How to Redefine Negative Thoughts
Larsen Kyle Delos Santos
AB Psychology 3-2
How to Redefine Negative thoughts
Negative thinking defined by an association leaded by Chandria Vennapoosa (2015) on a technical definition as a mental attitude of anticipating the worst possible outcomes on situations, events and circumstances. It is the ability of the mind to produce thoughts that are not deemed favourable to what the person wants. Whenever a challenge arises, a person with negative thinking pre-empts a negative outcome before it has even occurred or being acted upon. Pessimism is a synonymous to negative thinking. The act of pessimism is also a state of mind that lets the individual view life in a negative manner. This negative thinking described as invasive, disturbing, annoying and unwelcoming. This may be in the form of involuntary thoughts, bad images or unlikable ideas that can cause the person to be upset and distressed. In certain instances, negative thoughts may be difficult to be removed from the mind and can be challenging to deal with. However, this does not mean that negative thinking is wrong way to think. Only that its useless for improving your life, and that it doesn’t make very much sense to do, especially when you consider that you can think in other ways. A one of an example of it is the ‘a glass half full or half empty’. If you think about it, you think that it is different. But it an experiment and it is just the same. But this example, set an evidence that most of the people are diiferent or in different state of thinking. This half full and half empty, if you think about half full, it is naturally makes you happier, while looking at the glass as half empty, you naturally makes you feel sad and depressed. Then what is the sense in looking at the glass half empty?
Negative thoughts are associated with negative feelings such as sadness, anxiety, anger and hopelessness. Often we are not aware of our negative thoughts as they occur automatically, seem reasonable and believable. The worse we feel, the more likely we are to think negatively and believe these thoughts to be true, even though they are unreasonable and unrealistic. Negative thoughts are experienced by all of us at some time but are more prevalent and extreme whenever we feel stressed, anxious, irritable or depressed. Although we all experience the feeling of being in negative thinking, if you are constantly experiencing depression, anxiety and anger that is occasionally coming even if there is no specific reason and it is affecting your life, there is some chance that you are engaging in an excessive amount of negative thoughts because somehow, this are the products of negative thinking. Example, fear of being late because of the thought that you will be fired. Thinking that being late is the key to be fired. This fear is an example of negative thinking. Scrolling on your newsfeed and perceiving that the world is full of war and there is no other way to get over it. Another is when your friend cancels your phone calls and you had a feeling of being rejected and this turns you to be an introverted person because of the fear of being rejected again. This feeling or fear is one of the simple examples of negative thinking but we don’t notice it because of it is not obvious that this thinking or feeling is negative. Psychologists have found that we frequently fall into what are called ‘cognitive errors’ or ‘cognitive traps’. Studies have shown us that unpleasant emotions such as anxiety, sadness and anger colour or affect how we perceive the world by filtering out disconfirming evidence against our automatic thoughts. In fact, once you get used to changing your negative thinking, you will probably notice that you were not very objective in how you perceived a situation. Thus, unpleasant emotions filter out disconfirming evidence against our automatic thoughts, which keep us from being objective. So if you felt anxiety most of the time or even in small things, there is a chance that you are falling into thinking traps, which are preventing into seeing things realistically and objectively. For example you had a serious injury. So our mind focusing that the injury and the danger has its real purpose. However, if we don’t catch the process during our everyday life, chances are we will see danger everywhere and end feeling anxious all of the time. There are some types of negative thinking, the Mind Reading, Labelling, Fortune Telling, Catastrophising, Overgeneralising, All-Or-Nothing thinking, Ignoring the Positive, Emotional Reasoning, Personalising, Should and Musts.
