Negative thinking is an unfortunate habit of falling into. It’s like an unconscious insurance policy; by expecting the worst, you’ll never be disappointed, right? It also gives people a strange kind of power to be able to say ‘I told you so.’ For some, it can be more impactful to them to be proven right in making these kinds of predictions than it is for something--anything--good to happen. They might call it being a realist but in reality? It’s cynical, and unduly so.
UncommonHelp has put together these tips on how to block negative thoughts. Blocking negativity not only helps you see the brighter side but can have effects on health as well. People who tend to think on the negative side of life are at higher risk for depression as well as illness later in life.
1. Stop thinking in extremes
Negativity tends to lead people to think in extremes, like if you are afraid of public speaking, you might say you’re going to freak out. Or if you have a big presentation coming up at work, you’re going to fail due to nerves. In short...stop it. Life isn’t black and white, and neither are repercussions. This is where you can activate your realistic mindset, and know that it’s most likely that you’ll land in the middle of the road. Or succeed. But the chances of out-and-out failure? Low.
2. Stop over-generalizing negativity
When something bad does happen, don’t apply it to an entire field or situation and label it as permanent. Basically, don’t consider yourself cursed because you failed a test; chances are you weren’t adequately prepared, right? So next time, figure out what it will take to get the score you want.
3. Stop minimizing positivity
Negativity tends to overshadow the positive possibilities. It’s part human nature (we’re a risk-averse species most of the time), but it doesn’t have to filter out the good. Stop absorbing only the bad, or interpreting bad events as permanent instead of temporary setbacks.
4. Stop mind-reading
Negative thinking makes people uncomfortable with uncertainty. If you text your crush and they don’t respond immediately, it’s easy for our mind to jump to conclusions. Usually bad ones (i.e. they don’t like you, they’re not interested, etc). But in reality, there are a million reasons they might not respond back immediately. Find ways to be more positive, or at the very least more neutral, when assigning feelings to others.
5. Stop imposing rules on life
This is something that seems to be gaining popularity. You’ve probably seen stylized quotes on Instagram or other social channels, masquerading as empowerment but really thinly-veiled negative thinking. They usually begin with something like, “When you love someone….” or “If he loves you…” and so on. Basically, it places tight rules on others for how reality *should be* versus how it really is (as we noted, it’s not black and white). It’s a surefire way to be disappointed in others and yourself.
Try to dilute any negative thoughts as they arise. When something bad pops up, try to pair with something positive, or at least neutralizing. Negativity is harmful in the long haul, so stopping it in its tracks now is a great way to prevent issues in the long run.