Negative thoughts: how to deal with them
No one said it was easy, but you can learn to manage negative thoughts that generate extra doses of anxiety. And more so when those thought patterns are repeated and even automated, generating a tendency to always think badly in any daily situation.
The mental load can become unbearable. Throughout the day we are receiving millions of stimuli and experience millions of situations that can range from very mild to serious and from positive to negative. As soon as we get out of bed, things begin to happen to us and without realizing it, in this search for explanations, we make negative assessments of those events.
When that happens, all these destructive thoughts gain more strength and overshadow the good things that happen to us”, explains psychologist Adela Berrozpe, professor of the Degree in Psychology at UIC Barcelona, who describes this accumulation of negative thoughts as a ‘mountain of psychic residue.
Negative thoughts according to psychologists
It is not easy to change that assessment that we make of reality or that constant negative anticipation that leads us to worry and even suffer for things before they happen, but you can work to manage those thoughts. “Yes, it is clearly possible. We tend to repeat thought patterns and, therefore, feelings and behaviors.
If there is something really challenging in the human being. it is the possibility of change.The person who enters this process is forced to feel think and do something in a different way. On many occasions we act under learned mechanical models and it is difficult to leave them behind.
It is necessary to work on emotions and let the person discover for himself that he has the ability to leave those patterns behind and, in a certain way, be reborn with new ideas or thoughts. It is changed through a full personal experience, not by a talk or advice, whoever gives it to us ”, explains Juan José López Jurado, psychologist at Mundopsicólogos .
Mistakes that build negative thoughts
For López Jurado, the interpretations we make of situations are the key to the creation of these negative and even obsessive thoughts. Sometimes we find ourselves unable to objectively examine the interpretations of our mind, explains the expert, who lists some of those errors that lead us to a pessimistic interpretation.
- Perceiving reality in black or white . “If what we do is not perfect, we see ourselves as failures,” he says.
- We filter reality . “We are left with a single negative detail and we end up obscuring our vision of the facts or exaggerating generalizing, a single negative event makes us see patterns of defeat.”
- The binocular trick, that is, we maximize the importance of something (a blunder, for example) or we reduce things to the extreme until we make them tiny (like our qualities).
- We punish ourselves with the ‘have to’ or the ‘should’. “Its consequences are feelings of guilt. We feel anger or resentment when we direct those ‘shoulds’ towards others.
- Personalize reality . “We see ourselves as the cause of some negative external event for which, in reality, we are not responsible,” explains the expert.
The importance of reassessing
The Mundopsicólogos expert advises doing a routine exercise with those negative thoughts to dispel them. It consists of writing down how and when those thoughts appear and a short description of how we experience them. “This technique can help us ‘re-evaluate’ them: stop at their irrationality, see them as an opportunity instead of a threat. Carrying out the reappraisal is much more effective than trying to suppress those thoughts ”, he points out.
Balance with positive thoughts
For the clinical psychologist Brídiga H. Madsen , since when we only see the negative side of things we miss the good part, it is also advisable to balance our thoughts by becoming aware of the positive events that have happened during the day .
It may be difficult at first, but each time it will be easier. And without a doubt, it will help you feel better about yourself and the rest of the world, ”she says. To which López Jurado adds: “Working with positive thoughts as a distraction seems to be useful for suppressing negative material.”
please do not mix
Adela Berrozpe also insists on the power that our mind has to work with this tendency towards negativity and its ability to minimize mental burdens . “We have to be aware that, when faced with a stimulus, most of the assessments and thoughts that said stimulus generates in us are of our own harvest and do not precisely correspond to the absolute truth.
We always have the possibility of making different evaluations and visions of the same event, in the same way that we build a drama.we can build another reality that comforts us more”.
For this, it is important to quarantine those emotions and not mix the events that happen to us.. It is about learning to break down the events that happen to us. “Each thing that happens to us, each concern that we have is different, generates different emotions in us and has different solutions, therefore, we have to clearly differentiate between them,” he adds. For this it is also important to take into account the present . “There are two days in life that nothing can be done; one is yesterday and the other tomorrow ”, he concludes.
The dangers of toxic positivity
López Jurado’s reflection on toxic positivity is interesting , which has nothing to do with controlling negative and obsessive thoughts. As always, virtue is in the middle. “We may be immersed in a very harmful current for mental health and personal balance and this is, following a great American psychologist, Barbara S. Held, ‘ the tyranny of the positive’. She and other important authors warn us about the danger of the so-called positive psychology.
It is necessary to be prepared and develop the psychic strength necessary to face negativity. We can make positive changes and also assume that the negative aspects of life are here to stay. It may help us accept it more and he is not against allowing us to complain and criticize. Remaining blind, positive and optimistic all the time, makes us run the risk that the shock will be even greater when things go wrong for us ”, concludes the psychologist.