We are all on a quest for a peaceful, fulfilled life and strive for this goal, whether consciously or unconsciously. However, often we are simply our own worst enemy and sabotage ourselves with our own negative thoughts. If we all want positive outcomes in our lives, why do these negative thoughts constantly pop up periodically, and is there anything we can do about them and focus on positive thoughts?
Negative thoughts are caused by childhood experiences, stress, exhaustion, illness, lack of sleep, depression, hunger, or the residual feelings from past failures. Combating these negative thoughts and developing a positive mindset will not only make you a happier person but will change your life.
Having negative thoughts, and in particular negative thoughts about yourself, does not make you unique. We all suffer from this mental malady from time to time. This can even be considered healthy to some extent and cause us to pause and re-evaluate our position. However, when the negative thoughts become more prolific than the positive ones, this is where it can become a problem.
Why Do Negative Thoughts Come To Mind?
There are many reasons for negative thoughts coming to mind, and the reasons may vary from person to person. The reasons that negative thoughts are on the increase in your mind could be due to environmental conditions, health issues, or even your past.
Here are some conditions that may increase the number and intensity of negative thoughts
- Your childhood.
- Lack of sleep.
- Past failures.
The way we were brought up and our childhood experiences can influence our thought patterns in later life. The experiences we had can affect the opinion we have of ourselves and our capabilities. These can be positive, or they could be negative.
If you are constantly experiencing thoughts of inadequacy or doubting yourself, it may be that in your childhood, you were constantly being told that you will amount to nothing or that everything that you did was not good enough or didn’t live up to expectations.
When you do not live up to your own expectations or experience a failure, these thoughts may resurface in your mind and plague your thinking.
Negative Thought Caused By Stress
Stress often results in a feeling that your life is out of control and circumstances start to become overwhelming.
This feeling of life being out of control results in anxiety, which spirals out of control into thoughts that you will never master life and will never get ahead of the curve and control your circumstances rather than your circumstances controlling you.
Exhaustion Causes Negative Thoughts
Exhaustion is not just a physical thing but often results in emotional exhaustion. This can contribute to anxiety and thoughts of inadequacy, and feelings of not being able to cope with circumstances of life in general.
When you are exhausted, every situation seems more overwhelming than it actually is, and we often lose perspective of the situation and our ability to deal with the feelings and the circumstance.
Sickness, even just getting a cold, can make us feel weak, depressed, and not able to cope with circumstances and negative thoughts come to mind that become exaggerated in our minds because of our weakened state and our feeling of vulnerability.
In periods of longer illness, negative thoughts can become the overwhelming majority of our thoughts, and the positive ones seem to fade into the background. Fortunately, as our bodies heal, our minds seem to recover as well, and the negative thoughts abate.
The root cause, however, that brought the negative thoughts during the period of illness are still there under the surface and will need to be addressed for complete healing.
Lack Of Sleep
Sleep deprivation does many strange things to our bodies and our minds. Lack of sleep leads to continually diminishing levels and causes us to fixate on negative thoughts that come to mind when we are in this state.
Struggling to get through your day may lead to negative thoughts about being unable to provide for or take care of your family or even sustain relationships.
Getting enough sleep can help to keep dopamine levels balanced, which helps to stabilize emotions and keep your thoughts rational and realistic.
Chronic depression can contribute to constant negative thinking and can become the focus of your thought life. There are many causes for depression, and we all go through periods where we feel low. However, when this mindset becomes an almost permanent state of mind, it fast becomes a problem that cultivates a negative thought life.
Depression can be worked out on your own or making changes in your life, but where the depression becomes chronic, often the only course of action is to seek professional help to treat the condition.
For many people, depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance rather than a psychological one, and it can be treated with medication.
Studies have indicated that there is a correlation between eating and your moods. When you are hungry, your body experiences a dip in blood sugar levels, which promotes a somber, sad mood that can develop into thinking negative thoughts.
Not eating healthy food can result in more frequent mood swings toward the negative because of fluctuating blood sugar levels.
Previous failures in life may lead to negative thoughts and self-doubt, especially when any of the above conditions also prevail in your life. Depression, anxiety, illness, exhaustion, and so on can enlarge past failures in your mind and lead to negativity about your present circumstances.
How Do You Stop Bad Thoughts In Your Head?
Reading about how negative thoughts can pervade your thinking can bring about negative thoughts by itself, so now we will get onto positive thoughts about how you can combat your bad thoughts.
- Take control. When a negative thought comes to mind, actively push it aside and replace it with a positive one. Think about a compliment someone gave you, remember good things you have done or things you have achieved. Taking conscious control and changing your thinking habits may sound to be too simple, but it brings discipline to mind and has shown good results.
- Take action. Do something that makes you happy. When negative thoughts arise, combat them by doing something you enjoy, and that gives you a feeling of satisfaction. Work on your hobby, play a sport, or punch a punching bag. Doing things you enjoy will change your mindset.
- Change the company your keep. Call a friend or go out for coffee with someone who always cheers you up or who you feel good around. This needs to be someone who is of a happy and cheerful demeanor since happiness is contagious.
- Talk to someone. Sometimes you simply need to take the step to talk to someone about your negative thoughts. When you voice them out loud, they seem to lose their power, and you realize they were only thoughts and not your reality!
- Seek professional help. If negative thoughts and depression have become your regular state of mind and nothing seems to be able to bring you out of it, then it may be time to seek professional help for the condition.
What Triggers Overthinking?
Overthinking a problem or a situation often results in coming to unreasonable conclusions, which portrays yourself in a poor light in your own mind.
Overthinking is often triggered by low self-esteem, self-doubt, and the fear of repeating past patterns. It is also a symptom of depression and anxiety and can become a downward spiral for your mental health.
If you tend to overthink a situation or a problem, try a few of these techniques to combat your mind obsessing over things and seeing giants where there are only molehills.
- Focus on the problem only, not what may or may not happen.
- Recognize when you are overthinking and change the subject in your head so you can focus on a different topic.
- Sit back and evaluate your thoughts and challenge their validity. Realizing that you are overthinking is the first step to stop overthinking.
- Focus on the present and not on everything that could or might go wrong or what you could or should have done differently. If the event is in the past, there is nothing you can do to change it.
Overthinking is one of the triggers for negative thinking, and if you can catch yourself as soon as you start going down this road, you can put an end to it before the negative thoughts become like a tsunami in your mind.
Our thought-life can be one of the most challenging parts of our existence to master, especially when those thoughts are negative and become a self-destructive spiral. Taking control of your mind and learning how to combat negative thoughts can give you a brighter, wholly new, positive outlook on life.
It is hard work and takes discipline, but the rewards of a more fulfilled, happier life are definitely worth the effort and time that it will take to get there.
Many people underestimate the power of the human mind, and if you set your mind to make it a personal goal to overcome your negative thoughts, you too will be surprised at the power of your mind and the positive impact it can have on your life!