How Negative Thoughts Affect You
Understanding How Negative Thoughts Affect You
If you are like most people, you probably don’t realize how negative thoughts affect you. Since thoughts create feelings and feelings create thoughts, it follows that negative thoughts affect you in negative ways. Your negative thoughts do affect you. Negative emotions and thoughts have often been called powerful, and there is an excellent reason for this. Negative emotions are especially dangerous since they have been directly linked to numerous health-related problems.
The elevated cortisol levels, and the adrenaline pumping through our veins, are referred to as “stress hormones.” When they course through our bodies, they’re preparing us to react in a way that is quick and strong. However, being in a state of such emotional turmoil leads to stress, which, as we all know, is not beneficial for the body. As an example, the most common reason for migraines and headaches is emotional stress. The next time you find yourself with a pounding headache or migraine, observe if you felt stressed before the onset of the headache.
There is a scientific test used to measure negative thinking known as the Automatic Thought Questionnaire. It was created by Steven D. Hollon and Phillip C. Kendall that measures automatic negative thoughts. The test consists of 30 negative statements and asks participants to indicate how often they experienced the negative thought during the course of the week on a scale of 1–5.
Such negative thoughts affect you in numerous ways that include the following:
- Chronic stress.
- Decreased motivation.
- Greater feelings of helplessness.
- Lowered ability to see and act on opportunities.
- Feelings of depression.
- Limited thinking.
- Headaches and migraines that happen frequently.
- Highly stressful emotions like anxiety and worry increase the muscle tension we experience, which then dilates the blood vessels, thereby making the headache or migraine that you feel much worse.
- Relationship challenges.
- Cynicism which leads to a higher risk of dementia and heart disease.
- Hostility leading to a higher risk of stroke.
- Depression is connected with increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes, heart attack, a greater chance of disability, and affects your immune system.
- Anxious and moody people are more susceptible to the effects of brain damage later in life.
Stress is generated by thought alone. As a result, various chemicals and hormones are released in your body, which is a catalyst for many health conditions. None of this is beneficial as stress is not suitable for the body. Being plagued by negative emotions makes it harder to overcome your challenges. It goes beyond just “feeling sad” or “feeling unhappy.” Negativity is an actual hindrance, stopping your brain from performing the clear-thinking process that it needs to deal with complex tasks. When you can’t think clearly, it’s easy for even the little things to get blown out of proportion.
Eventually, that frustration leads to stress and perhaps even anger until you reach a point where it quite literally seems impossible to function normally when your negative emotions are controlling your every move. Remember, when you think a certain way and feel a certain way, you are also acting a certain way. Everything is interconnected, and this is how you are both creating experiences and behavioral patterns in your life.
When you become stuck in your negative thought cycle for too long, you start to believe that this is who you are as a person. You believe this is your reality, and this is how you feel things have always been. It can be hard to break this cycle. Dr. Joeseph Dispenza mentions in many of his talks and his books that if you wish to break out of your cycle of negativity, you need to change the way you think.
Habits are hard to break. The mind needs a good reason to shift its thinking. That reason must be strong enough to give us the motivation for this change to happen. When you want something badly enough, you will be willing to do almost anything to make it happen. It needs to happen now for you to start changing your mindset and become a more optimistic person. If you can eliminate this negative reality loop for yourself, you can create a different, optimistic version of your thinking.
Related Reading: Types of Happiness
Negative Thoughts Are Holding You Back
The problem with society today is that people wear their stress, almost like a badge of honor. You could accomplish a lot more if your negativity and negative thoughts were not holding you back. Negative thoughts are not just damaging to your health; they are preventing you from achieving success. If you allow them to, negative thoughts can hold you down your entire life.
Think about all those moments where you imagined the worst-case scenarios taking place? In how many of those scenarios did your assumptions manifest into reality? If they didn’t, then ask yourself, why are you continually assuming the worst possible thing is going to happen to you? Therein lies the problem, and now that you know, assuming the worst is your own worst enemy.
