Why Am I Thinking Such Negative Thoughts?
Do you ever find yourself obsessing over things that could go wrong in the future? You may be asking yourself "what if THIS BAD THING HAPPENS" or "what if THAT OTHER BAD THING HAPPENS"?
Or maybe you've just had a review meeting with your boss and you completely ignore all of the positive feedback your boss gives you and instead focus on that one piece of constructive criticism they casually mentioned?
Perhaps you notice that you remember memories of bad things that have happened in your life much more clearly than memories of the good things that have happened?
Or perhaps you find yourself thinking lots of negative thoughts in your head and being very harsh and critical on yourself instead of being kind and compassionate to yourself and thinking positive and optimistic thoughts?
As humans we have a natural negativity bias. We tend to prioritise and focus on negative things much more than positive things. This was important from an evolutionary perspective. If you think about a caveman or cavewoman trying to survive, it was much more important that they noticed and avoided that lion or tiger (the negative stimulus) than they noticed and remembered where those blueberries were (the positive stimulus). Of course, the blueberries were important for fuel and nourishment, however if they didn't first prioritise avoiding that lion/tiger, they wouldn't be able to go and eat those blueberries at all. Those who were able to avoid danger and threats successfully were able to survive. So we evolved to be very tuned in to things that could possibly go wrong, to focus on negative stimuli and to remember memories of negative events so that we could avoid those situations in the future.
Now this all made perfect sense in caveman/ cavewoman times but of course today, it can mean that we are all overly worried about threats that will never materialise. It can also mean that we spend a lot of time worrying about things that could go wrong, focusing on negative memories and prioritising criticism over compliments.... and all of this can make us feel very anxious and down.
So what can we do about this? As our brains naturally prioritise the NEGATIVE, we need to consciously balance this out by gently encouraging ourselves to focus on the POSITIVE. Things you can ask yourself to balance out your negativity bias can include:
- WHAT IF this good things happens? WHAT IF everything goes well? (Instead of worrying about everything that could go wrong)
- What positive memory can I focus on and celebrate? (Instead of just giving air time to negative memories)
- What compliments have people paid me in the past? (Instead of worrying about criticism you may have received)
- What do I have to be grateful for? (Instead of focusing on things that aren't going so well)
If you would like some support with your mental health and wellbeing or to rebuild your relationship with food and your body, please feel free to reach out to book in a free consultation at email@example.com
"Even the most positive people experience negativity from time to time -- it's part of what makes us human. In very small doses, negativity can actually be pretty helpful, since it's our mind's method of keeping us safe by highlighting the bad in things. In larger doses however, it can dramatically limit our potential and hold us back from living life to the full. Relationships, careers, personal growth and long-term fulfilment can all be hampered. What's more, research has shown that negativity can also pave the way for more stress and more illness than our more positive peers." - BEV JAMES