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.
Sick and tired?
More people get sick as a result of negative thinking than anything else. You don’t find sick people with healthy thoughts. You find sick people with thoughts that create sickness. This doesn’t mean that you think about being sick.It means that you have a history of negative thinking that adversely affected your body, causing sickness.
Negative thinking profoundly affects one’s body, mind and quality of life. You can trace virtually every problem back to fear-based thinking. Negative thinking makes everything harder and requires that we give more effort to the things we want.
You cannot be anxious, overwhelmed or depressed without corresponding negative thoughts. People who think happy, peaceful and relaxing thoughts are not anxious, overwhelmed or depressed.
Why OH WHY???
If negative thinking is so detrimental to our health, well-being, relationships and prosperity, why-oh-why do we do it? Why do we habitually think negative thoughts and focus on what we do not want?
1. Negative thinking is a survival strategy that causes us to look for what is wrong so that we can protect ourselves against danger, but it is a very bad strategy because our thoughts actually create reality. So instead of preventing bad things from happening, we are telling the quantum mind to materialize them.
2. We are programmed by our parents, teachers and society how to think. If those who brought us up thought negatively, and most of them did, we learned to do the same.
3. Our negative beliefs about ourselves and the world cause us to have negative thoughts. If you believe that you are unworthy, your thoughts will support that belief.