It’s time to rewire your mind to ditch this habit once and for all. Instead of expending your energy trying to convince yourself all the worst possible catastrophes will befall you, direct that energy towards recognizing that the things you imagine are nothing more than your imagination.
Whether you realize it or not, negative thoughts can hold you back from achieving your goals. These thoughts even hold you back from experiencing all of life’s greatest pleasures. They hold you down, they take away all the joy in life, and they destroy your self-worth. They cause your brain to formulate labels like, “I’m so stupid compared to everyone else. They are perfect and I am not”.
They lead to unrealistic expectations of perfectionism. Since the beginning of time, negative thoughts have had a strong history of harming. It applies to both you as an individual and society in general. When the people you surround yourself with also dwell in that same negative thought cycle, it can be destructive. It is easy to think the worst of a situation and blow things out of proportion. Negative thoughts make you blind to logic and reason, and with these thoughts weighing heavily on your mind, it can be challenging to see things from a realistic perspective.
Negative thoughts can hold you back due to rationalization. When you attempt to rationalize, you will try to give yourself an acceptable explanation for what might be an otherwise socially unacceptable act. In other words, you will try to explain things away to justify the negative emotions that you feel. You create a mental filter where your brain only pays attention to some evidence and ignores others. You get stuck in the “all or nothing” belief system, where you cannot see the nuance or “grey” complexities of life. Yet, you try to justify your thoughts or actions even though they make you unhappy.
Related Reading: How to Measure Happiness
The Negative Mindreader
Another way that negative thoughts hold you back in life is by feeding you to believe that you are a mind reader. It makes you believe that you know what the other person is thinking about you without asking them. For example, if they happen to be moody when you first meet them, your negative mindset will convince you that they hate you or dislike you for some reason. Often, you are predicting what other people are going to think, say, or do and what they thought about you. You are assuming that they only have negative things to say about you.
Being a mind reader is harmful and makes any social feelings or anxieties you have even worse. You blame yourself every time something goes wrong. When things don’t go your way, your negative thinking will undergo something called personalization. One of two outcomes is going to happen when you do this. You will blame yourself when something goes wrong unfairly, or you are going to blame others.
You become hypersensitive about the way that life and other people treat you. It feels as though anything terrible that can and will happen always happens to you. Negative thoughts will also cause you to get stuck in a rumination loop. Rumination means you spend a considerable amount of time rehashing past events. Rumination happens when you focus your attention on the problems you have and the consequences of those problems. When you ruminate, your mind is continuously occupied by the “what-ifs” and “what-not’s.” When we have too much time to ruminate and think about things, everything can seem much worse than it is. Having time on your hands to ruminate about things can make your situation seem much worse than it is.
If negative thoughts have such detrimental effects on ourselves, imagine how equally powerful positive thoughts can be. Not to mention all the benefits that go along with it. If you consistently nurture positive thoughts and expectations, you paint a picture of future success in your mind.
Interesting Reading: Take the Happiness Quiz
A Negative Mind Will Never Give You a Positive Life
You should now have an understanding of how negative thoughts affect you. Let us look at the positive side for a moment. Examine the word “optimism.” The root of that word is “opt,” which means “choose.” What do you do when you opt to do something? You choose to do it. You are making an active choice to do something that you know will benefit you moving forward. It is that belief that this will be good for you that helps you make the decision. Optimism is choosing to see the good in every situation. Optimism reflects the belief that the outcomes of events or experiences will generally be positive. Optimists go on to become the people who succeed in life, while the pessimists will always stay behind, rooted where they are because they don’t choose to do something about it. Optimism is a way of looking at the world that gives the optimist permission as being partly responsible when life is going well. You can learn to be optimistic and turn your negative thinking into positive thinking using the over fifty powers that optimism grants you. In our next blog installment, we will reveal the fifty powers of optimism and how it will benefit you.