To some degree, every person deals with self-defeating, intrusive thoughts.
We have wildly imaginative minds that have the capacity to take a simple, harmless thought and warp it into something much larger.
Believe me—I know a thing or two about panicking.
I’ve conquered the art of anguish.
I’m a master of magnification.
A rumination ruler well versed in the art of worry.
I’m not trying to brag or anything, but I guess you could say that when it comes to over-reacting, I knock it out of the ballpark.
Somewhere along the line I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere with my talent. In fact, it was running me into the ground.
So I’ve worked on re-training my brain to be good at something else.
I’m trading my gloom for grins.
My pessimism for positivity.
Retraining myself to not be a chronic over thinker has been difficult at times – habits are stubborn little boogers – but small changes add up. Each day I’m a little nicer to myself. My perceptions are a little more balanced. A little less skewed. And small changes have made huge improvements to my confidence and contentment. I’m now a proud wearer of positivity pants.
I would highly recommend them to anyone.
Here’s a Few things I’ve Learned About the Pitfalls of Negative Thinking
1. Strange and Worrisome Thoughts are Normal
Simply having negative thoughts or nervousness about a situation is natural. It’s impossible to entirely avoid negativity — the human brain, on average, takes in anywhere between 40,000 and 60,000 thoughts a day! It’s probable that a few of these thoughts will be cynical.
The problem begins when we handpick one of these negative thoughts, believe the negative thought is unwaveringly true and then obsess over it throughout the day.
This is what we call rumination.
The word ruminate is derived from a latin phrase that roughly translates to “chewing cud.” Get this: after swallowing their food, cows will sometimes regurgitate and chew it up all over again. Second dinner, if you will.
Instead of quickly dismissing an illogical thought — we keep chewing and swallowing and regurgitating and chewing some more.
This once insignificant, fleeting thought has now gained momentum. It’s become a rancid chunk of food stuck in our throats, depriving us of air and positivity.
Invariably, this leads to heightened feelings of hopelessness.
Depression, Anxiety, and Self-Defeating Patterns
If you’ve ever struggled with depression, you’re all too familiar with a deflated perception of yourself. Of the world you inhabit.
You’re acquainted with its debilitating and far-reaching effects.
Depression is a parasite that latches on and holds on for dear life — it depletes your energy, silences your laugh, dulls your heart. It seeps into your social interactions and strains your relationships by building thick, concrete walls around you that estrange and isolate you.
Anxiety disorders – which often co-exist with depression – makes it even easier to take these thoughts and fixate until you can’t see anything else.
And then — as if this wasn’t enough — the disorders recruit your brain, who has suddenly evolved into a loud-mouthed jerk who likes to kick you when you’re down.
Because depression increases our proclivity to be hopeless and sad, and anxiety weakens our abilities to filter through these negative thought patterns— depression and anxiety invariably lead to more extreme mental rumination and, as a result, increasing amounts of self-doubt and self-deprecation.
So how do we stop this endless loop? How do we stop choking on our fears and failures? In order to do so, we’ve got to rewire our thought patterns and shift our perspectives.
2. Breaking the Negativity Loop is Possible- Here’s How:
When your inner critic starts to send a steady stream of nasty messages, take a moment to listen and really consider what you’re saying to yourself.
Use this three-step process to navigate through negativity and shift your perspective.
Fight back against your self-doubt.
You have the power to say NO to your inner critic. You have the ability to break the loop at this point and look at yourself and your circumstances with a new set of eyes. Changing your usual way of processing may be difficult at first. I know this first hand. But through deliberate practice and mindfulness, you can shift your thought process. Many of our outer circumstances cannot be controlled. But our responses to these circumstances and the thoughts attached to them are up to YOU.
I’m challenging you to make it a priority to challenge your inner bully. Drown out the negative noise with blaring, unabashed optimism.
Remember: we don’t have full control over our circumstances—but we do have control over how we see and respond to them.
How do you practice positive thinking? I’d love to hear your wonderful ideas. Feel free to share in the comment section below.