The latest articles to help you maintain mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

The Perils of Negative Thinking and How to Stop it Now

Today, many of us are stretched to the max, both physically and mentally. Our go-go-go lifestyles are starting to show their ugly side. The overstressed person can become depressed, turn to self-medication through the use of drugs and alcohol, and find other maladaptive ways to cope with this super stressful way of life. Negative thinking is a common reaction to the modern world and it causes a whole host of different problems.

Negative thinking is almost an epidemic today. So many people see nothing but the bad, the negative, or what is wrong with the world. This saps other people’s happiness and, like happiness, negativity can often be contagious.

We can choose to let negative thinking take over our life. On the flip side, we can also choose to change our way of thinking, our perspective, and reduce the effect that negativity has on our lives. We can learn to stop negative thoughts and find healthy outlets that allow us to actually let go of these negative feelings, so we can begin to move on from them.

The Problem of Negative Thinking

Excessive negative thinking has a number of impacts on our lives and none of them are – not surprisingly – very positive. A form of stress, negativity can bring one down both physically and mentally. People who think negatively are far more likely to suffer from depression than those who do not. Too much negativity is hard to cope with and many people turn to other things – such as drugs, alcohol, or even excessive eating – as a means to cope, but these means are not at all effective and cause a host of problem on their own.

How to Overcome Negative Thinking

One of the first things we have to understand is that we have more control over our negative thoughts than we might think we do. Ask any happy person how they stay so happy and they will tell you that it takes effort, especially at first.

There are a lot of bad things in the world today and anything can have a negative side if you look at it long enough. People who think positively choose to do this. They are constantly looking for the positive in any situation, even if it is the smallest detail. Latching on to that one positive allows them to maintain their positive outlook in the face of negativity. Acknowledging the positive is also shown to make people feel happier and much less stress.

It might sound way too easy, but making a conscious effort to try to see the positive will, over time, become habit, and you will find that you don’t have to work as hard to maintain a positive outlook. When you do experience negative thought or other people’s negativity, do not let it effect you. Accept it, but then rid your mind of it and go back to the positive. Over time, your mind will, rather than immediately gravitate towards the negative, will immediately gravitate towards the positive. This has a profound impact on our happiness and spiritual wellbeing.

Mindfulness and Other Exercises for Releasing Negative Thoughts

While we can say no to negativity and try to avoid it, there are negative elements of life that we all have to deal with. Bad things will happen and we all need healthy ways to cope when things get tough.

Mindfulness is a really effective way of releasing your negative thoughts. It is, essentially, the practice of really focusing on the present moment, what is going on in the present moment, and how you feel in the present moment. Rather than pass any sort of value judgment, we simply see our thoughts and feelings, and let them go. This is not easy to do at first, but it is incredibly freeing. It’s almost as if you are taking power back over your world outlook from a seemingly invisible foe. Sometimes, we are the biggest barrier to our own happiness.

Yoga is another great way to release negativity in a healthy way. In addition to helping lengthen and destress the whole body, it is also incredibly clearing for the mind. When you are focusing closely on the positioning of your body and how well you are following an asana, you cannot be mired in negativity. With yoga, you nourish your mind, and also allow yourself a healthy release for negativity and negative thought.

Positive visualization is another great activity for getting rid of negative thought in a positive and healthy manner. This can be done on your own, or you can participate in guided types of positive visualization. Basically, what you do is take something very simple, like a flower, and really hone your focus in on this. If you can, immerse more than just your mind. Music and smells that help with association will enhance the experience even further. This is, for all intents and purposes, a form of meditation, and a great way to relieve excessive stress and let go of all negative emotions.

Understanding the self-inflicted damage that negativity and negative thinking have on our bodies, our hearts, our souls, and the people around us, is the first step to taking the power back from the negativity of the world. If all we want to see is negativity, if all we expect to see is negativity, that is exactly what we will find. Learn how to re-frame your world. Choose happy and to look at the positive. Find that silver lining in even the most seemingly dire situations.

It’s also beneficial, and even liberating, to practice mindfulness, to meditate, practice positive visualization, and other healthy means of accepting and letting go of negative energy. These are healthy outlets for a very real human emotion. The failure to release negative emotions can lead to health and psychological issues and an overall loss in quality of life and feelings of wellbeing. Take control of your life and choose the positive – you’ll be amazed at how you feel and how it effects those around you.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.