Are you struggling with the overwhelming emotions of depression and constantly encountering negative thoughts? Do negative thoughts keep cruising around your mind or hindering your mental peace? If yes, we must work together to overcome these obstacles and improve our well-being. Persistent negative thinking can be a vicious cycle, and curating them with persuasive rewiring techniques can help break the chain of negative thoughts and stop the spiral of depression.
The write-up below will give you valuable insight into the harmful effects of negative thinking, including the various types that exist and how it affects the body. Besides this, we’ll also explore strategies for combatting this destructive mindset.
At some point in our lives, everyone has irrational or negative thinking. However, when the thoughts become excessively amplified, they can adversely affect the way we see ourselves and those around us. It is arduous to perceive things differently once we put on the negative filter. This phenomenon is called cognitive distortion. Fortunately, such thinking patterns can be unlearned through actionable steps which we can undertake to improve our mental well-being.
Negative Thoughts in Depression
Negative thoughts can fuel depression. It is the most common symptom and can even exacerbate depression. These thoughts can be self-critical and pessimistic and can take over our thinking patterns. They can range from brief flashes of negativity to a pervasive mindset that dominates our thinking. Regardless of their intensity, negative thoughts can be very distressing and can have a profound impact on our mental health.
Types of Negative Thinking and Their Effect
- Repressed Emotions: Repressed emotions are the ones that are subconsciously avoided by us. They quietly brew within our bodies, causing various negative impacts that we may not even be aware of. It takes a significant toll on the immune system, making the individual vulnerable to illness and diseases. Besides this, refusing to acknowledge and express our emotions can lead to significant stress and anxiety.
- Cynical Thinking: Cynical thinking is a critical perspective in that one looks at a person or any situation through a negative lens. It is a defence mechanism that protects one’s ego from being bruised due to failure. However, the constant negativity of Cynical thinking can cause chronic inflammation, leading to a plethora of health issues such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.
- Black-and-white Thinking: Black-and-white thinking refers to the tendency to see things only in two extremes – good or bad, right or wrong, with us or against us. Such thinking can have negative consequences on a person’s health, as it often leads to rigid and inflexible attitudes, difficulty dealing with change, and increased stress levels.
- All-or-Nothing Thinking: All-or-nothing thinking refers to the idea that things should be either perfect or worthless, with no in-between. This type of thinking can have a detrimental effect on one’s health and well-being. For example, individuals who engage in all-or-nothing thinking may feel like a failure if they can’t meet their high expectations, causing them to experience stress and anxiety.
Combating Negative Thoughts
Don’t let negative thoughts hijack your life. There are seven techniques to break the negative thought cycle.
- Recognize what thoughts affect you: Identifying negative thoughts is the first step towards breaking their cycle. This is akin to identifying the foes in a war – until you know who or what you’re fighting, you won’t be able to win the battle. This can be done by jotting down your thoughts in the journal, which helps you to identify patterns of negative thoughts and understand the triggers.
- Accept the Thoughts: Never try an escape mechanism always accept the ideas that are flowing in your mind. It is natural to have various thoughts, both positive and negative, and suppressing them won’t make them disappear. Instead, acknowledge them and allow yourself to experience them fully. This will help you gain clarity and control over your emotions. Remember, denying your thoughts only prolongs the process of dealing with them.
- Challenge Negative Thoughts: Challenge the negative thoughts and reframe them in a more positive light. By actively reframing negative thoughts, we can start to break the cycle of negativity that can feed anxiety and depression. It can be challenging at first, but with practice, it becomes easier to recognize negative thought patterns and reframe them in a more positive and realistic way.
- Break from the Social Platforms: The demands of the outside world can become quite taxing, particularly when you are working on yourself. It is perfectly acceptable to switch off from it all and indulge in some “me time.” It’s not necessary to have an all-encompassing awareness of current affairs. Furthermore, in this digitally interconnected society, you are not obliged to be accessible around the clock if it jeopardizes your own emotional well-being.
- Release Judgement: We often judge ourselves harshly, which leads to negative thoughts that spiral out of control. By learning to let go of our judgments and accepting ourselves as we are, we take a step forward toward breaking the cycle of negative thinking.
- Practice Gratitude: Negative thoughts can be overwhelming and can throw us into a downward spiral of negative thinking. However, there are proven methods to manage negative thoughts and one of them is practicing gratitude. It is often said that counting your blessings instead of dwelling on your worries can have a profound impact on your state of mind. Gratitude is the practice of being thankful for what we have and acknowledging the positive aspects of our lives.
- Seek Out Professional Support: Negative thoughts can be debilitating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Seeking the help of a mental health professional is a proactive step towards managing negative thoughts and reclaiming control of one’s well-being. Professional help can also provide a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to express their thoughts and concerns. Sometimes talking to a trusted friend or family member may not be enough, and in these instances, seeking the assistance of a professional can make all the difference.
Breaking the cycle of negative thoughts is a gradual process that requires patience and commitment. By implementing the techniques discussed in this article, it’s possible to rewire the brain and shift from negative thinking patterns to more positive ones. Self-awareness is crucial for identifying negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones. Exercise, diet, and good sleep habits are also important in maintaining mental well-being.