinking sure as heck isn’t going to help matters. So why is it then we mostly, typically, if not always, default to the negative thinking model?

Negative Thinking And How To Overcome It

Why is it more natural for us to focus on the negatives and or expect the worst outcomes in life? Why do we focus on the chance of rain instead of the chance of sunshine? Why do we focus on that annoying single brown blade of grass in the lawn when the rest is so perfect and green?

Negative thinking comes naturally to us and this is why… it is because of our ancestors… so, yes… for once we can blame something on someone else, sort of.

Our brains are hardwired for negative thinking as we are always on the lookout and scanning our environment for anything that might cause us harm. We are programmed to identify anything that might threaten our safety and if something does then our good old “fight or flight” instinct kicks in… It is not something that we need so much anymore but thousands of years ago when we were not exactly at the top of the food chain it was very important.

It is a leftover from our evolution as human beings. Our predilection towards negative thinking is actually rooted deep within our basic survival instincts. But just because it is there it does not mean it is either good or necessary. Just like wisdom teeth which are an evolutionary holdover that we remove, we can also “remove” or overcome our bias towards negative thinking.

Is it easy then to overcome our natural negative thinking patterns? I’d say, yes and no.

Just knowing and understanding that we tend to default towards the negative when it comes to our thinking is the first step. As they say, “knowledge is power.”

When you do catch yourself looking at the negatives rather the positives, stop yourself. Seriously, stop yourself and notice exactly what you are thinking about and what exactly it is that you are focusing on. Are you focusing on what is right or are you focusing on what is wrong? If you are focusing on what is wrong is it likely that you might just be blowing it all out of proportion thus kicking in your “fight or flight” response and therefore looking for more of what is wrong (or a threat?)

If it makes things easier, just take a second to remind yourself that you are safe and that you are okay. Trust me… I can’t tell you how many times a day I begin to spin out of control over one thing or another and have to literally stop myself and say out loud, “I’m okay,” or “it’s going to be okay.” Sounds silly but it does work!

Now comes the hard part… find another thought to focus on… one that is better or feels better. Then choose, make choice and decide which thought it is you want to think about and then do that.

The process itself is rather simple yet it can be a challenge to implement. It takes practice and it may take even years to master. Our brains and minds are plastic in the sense that we can reshape thought patterns with enough time and practice but it can be done.

Don’t worry… your old mode of always being on the lookout and scanning for danger will always be intact and it will always be there when you need it. It is just important to differentiate that process with the process or habit of chronic negative thinking.

I believe that there is a certain momentum or snowball effect in how we think. The more negative thinking that we do (which comes naturally and easily) the more negative thinking we will do. On the other hand, the more positive thinking that we do (which can be a little more challenging and might require WORK) the more positive thinking we will do.

It is always easier to look at what is wrong and to complain. It is much tougher to resist that urge and put effort into seeing and appreciating the upsides and what is good. I guarantee that effort pays off quite handsomely when it comes to your overall happiness and contentment in life so always reach for the more positive thought when you can.

“It is not always possible to do away with negative thinking, but with persistence and practice, one can gain mastery over them so that they do not take the upper hand.”
Stephen Richards

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – A Certified Life Coach In Aspen Colorado

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Photo By Andy Wooten 29 August 2013

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