Types of Automatic Negative Thoughts or Thought Traps
First of this is the Mind Reading. This is when you believing that you know what is others thinking. This comes like a paranoid that causes to over-thinking. For example, you think that other think that you are stupid even if it is not or it is. Another type of it is the Labelling, this is a perfect example of self-judgement. But this judgement comes to be a negative one judgement. For example calling yourself a stupid when you take a failed action even if it just a small failure. But this labelling, not just only in yourself but a judgement in others too. Calling others, or judging others, in a negative way too. And then the Magnification/Minimisation, this type is a tendency to exaggerate the importance of negative information or experiences, while trivializing the significance of positive information or experiences. Another is the Fortune telling, this type is just predicting the future in negative way. For example “I can’t make it”. Then, Catastrophising, this is also an example of paranoid thinking, but different from the Mind Reading, this is an over prediction. For example, your husband is home late from work and imagining there is an accident and your husband is the main victim on it. In short, it is a thinking of a universe instead of just a planet. Another type is Overgeneralising and it is the most common out of all negative thinking types. It is the type of negative thinking that if you had a failure, you think that you will never make it right again and you can’t get over it. For example, you failed the exam of first term in a semester and thinking that you can’t pass your subject because you will never make it. Sixth is the All-or-Nothing Thinking, this is the setting in a specific things like if you see black or any dark colors represent for you as a failure and for white and any light and lively colors as a success. Positives, it is when you just focusing on the negative in an situation rather than seeing the whole picture. For example, you had a ninety-eight out of on hundred items score in an exam and you hate yourself because of your two wrong answers. Emotional Reasoning, this is using your feeling, emotions or moods in predicting what will happen or happening around you. For example is when you feeling uptight so something dreadful will happen today. And lastly is the Shoulds and Musts, it is setting certain rules thinking that things must to has a certain way to be right, example of it is by setting a rules like, you must review whole midnight expecting that you will be perfect on your exam. These types of negative thoughts are commonly done by everybody but it is not too obvious because these scenarios are just common in ours.
Negative Thoughts according to Cognitive Therapy
However, in cognitive therapy shows us that what we think leads us to our emotion. Do situations cause our emotions? It is probably safe to say that the majority of people believe that the emotions are the direct result of the events that we experience as shown in the model below. So it is said that negative emotion is an automatic reaction of ours. However one of the most influential and radical advances in psychology was the discovery of the effect that thoughts, beliefs and perception have on our emotions. Thus, this statement of cognitive therapy is partially correct. So although a situation may have some bearing on how we feel, by far the biggest effect comes from our interpretation of the event, that is the thougths, beloiefs and perceptions that go through our minds about the situation. This breakthrough was extremely exciting to psychologists, as we could now give hope to people suffering from psychological problems. Here is one of the Example of (C.T.) Cognitive Therapy of how thoughts influence emotions and our behaviour. Let’s say that you are waiting for a friend to meet you for a dinner at 6:00pm. It’s now 6:30pm and they still have not shown up. The table below will demonstrate how different thoughts can lead to different emotions while the situation remains the same.
Situation Automatic Thought Emotion
A friend is late for a dinner. I hope he is alright and nothing happened. Anxiety
A friend is late for a dinner. He’s always late! Anger or Frustration
A friend is late for a dinner. I guess he doesn’t like me and doesn’t want to be my friend anymore. Sad or Depressed
You may have noticed in the model above that thoughts are labelled as ‘automatic thoughts’. Automatic thoughts can be thoughts, mental images or pictures, memories or even physical sensations that go through our minds. Physical Psychologists call them ‘automatic’ because they pass quickly to our minds and didn’t think and not aware of passing it. Automatic Thoughts are also a thing that in time change and transform into negative thoughts. But this concept can be difficult to grasp because negative thoughts only develop in repeated events and experiences. Let’s see of this example can help in our observation in changing automatic thoughts into negative thoughts. For example you criticize by your boss at work, so you might have the thought “I can’t do anything right!” every time you made even the slightest mistake. This could develop into automatic thought that every time that you faced a similar experience you will have a mistake and never be right again. This led you to think that every time you will have a mistake, you have a thought that you will be criticized too. The thoughts are also automatic because our minds is limitless so it can hold so much information at a time. Our mind develops patterns or short cuts to interpret our individual reality that cause to be our automatic reaction in a particular event. In case of these automatic thoughts, again, we are not aware of them. It is quick and automatic. But this negative thinking has its unhelpful thinking styles that led it into negative thinking or negative thoughts.
