Negative thinking will ruin your life. It will take the good out of everything and have you viewing the world in a darker light. Constant negative thinking leads to depression, anxiety and makes you resent people. It was the biggest roadblock I had when learning to control and conquer bipolar disorder. It can be hard to recognize negative thinking especially when you’ve been caught in a pattern for too long. This is when your negative thought pattern becomes automated and really takes over your life. However, there’s always hope but you first need to recognize that your caught in a negative cycle. Then, you can identify the type of negative thinking you are doing. For example, many psychologists have identified four types of negative thought patterns. They have also stated how many of them do overlap each other.
By knowing the different types, you can start to come up with heathier alternative patterns to overcome those negative ones.
Four Types of Negative Thinking
1) Focusing on the Negative
This is when you focus on the negatives instead of the positives. For example, you’ll have so many positive things going on in your life, but your negativity forces you to not recognize them at all. You’ll focus on why you can’t have more when you already have a lot. Here are some examples –
- “Why can’t I get paid more at work” (failing to see the positive of having a job when many others don’t)
- “I have bipolar disorder” (failing to appreciate having life)
- “I don’t have anyone to talk to” (failing to see the awesome family support circle in your life)
- “Nothing good is going on in my life” (failing to pay attention to having a home, friends, food, etc.)
2) All-or-Nothing Negative Thinking
Forcing yourself to think everything must always be perfect or it’s a disappointment (failure). For example, you’ll start a job and must have it done the same day or you’ll feel like you’ve failed. This means you put a lot of pressure on yourself to get things done right without understanding that sometimes you might need more time or will have to adjust things along the way. Here’s a few examples –
- “I’ve failed because I got 95% instead of 100%”
- “I have to do things perfectly, and anything less is a failure.”
3) Negative Self-Labelling
Negative self-labeling is focusing on how you view yourself compared to others. You are constantly afraid people will not like the real you. Or, will not accept you when they find out who you are. You need to lie to be happy and if you don’t, you’ve opened yourself up for negativity. You feel you’re not good enough or a failure in life.
4) Catastrophizing Thinking
This is interesting because I never knew about it until now –
With this type of negative thinking, you always expect the worse-case scenario. For example, if I get in an accident then I’ll die without any chance of survival. Or, if my friends find out about my bipolar disorder, I’ll never see them again.
Above I’ve given you an overview of the four most common types of negative thinking which have been linked to depression, anxiety, and addiction. However, there are other less common types which I’ll now discuss.
Less Common Negative Thinking Types
1) The Excessive Need for Approval
Your mind is wired to think that you can only be happy if people like you. Without their approval, you have failed and are not going to mount to anything. With this type of negative thinking, you feel everything is your fault even if someone is NOT happy around you. If your unable to make someone feel better, you cast blame on yourself.
2) Negative Mind Reading
You constantly think that people don’t like you and you’re the one to blame. With this type of negative thinking you are reading someone else’s mind coming up with these conclusions on your own. You automatically think that people don’t like you without them saying anything negative to you.
3) Negative Should Statements
You believe a situation or event should go a certain way and when it doesn’t you blame others. Out of negativity, you think the person directly involved should be punished because of the negative outcome. For example, if certain people don’t behave a certain way (fair) they should be punished.
4) Negative Pessimism
A common thing we’ve heard while growing up with others asking if we’re either – optimistic or pessimistic.
People with pessimistic views will always look for the negative in everything. They’ll say things like “life is a struggle”, “I don’t trust people”, “we will have a boring night out”, and “this job is going to suck”.
5) Negative Dwelling
You keep thinking about the mistakes you’ve made in the past and can’t let go of them. You think you can correct past mistakes by dwelling on them and this consumes your mind with negativity.
When you dwell on the past, you can’t live in the present and be optimistic about the future.
Which Negative Thinking Type Am I?
Over the years, I’ve seen how two negative thinking patterns have consumed my mind and how they’ve effected my life. The Self-Labeling and Negative Mind Reading.
First, since I’ve had a long battle with bipolar disorder I feel I’m behind in my accomplishments. This makes me feel like I’m not good enough compared to others around me like friends and family. However, I’m beginning to realize that everyone has their insecurities and they feel the same way. This wasn’t more evident than when I told my friend I was bipolar. For the longest time, I had kept it a secret not knowing what his reaction would be. But, when he found out, he said sometimes he’s depressed and battles with his own thoughts too. This was the first time I knew 100% that everyone suffers one way or another quietly. Being vocal about it made us closer because we could be genuine with each other about our insecurities.
I guess my self-labeling led to my negative mind reading causing an overlapping effect. The fact I thought I wasn’t good enough made me automatically think that the other person didn’t like me. For example, when I would be talking to someone I would always be thinking what the other person thinks about me. If I didn’t get positive vibes during the conversation, I would mind read thinking the other person didn’t like me. It was hard to get through this roadblock but I did after I started to gain confidence. Once I progressed in life, I felt like I was going places and would add value everywhere I go. Since both self-labeling and mind reading overlapped each other, conquering one helped conquer the other 🙂