Watch Negative Thinking

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

We must watch the negative thinking because the power of negative thinking is far greater than that of positive thinking.  See, even the above statement of mine smacks of negative thinking!  If you doubt this statement, do a little experiment:  One morning when you arrive at work, take a deep sigh, look disgusted, and announce within the earshot of your colleagues, "This place stinks."  People will reflexively reach for their handkerchief to protect their noses.  Such outbursts of negative emotions are normally received by unquestioning acceptance.  But let's say you have an inquisitive colleague,  So your colleague  asks you, "Why, what is the problem?"  Just say, "Problem.  Everything is the problem!  Where do you want me to start?"  I bet the heads will nod with an intuitive understanding and sympathy.  That day, you will make many more friends than you made on any other day.  Misery loves company.

But, suppose instead of playing a negative role, you do the opposite.  You decide to play Mr.or Mrs. Overenthusiastic.  One fine mooring, you  go to work and cheerfully announce, "This is a wonderful place to work.  I love it so much, I just can't wait to get here every morning."  You are gonna receive a pindrop silence.  People will look at you like you have been bitten by a bassey bug.  Further, some people will start avoiding you from that day onwards.  Such is the power of negative thinking.  Nothing to criticize and nothing to gripe about, then there is nothing to talk about.  For instance, consider the news.  Eighty-seven percent of it is negative news.  Ask what is wrong with America and you will get an earful.  Ask what is good with America, people will scratch their heads to come up with something.  

The sad fact is that negative thinking causes negative feelings, such as depression, pessimism, and anxiety.  We need to keep our negative thoughts in control.  Whenever we catch ourselves thinking negative thoughts, we should change them.  There are three major types of negative thoughts:  1. Negative thoughts about self  2.  Negative thoughts about others  3  Negative thoughts about the future.  Let's look at each type of negative thinking a little more closely.  

Negative thoughts about self are usually self-criticisms which tend to be absolute, such as, "I am worthless" or, "I am no good."  Negative thoughts can also be indirect and inferred from negative events.  For example, something bad happens in your life and you think, "If I were a good person, this wouldn't have happened to me."  Or, somebody treats you unfairly and you say, "There is nothing I can do about it.  I deserve to be treated like that. "  

Cynicism is another name for negative thinking about others.  Cynical people perceive others as mean, uncaring, and critical.   They ignore that others are also kind, helpful, generous, or complementary.  A negative thinker focuses only on the faults, shortcomings, and limitations of others and overlooks their positive qualities, strengths and achievements.  Cynical people overgeneralize their bad experiences with a few people and see the whole world in a negative light.  When we see the world as nothing but full of selfish, mean and critical people, we see no hope of ever finding anyone we can trust or lean on.  Pretty heartbreaking situation eh?  If this won't make one lonely, what will?  If the negative thinking about others is at the extreme, one can be lonely in the middle of a roomfull of people  Negative thoughts about others pave the way for helplessness, "Nobody can help me."  Negative thoughts about self and others can also lead to hopelessness, which is the third type of negative thinking.  

Hopelessness can be the ultimate result of negative thinking about future, such as, "What is the use of trying," or, "It's only going to get worse," or, "It's never going to get better."  These thoughts encourage a person to be resigned to fate.  It is a "fatalist thinking," which is a notch higher than the mere "pessimistic thinking."  Negative thoughts can lead to a feeling of powerlessness.  Powerlessness sets in when one feels a total lack of faith in one's own ability to change one's future.  Examples"  "I've gone so deep, I can never dig out."  "I will never get better. "   "This is what I am.  I can never change my temper."  Some negative thoughts have a grim view of our own selves and of the future.  Example:  "They will never accept me."  "If I ever try to come up, they will try to knock me down."  

So those are a few examples of the negative thinking about self, others, and the future.  Let's become an expert in identifying negative thoughts as that is the first major step to change them.  In the next article, I will discuss, how to change the negative thinking.  


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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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