Friday, September 23, 2011

Why am I addicted to negative thinking

Have you ever wondered why you continue to hold onto your negative thoughts and beliefs even when you know that they are no good for you?

There are several reasons why you continue to persist in negative thinking. It may be that negative thinking may serve you as a form of protection, as a pay-off. You may ask how something negative can possibly protect and benefit someone. Let me explain how this can happen.

For example, a girl named Francie who has been abused and betrayed by a past boyfriend now might say to herself that “All men are cheaters”. Francie may feel that believing that all mean are cheaters is a protective mechanism, a pay-off that will never allow her to be deceived or hurt ever again by a man.

Francie may feel that by thinking in this negative way she is protecting herself from experiencing the same abuse again. Ironically, this negative belief is just a fake form of protection- a false friend which only lasts temporarily. In the long run, holding on to such negative beliefs may cause detrimental effects in Francie’s personal life and relationships.

Another person named Max is scared to death of public speaking and constantly says to himself “I can never do public speaking”. The pay-off for Max holding on to this negative belief is that it allows him to have an excuse to avoid risking embarrassing himself.

Likewise a person who needs to lose weight and follow a strict diet may continue to hold onto the belief that losing weight is “Too hard” just because they want to give themselves the permission not to take responsibility over their health and go on a disciplined diet.

Other people believe that holding onto their negative thinking and brooding over their unfortunate circumstances will help them handle their problems more effectively and take control of the situation that is affecting them. In reality this type of brooding will do nothing to help improve the situation. The truth is negative rumination will only increase your anxiety and make you feel more helpless.

Do It Yourself Exercise

Negative beliefs can be hard to let go for many people. Sometimes we know the reason why we are holding onto negative thoughts-at other times we have no idea. Our first task is to identify the source of the problem-the negative beliefs that we continue to use day in day out.

Write down the negative thoughts and beliefs you have on paper in a column. In another column write the so called benefits this negative belief has for you. Ask yourself “What is the pay-off for keeping such a belief?” and “Why don’t I let go of this belief? Analyse the reason for your hesitancy.

Writing your thoughts down heightens your awareness and helps you to see the specific thoughts that need to be challenged. It helps you tap into your mind and understand things that are otherwise difficult to recognize.

Understand that negative thoughts and beliefs may help you avoid fearful situations and provide you some form of false protection, but ultimately these thoughts will contribute to problematic behaviours and a lot of unresolved issues in your life. It’s wise to see these thoughts for what they really are and to stop using them from now on.

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