The psychology of negative thinking - Deepstash
The psychology of negative thinking

The psychology of negative thinking

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Negative Feelings Are Natural

Negative Feelings Are Natural

Our thought processes are affected by what we experience around us, and it’s normal to experience both good and bad times. However, when negative thinking becomes the norm, it can contribute to mental health problems including social anxiety, low self-esteem, and even depression. To avoid falling into that pattern, let’s explore the science of negative thinking and how you can develop a more mindful relationship with your thoughts.


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The Science of Negative Thinking

Our thought processes are intimately connected to the way we feel. When you’re feeling content, your thoughts tend to reflect this. In times of happiness, you may be more satisfied with your career progress, perceive your personal relationships as more secure, or have a better body image.

Conversely, if you’re anxious or unhappy, you may notice that negative thoughts start to emerge. This could include feeling stressed about work, worrying about your appearance, or questioning the loyalty of your friends.


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Negative Bias

Negative Bias

If you regularly experience negative thoughts, this cognitive distortion can sadly worsen an already poor mental health, leading to low mood, poor self-esteem, and anxiety.

To make things worse, a bias towards negative thinking will increase the likelihood that you’ll spend time ruminating on mistakes or dwelling on things that didn’t go as well as you had hoped. Negativity bias, or the propensity to focus on negative experiences, can cloud your judgement. Decisions will appear more complex than they truly are, which will make it harder to know how to handle difficult situations.


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The Principles of Managing Negative Thoughts

The Principles of Managing Negative Thoughts

  • Recognize negative thinking when it arises.
  • Ask yourself if the thought is truthful or helpful.
  • If the negative thought provides no value, shift your focus by rewiring your thought patterns.
  • Manage negative thinking by changing the way you respond to it and control how much impact it has.


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How to Transmute Your Negative Thoughts

How to Transmute Your Negative Thoughts

  1. Create distance from your thoughts: Pay attention to your automatic thoughts and label them as subjective thoughts.
  2. Start a thought diary: Journal down the date, the time, the event that triggered an emotion, and the resulting negative thought.
  3. Use de-catastrophizing techniques: Negative thinking often leads to catastrophizing.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I worried about? Is it likely that my worry will come true?
  • What is the worst that could happen if my worry comes true?


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The Bottom Line

Once recognised, negative thoughts can be managed to reduce the impact on your emotional wellbeing. This in turn will break the cycle of negative thinking.

By paying attention to your thoughts and interrogating their validity you can prevent cognitive distortions from skewing your beliefs and impacting your mental health.


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Passionate about fitness and healthy eating.


Mental filtering: when we focus on negative details

Mental filtering: when we focus on negative details

5 Healthy Ways to Deal with Negative Thinking - Nick Wignall

5 Healthy Ways to Deal with Negative Thinking - Nick Wignall

Common Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Common Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Common Signs of Low Self-Esteem

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