Life is a perfect mirror
Negative thinking is simply thinking about what you do not want, while positive thinking is thinking about what you do want. Ask yourself, do I focus more on what I do want or what I don’t want? For the majority of the world, the answer is the latter. Most people are unconsciously addicted to negative thinking. Negative thinking is not just a bad habit, it is a terrible addiction, and probably directly responsible for every other addiction known to man. After all, when we are addicted to food, TV, drugs, etc.., we are really just trying to escape our own thoughts.
Negative thinking includes the words that you say and think, and it also includes negative visualizations, self-talk and metaphors, as well as, mentally replaying unhappy memories.
Because we often don’t even recognize negative thinking, let’s take a moment to clarify several aspects of negative thinking that might pass by our radar:
- Judgment of anything is negative thinking because you are focusing on what you do not like or desire.
- Self-judgment is negative thinking where you are focusing on what you don’t like about yourself – and reinforcing it.
- Perfectionism is just another word for self-judgment.
- If you call yourself a “realist,” you are someone who rationalizes negative thinking in order to give yourself permission to think negatively.
- While self-doubt is negative thinking, negative thinking creates more self-doubt.
- Feeling sorry for someone is judgment of them or their experience which is negative thinking.
- Worry is also another form of negative thinking because you are imagining the worst.
- Even negative questions are a form of negative thinking because they produce negative answers.
If you ask yourself, “What will happen if I don’t succeed?” your mind will sort for all the terrible things that might happen, and you will be focused on what you don’t want.
- Complaining about what is wrong in your reality is also negative thinking – yes, even if it is really happening.
On the way down the mountain on our bikes, my son’s bike began to have problems. Later he realized that he was in a bad mood. Not making the connection between being upset about the bike and his bad mood, I pointed out that his negative thinking caused the bad mood.
He responded, “I wasn’t thinking negatively. I was just reacting to what was really happening.”
I said, “Were you thinking about what you do want or what you don’t want?”
Reluctant to answer, he said, “I was thinking about what I don’t want.”
“So, you were thinking negatively?”
“Yes,” he answered, “Negative thinking is sneaky.”
Indeed, it is!
At this point, you might be more aware of just how much of your thinking is fear-based. Instead of being overwhelmed, this is a moment of personal power. It is your awareness that opens the door to profound change.
I’ll be honest with you, it took me many years to make the connection between my negative thinking and chronic depression. Now, it seems so clear to me. All the years that I tried relentlessly to overcome depression, I wasn’t able to do it because I was not changing my thought patterns. I wish I could go back and tell my past self, “Hey Nanice, stop focusing on what you don’t want. Take your attention off worry and fear and focus on what you do want, and keep doing it, despite evidence to the contrary.” I would tell her that her commitment to changing her mind will save her – because eventually it did!
Negative thinking first manifests as negative feelings
Any thought that makes you feel bad is a negative thought. Negative thinking causes negative feelings like sadness, frustration, jealousy, anger, etc… In fact, negative feelings are your inner guidance system telling you that you are thinking negatively and imagining what you do not want. Your feelings are telling you that your thoughts are out of control, and you going away from what you desire in life. Even though depression numbs feelings, those feelings are still very much present and persistent.