Unhelpful Thinking Styles
We have spent some time looking at looking how low mood and anxiety can affect the process of thinking and lead people to think negatively thoughts more. However, in research also states that depression, anger and anxiety not only affect directly the thinking of a people to be negative, but also the style of thinking. This states that it is not direct to be negative thought but it is said to be Thinking Styles first before it being negative. For instance, someone with depression is more likely to dwell or ruminate the idea about the past, someone with anxiety is more likely to worry about the future. Perfectionism can also be an unhelpful style of thinking and can lead people to experience low mood, irritability and anxiety. Rumination involves thinking repeatedly about past events, some people call it dwelling on things or analysing things. When you have a low mood, mostly you engage in it. This type of thinking in an attempt to make sense of their past and why bad things have happened to them. Some people with depression also tend to believe that dwelling on past events can help them to reach a better understanding of their problems and make them feel better. However, dwelling on the past and focusing on why bad things have happened doesn’t always help us to move forward. In fact there are many researches that stand as evidence that ruminating is an unhelpful in thinking and also maintains the idea of the depression. Overthinking and over analysing the past events and experiences mostly bad happenings doesn’t help to make us feel better. Worrying, when people are anxious about the future they are tend to feel being worried. This anxiety help them to think that worrying is a helpful thing that help them to do more about something or in specific scenarios. They also think that this worrying help them to prepare, analyse more and solve their problems. In fact worrying doesn’t help us to solve our problems. Instead, worrying tend to maximize our anxiety and cause it to do nothing and just worrying about it. This worrying tend also to less able to cope in fact the worst did happen. In one of the research, in able to cope with this worrying, a researcher said that you must set a “worrying time”. This involves a setting of 10 minutes to worry about something. Write in a clear paper all of your worries and then after 10 minutes, this worries that you jot all down, answer it and then after, you must do an action and solve it one by one. One thing, you must one by one it because if you are panicked you don’t know how you’ll start it. But if you can’t deal with your worry all you need to do is to just worry and let your worry do something about it and then focus on other thing that you deal with because if you worry more and knowing that you can’t deal with it, you can’t also do something else because you are focused on worrying about specific thing. Some of the people use this technique, tend to worry less and do more. Perfectionism, there are three ways in being perfectionist we can believe that (1) we have a high expectations of ourselves and become critical when we do not meet these expectations. For example, you are one of the top student on you class specifically the top 1, and then you had an subject that you know that it is at risk so you may think about this and then you do anything just to stand on your place as top 1. (2) We have high standards for other people and become critical of them when we feel that they do not meet them. For example you have a boyfriend that has a much effort just to make you happy. And then your anniversary came and he didn’t have a surprise or any gifts on you so you had a disappointed feeling on him. (3) Other people have high expectations of us and can lead us to feel rejected, ashamed or angry if we think that we have not achieved what is expected of us. Thinking this way can lead to low mood and anger. This is because we no longer get any enjoyment out of what we do because we are too busy about the outcome. If this standard doesn’t meet, this led to become critical about you and also in others. When this criticism comes and became negative, you felt disappointed in yourself and feeling down also. If our anger is targeted at other people this can lead us to feeling guilty and damage our relationships. Ultimately this can leave us to have a low self esteem. One of the example of it, is the expectations of your parents. Your parents is a high class doctors in this generation so they want you to be in med school but you know that art and crafts is your passion. But in terms of their expectations and you want them to be happy, you go to medical school and take a medical course. In wanting them to be happy, you tried your best and study well but instead of excelling in this course you get down and failed. This happen because of focusing on the expectations on you not on your happiness.
Consequences and the Power of Negative Thinking
According to Remez Sasson, an online blogger, negative thinking appears to be more prevalent than positive thinking. It seems that with most people, positive thinking requires some effort, whereas negative thinking comes easily, and often, it is uninvited. This has to much to do with education and the environment one has been living in.
If you have been brought up in a happy and positive atmosphere, there is more probability that it will be easier for you to think positively. However, if you have been brought up under poor of difficult situations, you will more probably be more inclined to negative thinking.
We view the world through our predominant mental attitude. If our thoughts are positive, that is fine. But if they are negative, our life and circumstances would probably mirror these thoughts.
If you believe that you are goingv to fail, you are going to fail, you will unconsciously sabotage every opportunity to succeed. If you are afraid of meeting new people or having close relationships, you will do everything to avoid people and relationships, and then complain that you are lonely and nobody loves you.
Often the mind does not judge or examine thoughts and opinions before accepting them. If what it hears, sees and reads is always negative, it accepts negativity as the standard mind set. Learn how to achieve your dreams and goals with the power of creative visualization. Simple visualization techniques to help you improve you life, find love, attract money, and create a successful and satisfying life.
