What is Negative Thinking?Negative thinking can take a variety of forms. Negative thinking can come from mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, but may also arise from difficult life circumstances, toxic environments, substance abuse, or low self-esteem. Whatever the source of the negativity, frequent negative thinking can become embedded in the brain, forming neural pathways that reinforce the harmful assumptions of negative thinking. Some of the ways negative thinking can display itself include:
- Negative self-talk – Engaging in an inner dialogue with yourself that diminishes your worth, accomplishments, and abilities while reinforcing your fears and negative self-image.
- Cynicism – A broad distrust of people driven by the assumption that their motives are primarily self-serving.
- All or nothing thinking – The assumption that things must be either good or bad. Any deviation from perfect performance is seen as a failure.
- Catastrophizing – Taking an event and magnifying its importance to make it seem more devastating than it is.
- Blaming – Putting responsibility for life’s uncontrollable circumstances on others or yourself.
- Discounting the positive – Only noticing the bad in situations while minimizing the importance of positive experiences.
Effects of Negative ThinkingEverybody will experience negative thinking from time to time as they respond to disappointment, heartache, frustrations, and failures. However, over time negative thinking can increase your stress levels, make it difficult to express and regulate emotions, and exacerbate existing mental health struggles. These effects can be detrimental to your health and can pose both mental and physical harm. Some of the harmful effects of negative thinking can include:
- Social withdrawal
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Chronic fatigue or pain
- Diminished ability to think and reason
- Memory loss
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system