4 Ways to Interrupt Negative Thinking
Seeking happiness, joy, and fulfillment is a natural and evolutionary byproduct of your spirit progressing toward ever-increasing levels of expansion and awareness. Life, however, inevitably contains pain. When you become triggered by painful events, you experience mental and emotional turmoil. Negative thoughts and emotions feel heavy, dark, and burdensome. This collapses your awareness into defensiveness, anger, gloom, and worst-case scenario thinking.
For most people, negativity is something that passes with time, like a ship sailing through fog. But negativity can be much more problematic and insidious. Chronic or compulsive negativity of this kind can trap you in a kind of thought and emotion “prison,” tainting every aspect of your life experiences. Instead of allowing the negativity to flow through you and pass away, you get caught up in an emotional rip current.
This chronic negativity can take a huge toll on your life, relationships, happiness, and health. Escaping the prison of negativity should be considered a high priority for your long-term well-being.
When you are confronted with physical threats or threats to your ego and self-image, your body reacts defensively and you get scared. That fear is interpreted as a negative feeling, sensation, or thought.
Where Does Negativity Bias Come From?
The regular activation of these defensive responses has led to what neurologists refer to as the negativity bias. This means that, in essence, our brains are evolutionarily predisposed to look for, and focus on, negative experiences. As psychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D. explains in his book, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom, the brain is sticky for negative experiences but nonstick for positive experiences. This is because your ancient ancestors always had to be on the lookout for danger or threats to their survival. In prehistoric times, if you were always on guard for what might go wrong, you had a much better chance of surviving to pass your genes on to your offspring.
Even though modern life doesn’t regularly throw the average person into life-threatening situations, the negativity bias still colors your interpretation of the world. Rather than seeing what’s going well in your life, you fixate on what isn’t going well and anticipate more bad things happening in the future. To make matters worse, you may even seek out things that are going wrong as a form of confirmation bias, or looking for evidence of your negative personal narrative. You can begin to seek out the negative, find it, and use it to fortify a negative worldview filled with resentment, cynicism, and a loss of faith in humanity.
How can you escape the tricky, evolutionarily built-in tendency to be negative? Here are a few suggestions that can help you break out of the prison of negative thinking.
Meditation affects your perceptions and reaction to negativity in several key ways.