Pervasive Negative Thinking

I was asked to do a blog on this several weeks ago and I know I used to be far more negative all the time but truthfully? Other than knowing I have a better handle on it now, I could not pinpoint what strategies have worked for me as they are blissfully just “normal” for me now. I’ve been paying more attention to this issue over the past few weeks so I could write this blog.

Pervasive negative thinking is more than just being a pessimist. It is more of a “black cloud” cast over everything and it can often leave you feeling depressed or hopeless. For many it can feel like the negative things in life just never stop, like you never really get a break. Sometimes this is reality for a while but when you go from one bad run to the next bad run, you just may be dealing with some pervasive negative thinking more than just bad luck.

I want to explain this well enough so that an occasional whine with cheese or pity party is looked at as normal. The difference is how you tend to look at things over the longer term. Pervasive negative thinking is not really about what happens to you, it is how you handle it or how you view it.

So let’s do a bit of work here today okay? To help ourselves with those negative thoughts that just seem to swirl around in our heads a little too often for our liking.

Lets start with some facts. I am a realist so facts are my favourite thing!
Did you know that 85% of what we worry about end up having a positive or a neutral outcome? 85%!!! So here we sit worrying about whatever we worry about and it will only come true or be a negative outcome 1.5 in 10 times. Holy crap right?
THEN! As if 85% wasn’t already good enough? If that 1.5 in 10 actually happens? 80% will say they handled it better than they thought they would.
I love facts but I love to be straight too…
All these numbers basically mean that we worry for nothing 85% of the time and then even when the poop DOES hit the fan? We handle it far better than we thought we could or would.
Isn’t that great to know?

Something that is also considered pervasive negative thought is when you just assume the worst will happen. Someone is late getting home and you automatically think they have been in a car accident and you have limbs all over the freeway in your mind. Go ahead and laugh now. I know that you know what I am talking about here.
Bad things do happen but not with the regularity that we expect them too.
When these thoughts come to your mind, come up with alternatives.
Perhaps traffic was bad? Maybe they stopped to get a lotto ticket? They could even just be an inconsiderate nincompoop that just couldn’t be bothered to call to tell you that they were going to stop for a beer after work with friends. You may not LIKE the alternative ideas but none of them include car accidents or limbs.

I love this next one. It is called “learned optimism”. The best part is that you can learn it. You don’t need to be born as one of those occasionally annoying “always happy” people. 😉 You just pictured someone didn’t you! 😀
Back to my point. Learning optimism is done by taking the way you see a situation in a negative light and flipping it around to something more positive.
Let’s say you fail a test. We might be tempted to say we are stupid, should have studied more (even if we studied plenty), assume ourselves to be a failure and other negative conclusions.
The trick here is to stop taking things so personally. LOTS of people fail tests. They are not all a bunch of idiots. Many people study but still can not pass a test. Does this make them worthless? Hint: No, it doesn’t. 😉
Most negative experiences are really just unlucky situations. It is not personal nor is it permanent.

Some people have a hard time with this one but I am telling you, it works. Rather than worrying about some future event and trying to just forget about it (like that ever works?), think about it. Really think about it.
Are you afraid that your house will burn down? Many people are. Not worrying won’t help you here so why not think about the worst then plan for it?
Go buy good fire detectors for every room. Change the batteries every time the clocks jump forward or fall back (every 6 months). Have fire extinguishers available in worrisome areas like your kitchen or workshop. Buy appliances with automatic shut off functions. Practice escape routes. You will not be able to stop every fire that happens to people or even yourself but if you are ready and have made plans for this just in case? You will be able to rest far easier.

I think I will finish up here for today. That is enough information. On Friday I will continue with another train of thought. How to dispute your thoughts. Everyone “loves” a good fight in their own head right? 😉

Just remember… Most negative experiences are really just unlucky situations.
It is not personal nor is it permanent.

Here is a great word chart with some words to help you re-frame the way you see something. It has helped me. Replacing words

6 responses to “Pervasive Negative Thinking

  1. Someone recently gave me the advice to “talk to yourself the way you would talk to someone else.”

    Now when I find myself saying something negative about myself, I consider whether or not I would say the same thing to a friend or my little sister. If I wouldn’t, I find a way to reframe it more positively 🙂

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    • Absolutely!!! That is a huge lesson that I wish all people would learn. I am somewhat sure I have blogged about it before but perhaps I should again? Thanks for the comment!

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  2. One of the best things I learned in therapy was that the human body has the same physiological reactions whether we call the emotion “Fear” or “Excitement.” For example, if two people go on a roller coaster, both of them will sweat, will breathe faster, will experience a faster heartbeat, may throw up. One of them says, “I was scared half to death!” The other says, “I was so excited!”

    Now when I feel scared and I really don’t want to feel scared, I will say (sometimes out loud) “I am so excited!” or “That was exciting!” It doesn’t mean I LIKED it, it just means that I felt like throwing up. But it puts a new frame on it, and life looks different as a result.

    Thank you for a great post.

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    • That is an excellent point to remember. I recall learning that too but it is easy to forget some lessons.
      I find I do the same fairly naturally now. LOVE that therapy. What a difference it makes right?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. thanks for this post. I found it really helpful. I am going to try the learned optimism for sure! XX

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