“It’s called trash can and not trash can’t because you’re not hopeless!”, you said to cheer up a friend who told you they’re a piece of trash. While you feel sorry for your friend who’s down, you can’t push aside how this question keeps bugging you:
“What is the main cause of negative thinking?”
To give you an answer, let’s talk about that in this article. The objective is to help you understand the main causes of negative thinking.
The goal? Provide you with a better and unbiased perspective of why some people live with a negative thought.
What is the main cause of negative thinking? And can you stop it?
Negative thinking is a problem. And the main cause of it is subjective. It depends from person to person and differs based on each person’s situation.
Science says the steroid hormone, cortisol, is to blame.
These are the reasons:
- It links high cortisol levels to anxiety and ill moods.
- It also notes how high cortisol causes a discrepancy or flaw in how a person thinks.
- With too much of the steroid hormone, also known as the stress hormone, in your system, you over-analyze situations.
Signs of negative thinking
A common sign of negative thinking is the situation mentioned earlier — a person who feels as if they’re hopeless. They think they’re not good enough to do anything.
You try to cheer them up. But to no avail.
The way you see it? They’re not hopeless. They are, however, letting their thoughts dictate how they should act. They’re letting their thoughts tell them they’re hopeless — and they believe these thoughts.
Here are the other signs of a person who thinks negatively:
- They only have a single perspective (their own) – They don’t respect people enough to listen to their opinions.
- They habitually don’t follow through – You can’t depend on them. They may show enthusiasm at first, but when things get tough, they’ll leave you.
- They dwell too much on the past – Their basis for the events of their future is their past actions. Consequently, they refuse to adapt to changes, even if these changes may be of help to them.
- They belittle other people’s victories – They laugh at other people’s progress.
- They drain other people’s energy – They have no value — knowledge or skill — to provide.
Examples of people who didn’t let negative thinking get to them
People with negative thoughts aren’t hopeless per se. Whether they’re physically unable to do anything isn’t the problem.
Rather, it’s their negative attitude or predisposition to negativity. It causes them to hold no belief in themselves.
Not verbally excellent? Not physically finesse? Or handicapped in any way?
That’s unfortunate. But it doesn’t mean you’re hopeless.
Here are five successful people who with physical disabilities:
- Marlee Martin – She won an Academy award for a leading role and is one of the most successful actresses. She’s also deaf since she was less than a year old.
- Frank Delano Roosevelt – He’s a notable US president who was pivotal in World War 2. He’s also a wheelchair-user after he contracted polio and was rendered paralyzed at the start of his term in politics.
- Stevie Wonder – He was born blind. As a child prodigy, he got offered a record deal when he was 11 years old.
- Frida Kahlo – She’s a famous Mexican painter with a fierce spirit and expressed it artistically. She was also forced into bedrest and became a wheelchair-user since she was a teenager.
- John Hockenberry – He knew his spinal cord injuries and inability to move around freely held him back. But despite them, his career in American journalism prospered.
And there’s Stephen Hawking, Nick Vujicic, and many more inspiring people in earlier posts here in this blog. They had their share of down moments, too.
Overall, though, they’ve lived memorable lives, were unstoppable, and didn’t let negativity run them to the ground.
Can you or can you not stop negative thinking?
Yes — you can. As proven by the people above, you can stop negative thinking. The subject, however, doesn’t come with a cookie-cutter approach.
Many factors are part of the situation. And each factor affects the answer to this question.
Here are the arguments:
- No — you can’t stop negative thinking. If you simply sit there, your negative thoughts won’t go away. Your surroundings and the level of satisfaction you have with the quality of your life are two important factors you need to note.
If you live in a stressful environment and you’re unsatisfied with the quality of your life, you can’t avoid negativity from entering your mind.
- Yes — you can stop negative thinking. If you actively turn your negativity into positivity, your negativity will go away.
Let’s follow up on the example above: You live in a stressful environment and you’re unsatisfied with the quality of your life. And in that case, you can’t avoid negativity.
But if you use a proactive approach, you can. For example, if you determine ways on how to:
- Eliminate the source of stress from your living environment and
- Improve the quality of your life
Yes — you can!
What is the main cause of negative thinking? 13 main causes
In addition to the two factors mentioned above are these causes that contribute to negative thinking. Be aware of them because you need to get rid of negative thinking. If you want to have a better way of seeing life, they need to go.
Here they are:
1. Society’s depreciative labels
You can also call this global labelling. It’s when most people label someone or give names to them because of their reactions.
This is a cause of negative thinking because those who are doing it have a distorted view of other people’s reactions. They’re doing this to feel like a sense of belonging. Everyone else is doing it. So why shouldn’t they join the bandwagon?
It’s a negative approach to thinking because they’re doing it by default. They’re doing it without analyzing the facts of the situation.
For example, a person gets annoyed over a maddening issue. Even if they have the right to feel that way, society can put labels on them.
They may immediately label the person who reacted “a typical Karen”, “neurotic and entitled brat”, and “someone who needs anger management courses.”
2. Self-depreciative humor
Question: What nation do you live in where you have all the things you want?
That’s an example of self-depreciative humor or humor that allows a person to laugh at their expense.
Many people like it because it’s hilarious. And it’s a way of not taking themselves too seriously.
The problem? It causes — and even encourages — their subconscious mind to think so little of themselves.
Having a lapse in judgment is sometimes understandable. If a person always has things to do, their full schedule can cause confusion. And as a result, they make poor decisions.
But if a person always acts or reacts in a way that doesn’t favor them, they have a problem with their reasoning. And they could be in big trouble.
