The Cleveland Clinic posted an article today on “How to Turn Around Your Negative Thinking“.
According to the article, negative thinking makes you feel blue about the world, about yourself, about the future. It contributes to low self-worth. It makes you feel you’re not effective in the world.
Psychologists link negative thinking to depression, anxiety, chronic worry and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But almost all human beings contend with it — even those born with a positive outlook on life.
It’s because of the way our brains are constructed. Our amygdala and limbic system are built to notice threats, to protect our survival. In prehistoric times, it may have been a beautiful day on the savannah, but when we were stalked by a predator, we were trained to notice that danger.
Today, the same parts of our brain are active even when physical threats are minimal. The threats we deal with today are more cognitive — involving finances, whether we’re loved, whether we’re succeeding at work. They can set our hearts racing. That’s why we can panic on a Sunday night just thinking about work.
When you get distracted by a negative thought, notice something to engage with in the present. What are you seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, feeling? It’s called practicing Mindfulness.
Mindfulness also helps us program in ourselves a sense of that which is right. We can systematically notice what’s going well in the present. We can notice something favorable about each person we encounter. Words of admiration help us notice the rightness of things.
We can keep a gratitude journal, looking for those events that did work out. Doing this right before we go to sleep is especially helpful.
When we change habits, we change brain circuitry. It’s hard to exchange bad habits for good ones because they exist deep within the brain. Using Mindfulness helps us accept things as they are, rather than always being in fix-it mode.
So whether you are thinking of 3-5 things you are grateful for or being mindful of what is happening around you at the moment, the simple act of changing your thoughts can change your attitude and possibly your entire life.
To view the article from the Cleveland Clinic, click the link below: