Negativity can always find its way into our lives. An article by Kristen Lee Ed. D., LICSW in Psychology Today discuss 8 ways of thinking that can put us on a path to negativity. They are called “downward spiral thinking types.” It is important that we find ways to avoid these type of thought processes, so negative thoughts don’t control our lives and happiness. I will list the 8 types below.
- The Preemptive 911 caller- “Something happens, and you see it as a total emergency. When your amygdala is in full force, it’s likely you are only able to see red and hear alarm bells going off. You spin into a place where you see reality as being nothing but a full-on crisis. Panic sets in, and everything gets blown way out of proportion(Lee, Ed.D., 2018).” Over-blowing the severity of the situation tends to happen. We see things much worse than it really is. It is important to step back, and see the reality of the situation.
- The saboteur- “Difficulty strikes, and you automatically engage in self-sabotage, taking everything personally and blaming yourself for the occurrence of events, even those over which you have no control. Your thoughts interfere with reasoning, and instead you beat yourself up incessantly, diminishing your sense of value and worth(Lee, 2018).” We are our worse enemy. Try not to put too much blame on your shoulders. Blaming-yourself, or anyone- doesn’t solve anything. This will just spiral you into a state of depression, and you don’t want that! You should lift yourself up, so it can be easier to solve the problem in your life.
- The zero-shades-of-gray thinker- “When looking at a situation, you only see extremes or absolutes. You define things in black-and-white, all-or-nothing terms. Your view is that something is either this way or that, and it’s hard to see the possibility that it could also be a both/and situation(Lee,2018).” Life isn’t black and white. It is a world of grey. Always look at all point of views, and perspectives.
- The labeler- “You look at behavior and label it in negative terms. Even though it’s hard to deal with, you believe it is a universal defining trait versus a behavior or situation that needs modification. This trap can lead to self-labeling, as well as judging other people(Lee, 2018).” There are many layers to humans. We shouldn’t judge someone based on one situation. There are many reasons why a person does what they do, but it is easier for us to make snap judgments, which can lead to negative thoughts.
- The tunnel visioner- “When evaluating what’s at hand, you only zoom in on the negative details, ignoring anything that is positive and worth appreciating. When something goes wrong, you have trouble identifying the things that have also gone right. Downward-spiraling tunnel vision focuses on deficits and injuries rather than lessons and strengths(Lee, 2018).” It is much easier to focus on the negative, than the positive. I struggle with that myself. It is hard, but we need to find ways to see the positive for our own well-being and happiness.
- The broad brusher- “You paint a very broad picture, make loose connections between past or present instances, and create sweeping over-generalizations to describe what’s at hand. You use phrases like “I never,” “This always,” and “Everyone” to make big assertions of what you see happening(Lee, 2018).” Generalizing is never a good idea. When you say things like ‘I never,’ or ‘ This always.’ I am pretty sure that isn’t accurate. I am sure it never, or always happens. We just overlook the times it worked.
- The superhero- “Your cape is always on, working hard to never let anyone down. You pride yourself on doing all and being all, at all costs. You “should” and “must” yourself to the nth degree, but when something goes wrong, you come crashing down, and your self-esteem goes plummeting. When you can’t save the world, you experience extreme disappointment(Lee, 2018).” Perfection is the goal, but an inaccurate way of thinking of oneself. You are not perfect. No one is perfect. Accept your flaws and weaknesses. Accepting you’re not perfect will improve your self-esteem, self-worth, and happiness.
- The imposter- “Because you constantly engage in social comparison, you magnify the positives you see in everyone else, but downplay your own strengths and talents. You think you’re going to be found out, and that you really don’t belong at the level where you find yourself. You worry that people will soon see through your façade and come to their senses on the trust they’ve placed in you(Lee, 2018).” We all compare ourselves to others, but doing this leads to negative thoughts about ourselves. We forget to realize that the people we compare ourselves to also have their own struggles and problems. No one has the perfect life. It may seem that way, but it is a facade. The important thing is to focus on the positive things in your life, not in others. We all have positive things in our lives. You just have to try not to overlook them.
We all have done things on the list. It is hard to escape these thoughts. There are many ways to spiral into negativity. It is important that we find ways to avoid these downward spiral thinking types, so that we can live a happy and fulfilling life. Positive thinking is key.
Lee Ed, D., K. (2018, Mar 10). The Amazing Power of The Upward Spiral. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rethink-your-way-the-good-life/201803/the-amazing-power-the-upward-spiral