How often do you catch yourself thinking of pessimistic thoughts or negative situations? Everyone is plagued by negative thinking at one time or another. Do you spend a lot of time replaying unfavorable outcomes or focusing on what’s not going right in your life?
Negative thinking can become a mentality and a frame of mind for many people
Having negative thoughts is a natural occurrence, and it happens to the best of us — after all, we’re only human. However, when negative thinking becomes pervasive and repetitive, it might end up trapping you in an endless cycle of brooding. This emotional addiction to negative thoughts can destroy your mental health and overall well-being.
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Why do you get addicted to negative thinking?
If negative thoughts bring you pain and sadness, why do you subject yourself to suffering by constantly filling your mind with such thoughts?
According to a psychotherapist, public speaker, and Psychology Today contributing writer Nancy Colier, when your mind clings to negative experiences or thoughts, it can be because you’re trying to understand these more clearly and figure them out. Ultimately, it’s a way of trying to make yourself feel better.
Additionally, often revisiting or pondering about the things that hurt you also connects you to a more profound sense of self, where your mind feels alive. The ruminating, reestablishing, and reevaluating cycle helps you think that your narrative matters and validates your sense of identity.
Escaping the damaging thinking addiction
Nonetheless, it’s essential to have a healthy relationship with your emotions. Fixating negative feelings does more damage than good and causes continuous suffering.
If you’re in the habit of dwelling on painful and unpleasant experiences or thoughts, it’s time to break that cycle consciously. Here’s what you can do:
1. Cultivate self-awareness
The first step to breaking the cycle of negative thinking is to be mindful of when it’s happening. Then, notice the moments when you start diving into the pain and be ready to pull yourself out of that thought.
When negative thinking intrudes on your happy or peaceful moments, consciously redirect your attention to what matters in front of you.
2. Recognize when you’re caught
Even with self-awareness, there will be times when it feels impossible to keep your mind from clinging to the pain. When this happens, acknowledge that negative thinking is taking place and the feeling of being stuck in it.
Remember that breaking free from this emotional addiction is a process; part of it is being kind to yourself when moments like this come about.
3. Ask yourself why you’re thinking about it
What is your mind trying to do? Reflect without judgment on what your mind is trying to accomplish when it jumps into the rabbit hole of negative thoughts. Is it a form of safeguarding, so it doesn’t happen again? Does it provide comfort or anchor you?
There are many reasons why this happens, and only you can find out. Making your inquiry can help establish that negative thinking is not the means to reach what your mind wants to do, thus helping break the cycle.
4. Imagine life without pain
On the note of self-assessment, you can also open your mind to a life without constantly revisiting painful experiences. What would your days look like without negative thinking?
Untie your present from the weight of the painful past and try making a positive change.
Form new, motivating habits and actively choose to be more mindful of the now instead of the unpleasant past and fear of the future. Don’t let negative thinking hold power over you.
5. Seek professional help
Remember that you don’t have to be stuck in an endless cycle of brooding forever. While basic countering techniques such as the above can help you independently overcome negative thinking progressively, you can also seek the help of a mental health professional.
Struggling with repetitive negative thoughts can be exhausting and overwhelming. It’s okay to need help. Receiving support from a licensed counselor can aid you in creating a healthier inner dialogue and more positive thinking.