Chances are, they’re unaware they have a problem. Or they’re 100% oblivious that a problem exists.
4. Lack of emotional intelligence
How a person responds to other people’s emotions is vital to almost every aspect of life. It’s a reflection of who they are as a person. And it’s one of the keys to developing great professional and personal relationships.
For example, other people feel comfortable around them. Because they can sense the positive emotions and vibe others give off, they can easily approach these people.
Meanwhile, it’s a different story if they can sense other people find them annoying. If others don’t find them the least bit likable, it’s best to keep themselves distant.
5. Control issues
The need to control everything means a person wants things to go smoothly. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The problem is, it causes them to think negatively of other people. Notably, it reflects a person’s lack of trust in others and in their ability to want control of things, too.
6. Too much talking
Talking too much — loudly and out of turn — causes a person to think so little of other people’s opinion and personal resources such as time and energy.
It’s as if they’re indirectly talking to them and telling them what they have to say is unimportant.
And did you know that talking too much is also a deception strategy? It causes an unhealthy and negative way of thinking. It’s meant to distract others from the fact that the person who talks too much has no value to offer.
7. Thinking mistakes are permanent
Did a person make a typographical error when writing web content? Or have they made a huge mistake of buying an expensive car they eventually had to sell?
If so, don’t laugh at them. Don’t judge them for being imperfect or for making mistakes.
Otherwise, it’ll cause you to think negatively of your own mistakes, too.
So they screwed up. And sure, it sucks for them to be in that situation.
But they can always “walk it off”, learn from the event, and do better next time. If you find yourself in a similar situation, this is what you should tell yourself, too.
8. Insistence to be right all the time
A person who acts like they’re the smartest person in the room is irritating. And it’s more irritating to watch them go around and act like it if they’re obviously not the least bit smart.
The insistence to be right all the time is one of the reasons a person has negative thoughts.
It causes them to feel a sense of dominion over others. And they think other people can’t and will never be right.
The sad fact: It makes them unteachable.
9. The blame game
Blaming other people for their own failure causes negative thoughts because it diminishes the importance of accountability. It also disregards the value of humility.
Saying statements such as “That’s their fault!” “I’m not the problem. They are”, and “That’s because they work so slowly!” is a telltale sign of someone who’s playing the blame.
Remember, they were part of a mission that went wrong. So even if there’s someone to blame, a person needs to be mature and responsible enough to fault themselves, too.
10. “Heaven’s Reward”
This is highly similar to the concept of karma. The difference? A person who clings on to a “Heaven’s Reward” is taking it to the next level.
Karma goes: If you put good out there, good is likely to come back to you.
The “Heaven’s Reward” fallacy, meanwhile, goes: If you put good out there, good is supposed to come back to you.
Sure, wanting good to come back to you isn’t a wrong thing to want. But a person who thinks this way is showing a sign of negativity.
It causes them to believe they’re entitled to good. They have the skewed notion good things will fall on their lap because that’s how it’s supposed to be.
11. Hoping for fairness
“Life’s not fair,” says a classic saying.
The reason it’s a classic? It’s true.
Some people are born lucky. Others, meanwhile, aren’t.
Person 1 can be born with many talents, live comfortably, and choose to pursue life goals they want. Meanwhile, person 2 is untalented, works all day to make ends meet, and doesn’t have the opportunity to pursue life goals.
For person 2, it’s understandable to feel negatively about their situation. But they need to accept that yes, “Life is not fair.”
If they insist otherwise, they’ll only deal with unnecessary and negativity. They’ll also be envious of people who appear to have better life situations.
Making assumptions is assuming something is true. Despite not having proof something is true, a person who assumes believes what for them is a universal truth — a truth that may be false.
For many people, there’s nothing more irritating than dealing with a person who assumes. This person may not know what they’re talking about. Yet they’re out there spreading misinformation.
They’re in luck if their assumption is near the real truth. But if it’s not, it can negatively affect their own situation. It can also affect their professional and personal relationships.
13. Imagining worst-case scenarios
Catastrophizing is also a term for this. It causes a person to think negatively of every moment. It results in an untimely (and most often unnecessary) panic and fear. Even if something is going right, they think of the worst cases — possible and impossible situations.
To be fair, a person who imagines the terrible things that could happen means they want to stay safe. But they’re also sucking the joy out of any good in a situation.
Terrible things can and may happen. And they need to make peace with this fact.
Correcting negative thinking
Encountering a person with loads of negative thoughts can be challenging.
But do your best not to easily get mad or frustrated over them. Usually, they can’t help it. And sometimes, they don’t know they have a problem.
Fortunately, you do. Why not show compassion and be helpful to them?
Here are corrective measures:
- Help them practice mindfulness – Invite them for a quick meditation session, for example. The more aware they are of their situation, the better.
- Show kindness – Make them feel valued and respected. Sometimes, knowing someone appreciates them is enough to help them resolve a mind filled with negativity.
- Be understanding – Stretch your patience with them. And don’t take anything personally.
- Keep them busy – Occupy them with an activity to prevent them from thinking. The busier they are, the less time they have to entertain negative thoughts.
- Be a role model – If other people are mistreating them, be different. Lead the way and encourage others to see them in a better light.
So that’s our discussion on “What is the main cause of negative thinking?” Hopefully, you now understand the main causes of negative thinking. And you should understand they need to go.
In most situations, the first step to eliminating any problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem — that you’re dealing with a problem.
That’s how it is in this situation, too.
Like most problems, self-awareness is important in eliminating negative thoughts.
Are you dealing with negative thoughts? Or is someone you know dealing with them?
Either way, be aware of the problem. And figure out how to get rid of it for good.