Why We Should Challenge our Negative Beliefs
I used to be really depressed in high-school. I had a really a negative outlook on life. I would get into these negative spells of thinking where I could only see the bad in the past, only feel the pain of the present, and only see the turmoil that was to come in the future. It wasn’t a healthy state of thinking and it took me years to recognize that I was stuck in this negative feedback loop and that my own negative thinking was the source of all my anguish (or at least contributing to it).
I think we all fall into these negative feedback loops from time to time. We all get stuck into these negative ways of thinking and find ourselves in a sea of negative emotions. For some of us this thought process is small, like, jzz just my luck, it’s freaking rainy outside and I get to walk to work; or wow, it’s my lucky day, I’m stuck behind this asshole going 50 in a 65 zone.
These are just minor inconveniences and as far as I’m concerned, go ahead and be momentarily pissed, but don’t make being being pissed the only reaction you have. Because at a certain point, these thoughts stop being clouds in a world full of sunshine and become a thunderstorms in a dark night.
A perfect example of this is one of my friend J. J was this amazing person whom was trapped in this thunderstorm. She thought the world was out to get her. She mistrusted her friends because she was convinced that they hated her; when she met new people, her initial thought was wow this person probably thinks I’m weird and she would go home and cry to her boyfriend. I even remember J and her boyfriend getting in a fight every few weeks because she was fully convinced that he was cheating on her when really he was in love with her and just wasn’t the best at communicating. In J’s mind, the world was against her, everything in life was destined to cause her pain and she never knew joy in the world. She never knew happiness. For her. It was pain and misery. For her, the thunderstorm never stopped.
Now can you imagine living a life this way? Can you imagine waking up and only experiencing pain, seeing a ray of sunshine out your window and thinking, fuck me, it’s going to be a horrible day. I don’t think this reality is too far off for a lot of people. I think it’s a reality we all suffer with in our own individual ways. I also think that it’s important to challenge these beliefs. I think if we don’t challenge these beliefs then we are literally making problems for ourselves that just don’t exist.
Here’s a good story to illustrate the point. A few weeks ago, I almost broke up with my girlfriend because I was trapped in one of these feedback loops. It’s pretty embarrassing in hindsight, but I was convinced that she wanted out of the relationship and I wasn’t about to wait for this whole thing drag on like a poison that slowly kills you. I soon began imaging how it would all go down, I began feeling the pain of the breakup, I began internalizing how our lives would be changed and I began to feel sorrow for losing the one who got away. I did this all in my mind, I created this fictitious reality in my head because I was ruminating on these negative thoughts. The worst thing is, I almost acted on these negative thoughts. I almost let myself ruin this relationship off of some misguided negative gut feeling spurned by some emotional baggage that had nothing to-do with my girlfriend. It was all fictitious too. Thankfully my roommate stopped me and told me “Chris, you’re a fool. Nothing you just told me makes sense. You’re creating problems in situations where they are no problems. Don’t make a mistake that you’re going to regret”.
I realized that day more then ever that we need to challenge our negative beliefs. We need to start consciously seeing the good in the world. If we are not careful, then we may project our negative thoughts into the world around us and burn bridges that were never meant to catch on fire. I think a lot of this has to-do with the expression of “you reap what you sow”. If you sow negativity into your life, then you’re going to reap a life full of pain and disappointments. But if you sow positivity into your world, then you might just get a life full of joy and fun.
For the next 30-days I want to challenge you to start seeing the world in a more positive manner (which as a pessimist myself, is a lot harder then the silly optimist realize). I want to challenge you to start writing down the little joys of life in a gratitude journal or start taking 30-seconds of your busy day to fully enjoy the present moment. I want to encourage you to-do something this week that is just for your own benefit, something that you enjoy as part of your self care. Lastly, I want to you to try to be present with your friends, spend 1 day or night this week just being around the people you love and giving them your complete and undivided attention without the distractions of a phone/laptop/work.
Who knows. As I find myself starting this challenge, it’s crazy to think about how much a few simple changes could improve our lives. Maybe we’ll all look back on this day and think, wow, it’s crazy think how negative my world view was. I’m glad I started to see the world as a positive place and got to truly enjoy life.
If any of ya’ll decide to take up the 30-day challenge, leave a comment below. It would be cool if we could hear about each others small successes as transitioning from die hard pessimists to uncomfortable optimists :).