The Power of Negative Thinking

The Power of Negative Thinking
by fin2000

Before you attempt to banish a bad thought, consider what it could teach you. Negative emotions can help you pinpoint problems you need to address. What follows are three major types of negative thinking - and how you can use them for good.

Feelings of Inadequacy

Recognize it: I suck at my job. I don't have any good ideas. It's just a matter of time before I'm fired.

Overcome it: Maybe you do suck - at certain tasks. Sometimes our negative thoughts are true, but don't accept that until you look critically at the evidence. Some people excel in group meetings, while others shine when they work alone. Figure out which environment suits you better. Still struggling? Maybe you and your job are simply a poor match. Find another job - quickly. Researchers at the University of Texas found that negative employees stick around in dead-end jobs longer than their confident colleagues do.

General Pessimism

Recognize it: I'm going to be late for my flight and miss the meeting. There goes the account. There goes my year-end bonus. My wife is probably going to leave me.

Overcome it: Don't deny your worst-case-scenario thoughts, but focus on specific things you do have control over. This will help keep your anxiety from spiraling out of control. It might also extend your life: research in the journal Psychological Medicine linked high levels of anxiety in your twenties to higher rates of death from illness later in life.

Self-Esteem Issues

Recognize it: The brunette at the bar didn't return my smile. She's ignoring me like every other girl. Oh, God, I must be hideous.

Overcome it: Once you start generalizing your problems, it's hard to stop. When you feel a sense of heaviness in your body, focus on what just went through your mind. Then stop the cycle by breaking the problem into manageable pieces: did she even see me? Is that a ring on her finger? Do I have snot hanging from my nose? If you look at the situation in this way, you won't become overwhelmed so easily.

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