We all think negative thoughts from time to time. However, if negative thinking has become our predominant habitual thought pattern then it can prevent us from living from a place of true wellness and mental rest.
Our thoughts are powerful determinants of our overall happiness and experience of life. When we dwell on negative thoughts for too long they can change our moods and emotions as well as our behaviours. In fact, we can even find that our negative thinking becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. What we feared would happen can turn out to be the case just by way of natural gravitation towards that particular outcome. Saying that, negative experiences happen to all without any input from us, but it is often our perspective which determines how that experience will ultimate affect us and our health.
Why Negative Thinking is Bad for Your Health
I meet so many patients who dwell on negative thinking, whether it’s about past experiences or potential future occurrences. They often become anxious and find it difficult to switch off their thinking at night when it comes time to sleep. The result is a downward spiral of fatigue and anxiety, which often results in them coming to see me for a sleep cure. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. The ultimate cure is about identifying and changing their thinking towards a particular situation in their lives that they are worried about and are dwelling on.
Research has started to suggest that negative thinking can actually be toxic to our brain cells, causing inflammation and permanent damage. This has been suggested to lead to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression as well as other brain conditions. The suggestion that thoughts actually cause release of toxic neurochemicals in our brain is a frightening one.
Sometimes negative thinking can be subconscious, you may not be aware that you are thinking a particular way. This is often due to the fact that thinking negatively has become a habit and a learned behaviour often passed down from our parents. It can be especially difficult to identify subconscious negative thinking. This is where some honest self-evaluation comes in.
It’s important to identify if we have established conscious or subconscious patterns of negative thinking and break these before they break our spirits and well-being. Sometimes, especially if we have hit rock bottom, we need extra help in the form of cognitive behaviour therapy. As the name suggests this type of therapy looks to address how our negative thinking has impacted our behaviours. So what are some common patterns of negative thinking?
Gratitude = the Ultimate Cure for Negative Thinking
It can be helpful to write a gratitude list every day to help break negative thinking patterns. For example writing the top five things you’re grateful for at the start of the day you will notice you’ll begin the day in a better frame of mind. We have so much to be grateful for but many times we do not stop to appreciate these things. I recall a patient of mine who found himself extremely stressed about a situation in his life. He was facing bankruptcy and kept repeating over and over, ‘I’m going to lose everything.’ This worry had led to anxiety, difficulty sleeping, weight loss, and overwhelming fatigue. So not only was his situation not the best, it was compounding through feeling physically terrible.
When I asked him to write a list of 10 things he was still grateful for in his life, it surprised him to realise he had not lost ‘everything’ but rather had lost control over one aspect of his life. He slowly started to gain perspective that there were still things in life worth living for. There were things that were still enjoyable such as his children, his wife, a supportive church group, and his hobby road cycling. He realised he was worrying about potential loss of material things. They were things he had worked hard for but, ultimately, were not the things that mattered most to him. This is often the case, so when writing your gratitude list, consider if you spend a lot of time worrying about things that really matter.
Health FACT . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Studies show that high levels of stress can cause brain cells to shrink and brain connections to deteriorate.
Holistic Medical Doctor