Aug 26, 2022 The Allure of Negativity and the Power of Your Thoughts to Overcome it
Your Thoughts Hold More Power Than You May Think
Imagine you are watching a movie about a woman and her friend, and they are driving across the country. They are in the last little town for the next 200 miles. They go through a drive-through to get some food since they are running late to their destination. The woman and her friend each ordered a hamburger, fries, and a coke. Their order is ready at the pickup window, and they speed off. They open their food bags and discover they each got a chicken sandwich, onion rings, and iced tea. The driver says it’s all good; chicken is healthier for her, she loves onion rings, and the iced tea will keep her awake for their long drive. The passenger, however, gets rather upset and says the chicken is dry, the onion rings are greasy, and the iced tea has too much caffeine.
As they stop at a rest stop, both run out of the car to use the bathroom. The driver is grateful for the restroom due to all the iced tea consumed. The passenger complained about how dirty the bathroom was and how thin the toilet paper was. How do you imagine the rest of the drive is going to go?
The driver is making the best of the situation, right? The passenger is stuck in a mindset of seeing only the negative (and commenting on it). Whether you know someone who tends to get stuck in a negative mindset or you’re guilty of it yourself from time to time, you can likely imagine that the rest of the day won’t be pleasant. For the passenger, at least.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”–Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 2, Scene II
The Power to Choose Your Thoughts
On a daily basis, we encounter plenty of situations that require a response from us. Our mindset determines how we integrate those experiences into our life narrative, and ultimately, how we respond. The driver and the passenger from the story above both encountered the same unfortunate events, but one became stuck in negativity and the other relied on the power of positive thoughts to avoid the same fate.
Sure, the allure of negativity can feel good when you’re raging for 30 seconds about the latest injustice you’ve suffered, but at what cost? You have the power to change your mindset and your thoughts.
The Cost of Negative Thinking
It’s not just the small moments that are affected by our mindset. Our physical health, our relationships, our overall happiness, and many transitional moments in our lives are also subject to interpretation by our thoughts and mindset.
You’re likely already familiar with the idea of the mind-body connection. There has been a whole movement in the mental health community to recognize how intimately linked our mental and physical health and well-being are. Negative feelings, made more intense by our thoughts, are linked to momentary concerns such as headaches and upset stomach, as well as the long-term risk of heart disease and stroke. Cynicism, in particular, has been linked to an increased risk of dementia.
So, how do we get out of negative thought patterns?
If learning about the negative consequences of continuing to be stuck in this way of thinking isn’t enough to create motivation for change, the other important revelation is that positive thoughts contain an equal and opposite power to shape our reality. CBT for Depression can teach you to create positive action by monitoring and paying attention to the things you think and believe. It can also teach you ways to combat and work through intrusive thoughts. CBT for anxiety, depression, and other issues causing you to have negative or intrusive thoughts is proven to support improved mental health.
How CBT Can Help You End Negative Thought Patterns
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is particularly effective in helping individuals overcome negative thoughts by addressing and transforming those thought patterns. CBT identifies and challenges irrational or distorted thinking that contributes to negative emotions and behaviors. It teaches individuals to become aware of their automatic negative thoughts, such as self-criticism or catastrophic thinking, and encourages them to evaluate the evidence supporting these thoughts. Through this process, individuals learn to replace irrational thoughts with more rational, balanced, and constructive ones.
CBT also employs various techniques and strategies to mitigate the impact of negative thoughts, such as cognitive restructuring and thought records. By restructuring thought patterns, individuals can reduce their emotional distress, improve their problem-solving abilities, and make healthier decisions. Ultimately, CBT helps individuals gain control over their thought processes, promoting a more positive and constructive inner dialogue and leading to improved mental well-being and a more optimistic outlook on life.
Powerful Thoughts to Create Action and Change in Your Life
Asking the right questions at the right time is a powerful tool for CBT depression therapists, but you can begin to build these internal checklists on your own to feel more in control of the direction of your thoughts. When you find yourself feeling tempted by the allure of negativity, ask yourself:
- How much of my power am I willing to give up on this situation that has me upset?
- What can I be grateful for at this moment instead?
- How have I handled similar situations in the past? How did it work out?
- When do I feel most in control of my thoughts? What can I learn from that experience?
- What do I do now that helps me think positively? What is the smallest step I can take toward corralling these thoughts?
It seems simple, but using these quick refrains to check in on your thought processes and gently steer them towards the positive can create lasting effects and mindset change. And if you’re looking for a small step to take, writing out these questions on a notecard that you carry with you is a great start, as is reaching out to schedule an appointment with a CBT depression therapist. Many clients feel better just knowing that they’ve made the choice to invest in themselves and reach out for support. A therapist can guide you in finding coping mechanisms for overthinking and choosing positive thoughts.
Even if you’re not ready for that step, you are capable of creating meaningful change in your thoughts and behaviors right now. As you move throughout life and even as you begin CBT therapy for depression, try these affirmations to stop those negative thoughts in their tracks and reclaim your power.
Delia Counseling Services provides quality CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) for depression, anxiety, grief and loss, relationship concerns, and life transitions. Susan Delia serves therapy clients online in Florida and online and in-person in the Yakima, Washington area, including zip codes 98902 and 98901 and beyond.