ADDICTED TO NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
By Reydon Stanford
The morning begins with our minds "booting up" like a computer to start the day. Our hard drive of memories
is loaded, reminding us how to walk to the restroom, where the kitchen is, how to start the coffee pot and plan for another
day. Oftentimes however, we struggle to take control of our thinking processes and instead allow them to 'free flow,'
as we attempt to function in a somewhat productive way. Free-flow thinking can be one of our worst enemies.
Days when we allow our minds to 'free flow,' can be days filled with confusion, anxiety, worry and quite simply…aggravation
as we tend to 'react' to life more than living life productively. Imagine a person who starts their day simply 'reacting'
to life. First of all their mind is in defensive mode, trying to prepare to face any unknown threat, problem, confrontation
or potential disaster that might be looming. Let’s face it, that's not really a fun way to live out a day.
Let’s take a hypothetical day for a girl named Lucy, who allows her mind to free flow. She wakes up anxious about
getting herself ready to be at work on time. As she is getting ready for work, a small disaster strikes. Her blow-dryer
quits working and her long hair is soaking wet. Her otherwise daily routine is now interrupted by a setback. She
goes into full blown 'reaction mode,' and her mind starts racing with all kinds of unpleasant thoughts. 'What will she
look like having to appear in public with wet hair?' 'What if people talk about it behind her back?' 'What if
it gets all frizzy as it dries and leaves her looking like she has a tumbleweed on her head the rest of the day?' 'Could
this day get any worse???' Now she figures that the rest of her day will be filled with other setbacks and her anxiety
and emotional temperature keeps climbing. "This is gonna be a horrible day!" She exclaims as she melts into
tears. Now as she angrily works her way through traffic, she pays little attention to her driving as she is still upset
over her wet hair. She can’t focus on her meeting later with her boss, she forgets an appointment she has with
her dentist and worse…she has forgotten her cell phone at home, all due to her reaction to wet hair.
Sound familiar? We have all had those days when our mental and emotional reaction to an interruption causes our minds
to linger in defense and reaction mode…causing the rest of our day to feel worse and worse. Sadly, many people
live out their entire lives with day after day of such torment, simply because they have not learned how to take charge of
their thoughts and how to control them.
THE REACTIVE MIND
Again, the mind set in 'reaction mode,' is often a mind filled with all kinds of unhappy and fearful thoughts. While
it is true that each of us will find ourselves reacting to certain unexpected events within our day, not everyone 'reacts'
the same way. I believe we can learn to empower our minds to begin a day being in 'action mode,' taking more control
over our thoughts, regardless of the interruptions that may come our way. It’s not just positive thinking for
the sake of positive thinking…but a real tool to harness our emotions.
The reactive mind is vulnerable
to negative thoughts (and therefore emotions), that rob us of peace, joy of the day, thankfulness and productivity and instead
leave us feeling broken, weary, exhausted, angry and empty of passion. These thoughts…when left to 'free flow'
over a period of days, months and years, can cause us to have a very negative view of our life, ourself and others. Not
a pretty picture. In fact, negative thinking can become our most dangerous addiction. To break this addiction
to negative thinking is not easy, but it is well worth the challenge.
THE PROACTIVE MIND
Let’s look back at Lucy's interruption of her blow dryer breaking. Now imagine if she was
a 'proactive thinker,' who realizes that having a backup blow-dryer is a wise decision. Had she developed a 'proactive
mind,' her whole day would have turned out different, simply because she used her mind to prepare for such an inconvenience
and simply reached beneath her bathroom cabinet to get her back up dryer. Problem solved with very little emotional
or mental negative reaction.
Now let’s say Lucy doesn't have a backup blow-dryer, but makes
a conscious decision to not allow this event to ruin her day or put her into a bad mood. Even though it may be a setback,
she chooses to accept it as a challenge, view it with a bit of humor and realize it is simply not the end of the world. She
chooses to move past it, with as little negative impact as possible. That is 'proactive thinking,' and healthy. Again…Lucy
has both choices at her fingertips. To fall apart, or move past it quickly.
How do you know if you are addicted to negative thoughts? Quite simply…by
how you feel emotionally. If you daily feel beaten down, emotionally and mentally exhausted and anxious, chances are…you
are addicted to negative thinking. We must remember that negative thoughts produce negative emotions and therefore…negative
" WE MUST REMEMBER THAT NEGATIVE THOUGHTS PRODUCE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS AND THEREFORE…NEGATIVE
Negative thinking not only affects our personal lives, but also our relationships,
the way we affect other people, our job performance and ultimately our quality of life. The road to failure is often
paved with negative thoughts.
Learning to identify our negative thoughts quickly, (by reading our emotional
temperature), is essential in helping us to break this very bad habit. As humans we are intelligent enough to stop our
negative thoughts and replace them with proactive, positive ones.
SHAPING OUR DAY WITH POSITIVE
Imagine if you awakened every morning and gave yourself a pep talk. "I
was created by God to do amazing things today! Yes, there will be roadblocks and unexpected curves and turns, but I
can handle each one effectively and positively! What I cannot handle, God will, so hello day…here I come!"
Sound corny? How does this sound instead: "Dear God, I feel awful. I am tired, have no energy,
dread this day and wish I could just cover my head back up and sleep through it!" It goes without saying, (but
I will anyway), that is not the best way to feel in the morning of your limited days upon Earth.
It is okay
to know and admit that we’d like to have our own way, all day and that nothing would go wrong. It’s okay
to wish that…but it’s not okay to fall apart when we don’t get it…which is just about every single
day. There are many things I wish were different about life, but that doesn't change the fact that things are the way
they are. What can change…is how I act and react to negative events in my day. Patience is not a gift most
of us are born with…it is a gift that is FORCED upon us.
Negative events happen everyday and we cannot
change that. But we can change how we view them and react to them. "I'm just not a happy person," is
not an excuse for being addicted to negative thinking. In all honesty, negative thinking is lazy thinking, because it
just accepts the worst and takes the beating that accompanies it.
"IN ALL HONESTY,
NEGATIVE THINKING IS LAZY THINKING, BECAUSE IT JUST ACCEPTS THE WORST AND TAKES THE BEATING THAT ACCOMPANIES IT."
Breaking the habit of negative thinking is hard because positive thinking does require work and is not
a product of a lazy mind. Positive thinking is a choice, as I mentioned earlier, and therefore requires us to consciously
look for something positive out of what we usually view as negative. That takes work…but YOU can do it! Just
look at this sentence for a moment: "I am just no good at math." That comment is a comment of a lazy
mind. The truth is, "Math is hard for me, but I can figure it out." That is a comment of a mind accepting
a challenge. A mind determined to be positive.
"I hate this traffic…it’s driving
me crazy!" Or: "I live where there is a lot of traffic so I just need to focus on the cars around me and get
to where I'm going."
Of course this article is meant to help you find a better
life by feeling better about yourself and your day. That truly begins by how you view yourself and your life. You
have the power to feel much better by breaking the addiction to negative thinking. Just give it a try. Begin keeping
a small diary of your thoughts. Then look at them. Which ones were negative and lazy and made you feel awful…and
which ones made you feel more hopeful and happy?
As you begin to change your thinking…your
brain may actually re-wire itself to positive thinking as a habit. Imagine how shocked your friends and family will
be when you make this change. Imagine how much brighter and happier your days will be. Imagine how you will enjoy
life again…or even for the first time. It’s worth it. You can do it.