Do you find yourself on the never-ending merry-go-round of negative thoughts? You know how it goes: you can’t stop thinking the worst, knowing you’ve screwed up somehow or that the other shoe is about to drop. Maybe you analyze yesterday’s parent-teacher conference, certain that your child’s teacher thinks you are an idiot because you couldn’t figure out how to help with “new math.” Or perhaps you ruminate on the snarky comment your sister made about your new haircut. The negative ticker tape that continues to play in your head can wreak havoc on your mood, your outlook on life, and your health.
It would be impossible not to think a negative thought from time to time—neither would it be mentally balanced. Some of the time, negative thoughts help us view a situation with proper perspective and neutrality. But for some people, negative thoughts dictate, making it difficult to make decisions, choose relationships, work productively, and cultivate a sense of peace within. The soundtrack of negative thoughts becomes destructive, and when thoughts become obsessive, we need to stop the pattern and re-evaluate. An important distinction should be noted: negative thoughts can signal depression, and should be evaluated, but for this article I am discussing negative, ruminating thoughts independent of a diagnosis.
How do you know when your thoughts are negatively impacting your life and you’ve lost objectivity? Do/Are you:
- … a complainer? Do you complain about nearly everything in your life?
- … a negative nelly? Has anyone important in your life told you that you are negative?
- … feel hopeless most of the time?
- … think everyone is against you?
- … have a hard time seeing the bright side of things?
- … trapped in your head thinking the worst?
- … experiencing physical symptoms related to your negative thoughts?
If this sounds like you, getting help may change your dark lens. Dominantly negative people often become bitter, resentful, fearful, and full of shame—all feelings that erode peace within. Balanced people see the flat tire, think a negative thought, then get busy fixing the tire or calling for help. This is not to say that flat tires, snarky comments, or poor work evaluations don’t bother balanced people, but they have a quicker time resetting their perspective than dominantly negative people. For balance to be present, there must be positivity, hope, and reason.
If your negative thoughts are hurting your outlook, here are some positivity-grabbing tips to consider:
- Be a detective. Consider the evidence. For instance, if you interviewed for a job and are certain you failed at your first impression, consider the evidence. Were you polite, on time, and presentable? Were you informative and appropriate? Did your skill set seem to match what they were looking for? If so, congratulations. You interviewed well and it is now in someone else’s hands. Allowing negativity to run rampant is not helping, and it won’t prepare you for a second interview.
- Consider alternatives. You’ve interviewed and they haven’t responded yet. Consider the possibilities: they are still interviewing candidates, they are awaiting approval to hire you, they are never going to call you because your interview was awful, and they may call tomorrow. Each possibility has its own voice and perspective, some negative and some positive. Learning to articulate alternatives helps to mold possible positive thoughts.
- Let it go. Negative thoughts are just thoughts; they can come and go. Positivity is a choice. What if you itemized all of your negative thoughts on a piece of paper and then burned the paper? What would be left in your mind? Perhaps the space negativity leaves behind can allow positivity to creep in and settle.
Using these tips is a great way to slow or stop the constant harassment of negativity. If you can cultivate a new perspective to look at life’s events in a more balanced way, you’ll find yourself happier and healthier.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.