Negative thinking has a lot of negative consequences. It can have harmful effects on our health, such as low energy and strength, poor memory recall, sleep disturbances and weakened immune system. Negativity can also decrease our self-esteem, confidence and overall self-worth, making us ask ourselves, “Why does this happen to me?” Negative thoughts can distort our reality, and in turn, affect our choices.
To examine negativity’s role in your life, ask yourself if you can identify with any of the statements:
Negative thinking is simply a more realistic approach to life. How we think determines our reality. People who engage in negative thinking believe their reality to be true. The same concept applies to people who engage in positive thinking; they believe their reality is their truth (even though it may look very different). The main difference is that positive thinkers see their reality in a different light, where they are able to seek out positive choices, expect positive results and are willing to work to achieve them.
Positive-thinking people expect miracles simply by wishing for them. Don’t we wish it was this easy! Positive thinkers simply have an attitude that enables them to achieve their goals. Their actions are based on possibilities and their attitude helps them achieve these goals.
Positive thinking doesn’t change reality. This is true! If two people are in a car accident, one may think, “Oh, thank goodness, we are both ok!” The other may say, “We almost died! This is the worst day ever!” Their attitudes are completely different, but this doesn’t change the fact that the accident occurred. Positive thinkers simply look at a situation with gratitude, enthusiasm and are solution focused.
Positive-thinking people have no clue about the real world. We all have tough times! Positive thinkers have the courage to not let these times change their outlook on life. They are able to see the positive in situations, regardless of any negativity. It is unrealistic to think positively all the time, but positive thinkers put forth positive energy when they can.
Positive-thinking people are annoying and cheesy! Unfortunately, this can be true. However, truly positive people have difficulties and setbacks, just like everyone else, but they choose to be resilient and look for the positive – that’s smart, not cheesy! Positive thinkers recognize what they can – and cannot – control and take steps accordingly.
If any of these sound like something that you’ve said to yourself, you might benefit from cultivating positive thinking habits. Thinking positive doesn’t mean losing touch with reality, practicing wishful thinking or faking happiness. A few simple strategies can increase positive thinking patterns and create outcomes like better mental health, improved self-confidence and increased life satisfaction.
Challenge negative thoughts. When you notice a negative thought, ask yourself, “What evidence do I have to support this?” Often negative thinking is based on emotions which, although valid, aren’t facts. Ask yourself to consider the most realistic possibility based on fact-based information. Consider both positive and negative past experiences.
Speak to yourself with kindness. Your internal voice is the one you’ll hear the most over the course of your life. Too often our internal self-talk is harsh and unkind; a far cry from the way we’d speak to anyone else. Catch your inner critic and quiet it with more generous words like, “I’m doing the best I can.”
Watch for the good stuff. Much of the success derived from positive thinking is simply a result of paying attention to positive things rather than ignoring or discounting them. Whatever we focus on will grow, so if you choose to look for and give attention to the good things, you’ll be more likely to feel overwhelmed with positivity than burdened by negativity.
Unfortunately, negative-thinking patterns are automatic. It takes more energy and practice to engage in positive thinking. But the benefits of positive thinking are abundant. Positive thinking helps us think clearer and helps us to stay more focused. As a result, we cope better with stressful and difficult situations. Positive thinking makes us happier and more resilient. Our confidence and self-worth improve when we think positively, and social connections improve as people are more attracted to us.
Changing your mindset from negative thinking to positive thinking is a process. The first step is recognizing the presence of unhelpful beliefs and negative thought patterns. When we’re aware of these thought habits, we can pay attention when they show up and begin to practice more helpful behaviours by employing logic and reasoning and embark on a path to a more positive outlook.