We’ve been raised on negativity
Have you ever been through a negative thoughts spiral? Those moments when no matter what you do, you can’t stop thinking. Your thoughts are bad, negative, toxic, and they keep popping in your brain, and they loop, these thoughts just pop over and over again. They just do not stop.
In these moments, there is no bright side. Everything is just bad, sad, dull, plain, boring, negative… Nothing can go right. And if things do go right, they will not go right for long.
It’s probably just a depressive phase, right? Nothing to worry about. But it just keeps happening to you. And it’s bad. And every time it happens, it makes you feel worse. It’s getting to the point where these thoughts spirals are part of who you are.
Maybe they do affect you more than you think. Do they happen more often when you feel stressed? Well, maybe you’re unconsciously turning off opportunities because they’ll introduce more stress in your life. Do they happen more often when you’re surrounded by people? Maybe you’re unconsciously isolating yourself to cope.
But is it really coping? Is getting rid of the triggers the healthy way to get out of these spirals? That just seems like denial for me. Do you cut your head off when you’re having a headache? Maybe the solution to ease the pain would be to get some more sleep or to stop looking at a computer screen for a little while. Or maybe the cause is a little deeper and maybe consulting a ophthalmologist could help. Thoughts spirals work the same way. You need to understand these triggers and learn how to cope with them directly.
We have been internalising negativity for years
I don’t have the solution. But I’ve realised something while trying to come up with one. I’ve realised that we’re usually defined by negativity. We let negativity define who we are and how we perceive things.
We have been taught to be negative. We are daily exposed to negative things and speeches. We are letting ourselves become negative people. But what is truly important though, is to be self aware that this negativity is there. It is everywhere!
Just think of the last discussions you had over coffee with some friends. Did you complain about stuff? Like the bad weather? Your boss? Wars? Climate change? Did you have any positive talking at all? Did you talk about actual amazing things that happened to your life or to the world? You probably did. And I really hope you did. But I am sure that you remember more easily the negative parts of your discussions. Think about the news. 90% of it is just about sad things that happen in the world. Because negativity sells. Because negativity makes you feel scared. And if you’re scared, you need to be comforted. And that’s what consumerism and entertaining are for. But that is a totally different topic and it’s not the point of this article.
I am not saying that you should stop caring about the bad things that happen in the world. I am not saying that you should stop being affected by the way your boss treats you. All I am saying is that all this negativity should not define who you are.
We let all these negative traits of our lives define what we think, how we act and what we say. Negativity, without us noticing, just becomes the center piece of our lives.
Negativity makes it impossible to escape. Negativity creates a vicious circle.
Why is that bad? Because it just biases our thoughts and perceptions. Negativity acts like a prism and shapes our world in a sad and depressing way.
When you’re going through a thoughts spiral, you cannot even rely on your perceptions nor on the ‘reality’ you’re perceiving, because even your perception will not be reliable as it will do everything to find evidences of those intrusive thoughts you’re having in your surroundings.
The negativity bias just erases everything we would normally rely on in order to get better. It makes our surroundings scary, dangerous and unsafe. It just makes every bright opportunity disappear. In no time, we feel like everything in the universe is conspiring against us. It makes it seem like everything is going to go in the wrong direction no matter what.
Shifting from a negative identity to a positive one takes lots of effort. You have to always keep in mind that things might not be as bad and dark as you think. You have to keep in mind that naturally, your perception will be fooled by the negativity inside of you. You have to change the words you use when you’re talking about yourself. You have to get the negativity out of your identity. You have to stop defining yourself by using negatives. The list is long, and the list is probably endless if we want to get rid of every single bit of negativity that we have internalised and linked to our own identity and shape of mind.
What can we do about it?
I am not recommending to start changing everything about yourself. I am not asking you to start seeing your life in a total different way. No one can change their thinking habits quickly like that.
However, trying to be mindful of that, a couple times a day can be a good start. Maybe try to keep in mind that you might be more negative than you think. Maybe try to journal about it: when you feel like your mind is getting towards a negative path, or when you’re feeling like you’re going through a thoughts spiral, take a notebook and write down what you think. This way, you will get rid of all the negativity in your brain. This way you will get out of these spirals. It will makes your thoughts a lot clearer and you will even notice, by reading back your journal entries how full of negativity you were.
You might think that this article is total non-sense. You might think that you are not a negative person, that you’re not affected by all of that. But believe me, you probably are. Just do simple exercises: try to be extra mindful. Try to self reflect, try to think about things that made you smile during the day. Try to think about nice conversations you had with friends or coworkers. Try to sort out the positive from the negative. And try to balance everything. Were you really more exposed to positivity than negativity?
If the answer is yes, I’m very happy for you, you’re probably living a simpler and happier life than most of us. If the answer is no, maybe try to work on that then. I cannot promise that it will cure all your problems, but it certainly will not hurt.
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