Why do I feel so negative all the time?
It’s normal to have negative thoughts – after all, nobody can be actively positive and happy all the time. Even life’s optimists have moments when they really can’t look on the bright side.
However, sometimes it feels like the glass is permanently half empty, and as much as you’d like to change your perspective and see it as half full, this seems impossible. We’ll take a look at why those negative thoughts start to take over, and what you can do to replace them with a more positive outlook again.
Why am I having negative thoughts?
As we said, nobody is permanently positive. Maybe you’re feeling poorly or run down – and let’s face it, the last couple of years haven’t been easy for anyone. It’s natural to feel more pessimistic when things aren’t going so well in our lives. Regular or even constant negative thinking can also be a sign of anxiety, depression, stress or low self-esteem.
This sounds a bit strange, but negativity can also be contagious. If your workplace has a tense atmosphere, or your WhatsApp groups are being grumpy, or your social media feeds seem rather doom-laden, this can start to lower your own mood.
Unhelpful thoughts start to become a problem when we can’t control them. They can also lead to negative forecasting, which is when we feel fearful that nothing good will happen or that all our outcomes will be poor.
But it’s OK. If you recognise that you’re having negative thoughts (which you probably have by the time you’ve read this far), you can work on replacing them with more helpful ways of thinking.
How do I stop having negative thoughts?
At Great Minds Clinic, I’ve worked with many people who have unhelpful thought patterns, and this often goes hand-in-hand with anxiety or low mood. As well as starting on a therapy journey, there are a few things you can begin to do yourself.
Keep a positivity journal - Every day, towards the end of the day, jot down three things that went well. It’s a really good habit to get into, and means that you finish the day on a positive note. You can write them down, or use an app, or even treat yourself to a gorgeous new notebook…
Reach out for the things you love - Be more conscious about the positive things in your life. Take time for some self-care, and to think about those little things that make you happy: the fresh scent of your shower gel, clean bedding, the smell of coffee brewing, the sun on the leaves…
The mindful principle of focusing on those little, happy things is a great way to start to train your brain towards positivity. You know what we Brits do really well? We love a cup of tea and a biccie. The ability to truly enjoy a simple cuppa is actually a really healthy mindset.
Give those negative thoughts permission (but on your terms) - Let yourself have that negative thought time. Allow yourself five or ten minutes a day to let rip with those unhelpful thoughts. Write them down if that helps. Permitting yourself this time can free your mind for the rest of the day (try it – you’ll be surprised how this negative period starts to dwindle with time).
Find new thoughts that make you happy - The problem with negative thoughts is that simply by thinking of them, you give them life. If I say, “Don’t think of a giraffe”, what instantly springs (or steps) into your mind? Yes, a giraffe. But, if I say “Think of a hippo”, the giraffe is gone, as if by magic. Instead of trying to block out thoughts, we replace them with new ones.
While you’re trying to form a more positive mindset, consciously focus on thoughts that make you happy Think about your pet, good food, the book you’re reading, time in the garden. Solution-focused therapy can really help with this practice.
Tips for dealing with negativity from others
What if we’re dealing with that contagious negativity we mentioned earlier? This can be common at work, college or even the school gates. Try not to judge, as we don’t know the backstory behind the negative person’s behaviour.
Simply be kind, avoid any drama or being drawn into conflict or “sides”, and if you really find that a person’s negativity is affecting you, gently limit contact. A lot of people decide to leave social media for this reason.
How solution-focused therapy can help you manage negative thoughts
The solution-focused approach is perfect for managing negative thought. The approach centres around replacing negative thoughts with positive future goals.
We start by acknowledging that there is a thought pattern that you want to change. We can then examine what you want to be different, and that becomes your goal. We then take steps to move your actions, behaviours and thoughts towards this goal.
Let’s have a positive chat
If you’re struggling with a negative mindset at the moment, take a positive step and contact me for a confidential chat.