Do you have a negative thinking addiction?
I never realized that my mind was so stuck in negative thinking until I started a meditation practice. Not until I started paying attention to my thoughts did I noticed this constant negative tendency of my thoughts. This big Aha moment got me curious about exploring how my brain works.
Is my brain creating these patterns of negativity? Am I responsible?
In my quest to answer these questions, I have read many books that gave me an optimistic solution to my negativity. The first I learned is that the answer to both questions is yes. In other words, my brain and I are responsible.
The negative nature of the human brain
The way our brain works creates more attention to things of a negative nature that are positive or neutral. Our brains have a natural tendency to be stuck in negativity because that is how it has evolved to protect us from external dangers.
Another big Aha moment was when I found out that the human brain promotes addictive behaviors. My negative thinking has to do some part in how my brain works to protect me and also how I reinforce negative thinking with my actions.
Every decision I make every day can lean towards negativity, positivity, or neutrality. The more I chose to pay attention to pessimism or stressful thinking, the more it gets wired in my brain.
Whether we like it or not, we are all conditioned to follow our thunking addictions. Most of the time, we are not aware of these addictions’ essential role in our happiness and well-being.
We are always looking for what feels right, predictable, and safe. We avoid things that feel scary, unpredictable, dangerous, and too challenging. We even create stories in our minds to sustain these emotions as valid.
These feelings and emotions are all determined by how your brain processes information and the stories’ interpretation.
Identifying your thinking addictions can give you a new light into your thinking world. It can be so freeing and self-empowering when you catch yourself in them. For me, the most important realization of my thinking addictions is that once I have been able to identify them, they have lost their mental grip.
I know now that my thinking patterns are not who I am. They are just a result of how my brain and how it has been following negativity that I learned in my life. Some patterns I created and others I was not aware that I was making them.
Most importantly, my thinking addictions don’t have to determine my life. I have the power to reinforce other thoughts that work better for my well being. You also can become aware of your thinking addictions and experience this freedom.
Some thinking addictions that I have seen in myself and the people I work with follow the same patterns. Our family, culture profoundly influences them, and society tells us about what is right and wrong.
Common thinking addictions
Today I will share three thinking addictions that I have seen the most in myself and others.
- What is wrong? This addiction is about being obsessed with what is not working well in your life. This one is all about focusing on what is missing from the picture. It gets obsessed with what needs to change and finding problems all the time.
- What is the answer or solution? This addiction is about focusing on the things that you need to know. We are more addicted than ever in gathering and collecting information to get an outcome. Our emphasis is on finding a quick solution so we can feel in control.
- Why is it not perfect? This thinking addiction is the need for perfection and the need to stand out from others. A mistake is a failure. We live such narrow-minded lives that we only see what is in front of us, and if it is not how we want it, we label it as wrong. Who made the mistake that is disrupting my order? We are focusing more on our gain and reinforcing blame and shame on others.
Write it down to free yourself
Write down these thinking addictions and pay attention during this week on your thoughts. Whenever you feel stressed or a sign of resistance to a situation you are dealing with, see if it is related to these thinking addictions.
Maybe you will also find other ones that I didn’t mention. If you do, also write them down. Becoming aware of your thoughts is the first step that you take to reduce your negative thinking and bring more positivity or neutrality in your life.
“It’s difficult to see your thoughts when you are in your thoughts.”
― Yong Kang Chan
Which one of these thinking addictions can you relate to the most?