But why are so many of our thoughts negative? (DW#484)

Hopefully you are beginning to notice that you are having thoughts that come and go, contradict each other and seem mostly negative. If you are, congratulations, you are well on your way to improved mental health and emotional intelligence.

Negative thoughts are perfectly normal and according to many psychologists, may be the default position of our mind.

This is because negative thoughts exist to keep us safe. Really.

Our ancestors survived by constantly being on the lookout for threats, fixing problems as they arose, and then learning from their mistakes. If they were optimists and stopped to admire the sunrise and smell the roses, they may not have survived to give birth to their children and we may not have been here.

They used their imagination to consider potential threats and problems, enabling them to solve the problems before they got into trouble and were attacked by predators.

So thankfully they were able to watch for and deal with trouble before it attacked them and that is how they survived long enough to give birth to our parents etc. (A bit oversimplified, but you get the picture, right?)

Now that we are no longer being attacked by predators, we don’t really need to engage this capacity for hypervigilance all the time. Our capability to imagine threats now works mostly against us by turning our mind into a "random negative thought generator." Our minds are full of ANTs.

Automatic negative thinking for us appears to have become a habit

This is evidenced by the fact that 90% of all our thoughts are repetitive — we have virtually the same thoughts today that we had yesterday – and the day before – and the day before that!

And we know now that if we do something often enough, practice something everyday, including thinking negative thoughts, we create a neural pathway which is like an electric circuit that then runs by itself.

The more we do it, the stronger the connections in our brain become.

But here is the good news about habits – they are learnt and can be unlearnt as well. We simply need to create new neural pathways in our brains by being intentional about our thinking.

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