The media constantly bombards the mind with a lot of information about disasters, catastrophes, wars and other unhappy events. This information sinks into the subconscious mind and then manifests as your habitual manner of thinking. Watch and hear the news, because you need to know what is happening in the world. However, be careful not to overdo that. Be careful not to let what you hear and see on the news affect you too much. If you occupy the mind with depressive and pessimistic thoughts, you radiate negative energy into the surrounding world, and therefore, create and recreate more negativity, failures and disasters. The mind is neutral energy. The way you think determines whether the results are positive and beneficial, or negative and harmful. It is the same energy acting in different ways.
The good news is that persistent inner work can change habits of thinking. You must be willing to put energy and time to pursue positive thinking, in order to change your mental attitude. The power of negative thinking is quite strong, but with some effort on your part you can overcome it.
Negative thinking has a great effect on everyone’s life. It leads to failure, unhappiness and lack of satisfaction, to worries and to fears. However, there is no reason to let it affect your life. You can set yourself free from it.
All or nothing thinking is the most common type of negative thinking, and it is a common type of negative thinking, and it is a common cause of anxiety, depression and addiction. All or nothing thinking leads to anxiety because you think that any mistake is a failure. You worry that any mistake may expose you to criticism or judgement. Therefore you don’t give yourself permission to relax and let down your guard. This thinking can lead to depression because when you think you have to be perfect, you feel trapped by your own unrealistic standards. Feeling trapped is one of the known causes of depression. This also can lead to addiction because anxiety or depression feels so uncomfortable that you may turn to drugs or alcohol to escape.
Negative thinking not only leads to unhappiness, it is also an obstacle to self changing. When you think in an all or nothing way, any change feels like a big deal. You can’t see the small steps and you don’t have the energy to take big steps, therefore, you feel stuck.
Benefits of Negative Thinking Affect in depression and anxiety
In the increasing studies on cognitive behavioural therapy for depression and anxiety. Negative thinking and affect is one of the main topics of interest and an important target of clinical intervention. For example, the tendency to interpret a situation more negatively than it actually is in anxiety disorder (Clark, 1986) or unrealistic, lower expectations in an depression (Pyszczynski, Holt, & Greenberg, 1987) are seen as problems that cause depression and anxiety. This could be because negative thinking plays role in maintaining the distressing symptoms (Amir, Foa, & Coles, 1998), triggers maladaptive behaviors (Beck, Brown, Berchick, Stewart, & Steer, 1990), and causes distress to the afflicted individual (Herman, Patrick, Diehr, Martin, Fleck, Simon, & Buesching, 2002) It can be said that there is a tendency for NTA to be regarded as merely negative in clinical settings. Positive aspects of Negative Thinking Affects may have posiive aspects as well. For example, some people may find enhanced empathy toward others by experiencing negative emotions or some may make efforts to avoid repeating similar negative situations. In other possible cases, a temporary depressive condition causes people to rest so that they do not incur extra costs and are able to recuperate before exposing to a new area. Anxiety could have an adaptive aspect as well, because people with anxiety may be more cautious and behave in ways that avoid possible danger.
