Preparing for the worst is a form of evolutionary adaptation that has allowed us to avoid dangers and react quickly in the event of a crisis. But at this point we can say: stop negative thinking. Five tips to defuse it
If you always think of the worst, it’s not just about character. There is a genetic root in our negative thoughts. In fact, preparing for the worst is a form of evolutionary adaptation that has allowed us to avoid dangers and react quickly in the event of a crisis. “We are built to learn more from negative experiences than from positive experiences,” wrote Rick Hanson, psychologist, author of “Hardwiring Happiness: the new brain science of contentment, calm and confidence”. contentment, calm and trust, ed) and Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center, a research center on compassion, happiness and altruism at the University of California, Berkeley.
Our mind, therefore, is naturally brought in the direction of negative thoughts, but that’s not all. This propensity – according to research from the University of Colorado – manifests itself more in women. In some cases, the loop of negative thoughts seems unstoppable: the more you try to stem them, the more arrogant they present themselves. “Just as we are built, trying to stop counterproductive thoughts feeds them,” says Hanson. Better, however, to deliberately become aware of it and transform your own internal discourse. Hence the invitation to switch from modality like: “I have to stop thinking about that promotion” to formulas like: “I’m thinking too much about that promotion”. A principle analogous to mindfulness, in which the onset of thought is observed, without feeding it. There is another, however different the situations in which we find ourselves, negative thoughts fall into a series of defined ways. Here are what they are and how they defuse:
1) Consider different outcomes of the same situation
When we imagine a future situation, we tend to fill in the blanks. Precisely because the future has not yet manifested, we have the opportunity to develop negative or positive considerations in this regard. Usually, we use previous experiences as a sort of “canvas” to hypothesize what will happen and, therefore, it happens that we choose to elaborate negative considerations and to worry in advance without a real reason.
The solution. “To develop the habit of a more balanced way of thinking, we can write the thought that arises spontaneously and then the diametrically opposite one”, suggests Indu Khurana, British psychotherapist and life coach. “In this way we give our brain the opportunity to contemplate both perspectives, to dwell on both.” To vary the exercise, thoughts can be verbalized: “In this case, we need two chairs, to physically change position. We sit on the first one expressing the thought we have in mind and then we move on to the second to verbalize a more balanced point of view, just like a friend would do with us “.
2) Stop thinking in terms of “duties”
We are used to a “step by step” scan of existence and this, at times, makes us feel inadequate. For example: all our friends have found a job and we have not. Most of the people we know have children and we don’t. Our knowledge seems satisfied with their careers and we are not. This automatically leads to seeing black.
The solution. Instead of blindly embracing the expectations of the culture of belonging, or those around us (like family members) we should take time to reflect. “Let’s ask ourselves what we want in life and draw up our personal list of values. Precisely because situations change, and so do we, we must periodically ask ourselves these questions, “notes the psychotherapist. Focusing on our priorities when we feel the need is also a way of setting our goals in the short and long term.
3) Just deal with external parameters
We don’t just measure ourselves on what society prescribes, but we often get trapped in relation to other people we know or even don’t know and read about in the media. A decidedly wrong exercise.
The solution. One way out is to find your own “mantra”. “We choose a phrase that reminds us of the uniqueness of our history. Everyone can find their own affirmation to be used when needed, even the simple one is fine: All that glitters is not gold ”. Alternatively, we can recall the times when we were wrong to compare different situations regardless. “If we want to see different results, compared to thinking negatively, we have to start doing things different from what we are used to. We start to stop confronting each other, “suggests the psychotherapist.
4) Let’s set close targets
It happens that we alternate positions between everything and nothing. We are convinced that if we don’t get the promotion we aspire to, if we don’t have the family we have imagined, if we don’t have the holiday we want, we are worth nothing. In short, we forget all the gradations found in the middle and that often the path to conquering the goal is full of satisfactions and experiences that enrich even more than reaching the top.
The solution. We try to focus on appreciating the way we work to achieve our goals, even if we haven’t achieved them. This attitude not only protects us from judgmental considerations, but gives us the opportunity to discover aspects of ourselves that we did not imagine, such as resilience, compassion, trust. “We always have the opportunity to choose to consciously embrace our path,” suggests the psychologist. Doing so, gives immediate relief and well-being.
5) Distinguish feelings from facts
Sometimes, finally, we think negatively because we don’t feel 100% well. “Let’s make sure that the basic elements of good health are present in our life: a balanced diet, exercise, the right amount of sleep and hydration, interpersonal relationships.” Once we have “checked” these elements, we stimulate positive thoughts.
Such as? “Keep a gratitude journal. Write five things every day, starting from simple elements like the air you breathe. By doing this exercise every day, gradually your way of thinking will evolve in a more positive direction “, concludes the expert.