EVERY DAY I REMEMBER TO FOCUS
my thinking on the good things I already have!
PREVIOUS: Being Negative (Part 4)
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 think / talk that way
• 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)
a. 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…)
b. 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
c. 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….)
d. 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’
e. SOCIAL: • causes many personal, social & work problems
• has a downer effect on others we’re regularly around
• prevents us from relaxing & 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)
• 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’
• if you’re depressed, get the help you need to deal with it
By your logic, these topics may be ‘perfectly normal’, interesting, current…. .
But when they’re inherently unpleasant, it is not respectful to foist them 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 (therapy group, 12-Step programs….)
• Notice how you feel when around another person who’s always a ‘downer’. Be willing to admit you may sound like that, & work on changing your own pattern – from the inside out.
NEXT: Being Negative #6