Negative thinking: is it just a bad habit?

When you face a life struggle such as a divorce or a job loss, how do you interpret it? Do you see it as just another kick in the face, typical bad luck; a “what’s meant to be will be” situation; or do seek the “opportunity” in everything?

Are you a naturally positive or negative person? Do you think this is something you can control, or is it something that happens to you by chance? Do you think it affects your overall happiness level?

Recently, I read in a magazine that experts say that being an overall negative or positive person is a habit and the more you practice one or the other, the more it perpetuates. Bad things happen; we all experience tough times and how we choose to view a situation can play a key role in our overall level of happiness in our life.

My experience

For about 10 years, the traumatizing effects of the accidental death of my father at 16 years old played a detrimental role in how I viewed life and impacted my overall happiness factor. For years, I had no faith or trust in life and I was convinced everyone I loved was going to die. I was emotionally crippled by a fear of abandonment. I lived life waiting for the other shoe to drop; waiting for the next loved one to be ripped away from me. These deep seeded negative beliefs drove me to angry, destructive behaviors and choices and framed my overall view of life. It wasn’t surprising that I was immensely unhappy and unfulfilled.

As I moved into my 30s, I started evaluating my life choices as a whole and saw the patterns of how some of my core beliefs were driving me to behaviors that made me unhappy. But could a person radically alter an ingrained belief system? Was that within my control?

I started by evaluating my beliefs, breaking each one down, replacing negative and unhealthy beliefs with new, healthy, realistic beliefs. This restructuring was all about habit. I used positive affirmations to build anew. For months, I reminded myself over and over again that I was strong and able to deal with anything life brought my way, that I had gotten through losing my father, and that I could restore my trust in life.

Slowly but surely, my faith in life returned, my capacity to love opened up, and my life changed and happiness started to fill my spirit. As I consciously altered my inner world, my outer world began to change; quite dramatically.

How has positive or negative thinking affected your life? Do you think being a primarily positive or negative person is something within your control?

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Comments

  1. Natalie, this is a great subject to discuss. I consider myself a very optimistic person and even though from time to time I struggle with some serious hardships in my life, I always look for something positive, something beautiful and worth fighting for to embrace and to help me see things in perspective. But such approach comes with years of experience. I’ve used to be more negative and sometimes even narrow-minded but, as the years kept passing, I’ve grown and finally understood what’s really important in life: true happiness. Can someone be happy if he or she feels negative all the time? In my opinion, definitely not.

    • Thank you for the comment Angela! I couldn’t agree with you more. Like you, I struggled with negativity and feeling like the world was out to get me. Optimism and looking for the bright side of things has come easier with hard work but also with age, maturity and growth. And without it, I could not have found the happiness I’ve created for myself. Definitely key!

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