Several studies in psychology, have pointed out that there are some benefit in Negative Thinking Affect. Norem and Cantor (1986) conceptualized “defensive pessimism” and pointed out the benefit of thinking pessimistically. They showed that some people set unrealistically low expectations prior to entering a stuation in order to prepare themselves for potential failures and motivate themselves to work harder to work harder in order to avoid any failure. Norem and Illing (2004) revealed that defensive pessimist perform arithmentic tasks worse when in a positive mood than in a negative mood. As these studies illustriates, Negative thinking affect is not always negative, another empirical study conducted by Linley and Joseph (2004) demonstrated that people can change positively after experiencing trauma and adversity. They pointed out that some cognitive and affective processes are mediated between traumatic events and positive change. These studies suggest that the benefit of negative thinking affect may be revelant to these processes. The same argument is found in evolutional psychology. That is, it would be impossible for Negative Thinking Affect to remain present in human beoings without providing any benefit, although NTA observed in depression and anxiety causes distress. In other words, negative affect has potential function that could protect or defend an individual’s resources (Sloman, 2000). Keller and Nesse (2005) studied the functions of the different symptoms of low mood. They revealed that seven symptoms (i.e., sadness, crying, self-reproach, fatigue, pessimism, low appetite and self disturbance) have individual positive functions apart from their negative functions. For example, sadness motivates the avoidance of actions that could lead to future losses,while crying elicits empathy and other types of comforting behavior from observers, and helps to strengthen bonds between people. What types of bene?ts of NTA are recognized? Sakamoto and colleagues asked Japanese university students to write essays on the bene?ts of NTA, such as depression and anxiety, without providing any speci?c instructions (Sakamoto, Moriwaki, Sasaki, Miyata, Kobori,Bando,Sato,Okumura,&Tanno,2006). They obtained many descriptions of the bene?ts of NTA, which they then summarized into 30 subcategories and 12 superordinate categories. The 12 superordinate categories were labeled as follows: 1. Self-inspection, 2. Self-acceptance and Self-expression, 3. Desire to Improve Oneself, 4. Learning, 5. Protecting/ Defending the Self, 6. Defending One’s Selfesteem, 7. Mental Growth, 8. Catharsis, 9. Facilitating Understanding of Others and World, 10. Fostering Better Human Relationships, 11. Self-presentation, and 12. Miscellaneous. To provide an actual example, individuals who recognized the bene?t of “Defending One’s Self-esteem,” in the sixth category of Sakamoto et al. (2006), try to take advantage of negative expectations to defend their self-esteem when a negative situation occurs. In this case, these individuals believe that the effects of NTA support their selfesteem. This study is noteworthy for revealing various recognized bene?ts of NTA.
How to Change Negative Thinking
The step’s on it goals is to be realistic and objective as possible. Sometime we know that life is tough reality but chances are you will not be fooled by changing your thinking if you are facing real-life problems. For example, someone close to you has passed away, it is normal to feel sad or even quite down about it for some time. So in fact, if there is a real problem affecting on how we feel, we do not want to sweep it under the rug. We want to know about it so it can be resolved. So let’s get started. (1) Pay attention to your self talk. Remember that self talk is the more effective thing that you can use. Self talk is you inner dialogue. It is the words that you say to yourself after the situation, the automatic thoughts and beliefs that lead you to your self emotion you experienced. Anytime you notice that you are experiencing an unpleasant emotion, stop and ask yourself what you were just thinking about. In an additional information, studies have demonstrated that if asked to remember words from the list containing both positive and negative words, clinically depressed patients will remember mainly negative words compared to non-depressed people. However, if non-depressed people are then made to feel sad or down, they will then also tend to remember more negative words. This research demonstrates that feelings of depression will make us focus on the negative and filer out the positive. (2) Pick out the thoughts that really make you feel the emotion the most. Here’s an example, you get into an argument with your boss and you feel anxious. Make some sentences that and pick of these hot thought that would likely make you feel most anxious. (3) Challenge the negative thoughts. Write down the evidence for and against the hot thoughts. Can you see the situation differently? Remember that we all make cognitive errors fall into thinking traps sometimes. It might be helpful to identify which one you have made. Look at all the evidence. What is the balanced or realistic way of looking at things? (4) Rate how do you feel. Did the emotion decrease in intensity? Did any other positive emotion come, such as relief, as a result of changing your negative thinking? A hint, if you have a hard time thinking realistically, consider writing down your challenges tto your negative thoughts on your cue card. Carry the card with you and use it if you are having a hard time challenging your negative thoughts. Here are some final tips to help you out, Practice makes perfect. So keep on practicing! Practice! Practice! Practice! Remember that automatic thoughts are like reflexes. Don’t worry about what your automatic thoughts are. Give yourself a ‘free pass’ on them. What is important is what you do afterwards with your negative thoughts now that you are aware of them. When you look at the alternative or balanced way of seeing things, don’t worry if your emotion does not go down to 0%. If you see a decrease, it probably means that you are being more objective. Remember that the goal is to be as realistic and objective as possible. This means that it doesn’t need to be perfect always but most important is you tried your very best to do it successfully. Automatic thoughts are not necessarily truths. It doesn’t mean that they will come true because sometimes, it is just in your head and thinking that you are thinking about it. If you find it useful, label your common thinking traps. Do you make certain ones most of the time? Keep these in your mind. Some automatic thoughts are positive. When changing our automatic thoughts we want to focus on the negative ones, specially the hot thoughts.
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