EVERY DAY I REMEMBER TO FOCUS
my thinking on the good things I already have!
PREVIOUS: Negative Thinking (Part 3)
SITE: The science of Happiness (“Happify” Website)
TROUBLE letting go of negative thinking/talking – WHY?
• it’s strongly imprinted in our brain from years of ‘practice’
• it would require S & I from the family, which is never easy
• denial: we have a hard time noticing how often we talk like that
• it gives us a sense of false ‘control’
• no one would know how bad we had it growing up
• we get something out of it (Post: Negative Benefits)
• we don’t see the value in thinking/speaking positively, believing it’s for wimps, pollyannas or dummies (who don’t know what’s real!)
• we think it would be denying / our pain & suffering
• we use it to punish ourselves for being imperfect
CONSEQUENCES of Negative Thinking (NT)
MENTAL: • it leads us to assume that any mistake is a failure, which will expose us to criticism/ judgment, like in our family
• tells us we should be able to make big strides quickly & easily, & that since we can’t – we lazy, stupid or hopelessly stuck
• it prevents being able to think of alternative solutions to problems
• when the brain tries to deal with a complex task, being inundated with NT slows down its capacity to process information & think clearly – by as much as 50% (More…)
EMOTIONAL: • can easily lead to depression, assuming we have to be perfect, & to being trapped by our own unrealistic standards
• can cause anxiety, leading to unhealthy coping mechanisms
PHYSICAL: • it’s harmful to the body, since negativity lowers its defenses & subtracts from our energy
• Because NTs are so painful we can easily turn to addictions to escape (food, money, sex, alcohol/chemicals, relationships….)
PSYCHOLOGICAL: • is an obstacle to personal growth, making any change feel too overwhelming & painful
• it makes it hard to see & acknowledge the small steps in progress we DO make
• it denies or ignores possibilities that would improve life, & prevents receiving abundance
• it wastes time & energy, which could be used to heal old wounds & pursue healthy goals
• it convinces us that any form of risk is ‘life-threatening’
SOCIAL: • causes many personal, social & work problems
• has a downer effect on others we’re regularly around
• prevents us from relaxing and let our guard down – always second guessing ourselves (Cognitive Therapy Guide)
OUTGROWING NTs – change/modify things that contribute to it:
• start with AWARENESS of what you’re saying to yourself, what’s causing the ‘stinking thinking’, & the harmful effects it has on your life (& on others)
• if you’re depressed, get the help you need to deal with it
• slowly clear up practical problems which you have some control over (changing college course, job, spouse…., pay off debts, go to 12-Step meetings, do something creative/artistic….
• try not to actually speak any negative thought out loud (develop personal boundaries instead of giving in to S-H).
If you feel the urge to criticize or get angry about something, shift to another topic if you NEED to talk
• accept/believe that positive thinking/speaking is a big plus, personally & socially. It does NOT mean being mushy, drippy, girly, sacrificing your opinions/tastes/values, or never objecting to something ‘wrong’
• become acutely sensitive to the fact that some topics you’re interested in are intensely emotional (illness, jail, abuse, death, loss, war, politics, putting anything or anyone down….).
By your logic, the topic may be ‘perfectly normal’, interesting, current…. , but when it’s inherently unpleasant, it is not respectful to foist it on others, & it can easily sour the mood of a group, bring up old pain for someone or hurt someone’s feelings.
Naturally, such topics are appropriate in a group specifically designated for that.
• notice how you feel when around another person who’s always a ‘downer’. Be willing to admit if you sound like that, & work on changing your own pattern – from the inside out.
NEXT: Parents blaming us