3 min read
Unless you’re into meditation and do it often, you’ll probably find that your brain just works on autopilot and there you are, believing your thoughts, believing your emotions and probably not feeling too good most of the time. If you’re a negative thinker, and over-thinker or just a I-don’t-like-my-brain thinker then you’re in for a treat. Negative thinking is actually amazing for you and here are three ways you can use it to your advantage and stop feeling so annoyingly frustrated all the time.
Firstly, this isn’t about changing your brain to think positively all the time. It’s impossible to be constantly positive and it actually is a mean thing for us to do to ourselves. If we’re consistently striving for happiness, it highlights subconsciously that we’re lacking something - hat we don’t already have enough to be happy. That we’re not already amazing enough to be loved. What this is about, is trying to get a bit more balance to thinking positively most of the time and the rest of the time just caring a little less.
I’m a massive overthinker and I spend a lot of time by myself (recipe for disaster for us overthinkers out there). This has meant I’ve had to work really hard to listen and be aware of my thoughts in order to stop overthinking so much and start moving forward in a happier way. I used to visualise a happy future and each time my brain would start thinking of all the tiny details, all the little things of what could do wrong, why it would go wrong and it would circle round in this negative thinking cycle (completely defeating the point of visualisation). It wasn’t until I stopped and was aware of what I was doing that I was able to see through the fluff in my mind and change it up.
Negative thinking is just our brains way of surviving. We are wired to see and predict danger in order to stay alive - fortunately we’re not typically in life or death situations all day every day so there’s not a massive need to consistently put our mind and body under that much stress. Because of that, we’re always going to be negative thinking. It will always be a part of us, but rather than judge and reprimand ourselves for worrying, getting angry or frustrated which then turns into more worry, anger and frustration, we can use negative thinking to our advantage. This means we’ll start taking charge of our life and stop sweating the small stuff like that annoying dog barking, our irritating child that won’t listen or our perfectionist employer that won’t let off.
To start with, our awareness of this negative thinking is a power in itself. Whenever we start to think negatively, all we need to do is stop, collaborate and listen… (ice ice babyyyy). Honestly though, all we need to do is stop and listen then we can start collaborating with that negative thinking rather than allowing ourselves to believe it as true. Negative thinking usually shows up because we fear something in some way. Let’s say we’re looking to get a promotion, or more income. Our negative voice pops up and says ‘you won’t be able to do that, you’re not worthy, you’re not doing enough, that’ll never happen’ for no other reason than it’s there to keep us ‘safe’. If we don’t step our of our comfort zones, we stay within comfort and we stay within survival. By listening, we become aware of that fear which allows us to take charge. It allows us to see that it is just fear, it is not the truth and we can start to make a plan to overcome it.
Secondly, negative thinking shows us what we could care less about. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** is a perfect guide to this (totally recommend giving it a read, you can find it by clicking on the title). I think negatively about my ability to make millions of dollars. I know it’s totally possible because other people do it, but somehow my brain always tells me I’ll never make it. There has been no evidence to prove this because I’ve always been a go-getter and I find a way to be successful no matter what but I still have that negative thinking that tells me it will never happen. My negative thinking here is actually showing me that I should probably care a little less about it. That as long as I have what I need in life, then who gives a (as the book says) f***? It also shows me that I could probably do with all the abundance I already have in my life. So I care a little less about becoming a millionaire and care a little more about how great my life actually already is.
Finally, negative thinking is a tool for learning about ourselves - we can use it for self-improvement. As soon as we’re aware of our tendency to think negatively, we provide ourselves with an opportunity to improve in some way, with this brings fulfilment, pride and satisfaction. Using my above example, I can use my negative thinking to learn more about ‘making money’. I can use it spur me on to make more connections with potential clients. The negative thinking could encourage me to look a little deeper into myself and find out why I think I’m not worthy of making a million dollars, or maybe why that even seems to be important. Our negative thinking is an amazing indication of what we need to learn in order to move forward.
Next time we start to think negatively, let’s just stop for a moment and think about how we could benefit from it. Could we switch it up and just listen without attachment or judgement? Maybe we could just care a little less about it? Or maybe it’s a fabulous opportunity for us to learn and grow? Negative thinking doesn’t have to be bad, and thinking negatively doesn’t make us weak, bad or troubled. Let’s start using it to our advantage and moving into a more productive, more harmonious and more beautiful headspace.