When your mind is plagued with pessimistic thoughts and limiting beliefs, achieving success and happiness becomes challenging. While you cannot completely get rid of negativity, you can optimise your mind to focus on the positive and effectively navigate through difficult waters.
Positive vs negative mindsets
Do you ever find yourself dwelling on an insult that someone said to you at work? Or perhaps you still cringe to this very day at something embarrassing you did several years ago? This is down to the negative bias. The negative bias is our tendency to pay closer attention to negative events and feelings compared to positive ones.
We’re more likely to notice something negative when it happens and then dwell on it. Imagine you’ve had a good day at work, but as you’re leaving, your boss calls you into their office. They pull you up on something you’ve done wrong and offer you constructive criticism for the future. In this situation, most of us would feel that we’d had a bad day, even though only one small negative thing happened.
Think of the negative bias as being super aware, and vigilant to any possible ‘threat’. In other words, negativity. This can and does impact us in our daily lives, from our relationships to the decisions we make, and even how we perceive others. If too intense, the negative bias can have a serious impact on mental health, leading to depression or anxiety. Likewise, the negative bias can lead to having an overall negative mindset.
Negative mindset: traits
Generally, those with a negative mindset focus on the bad in themselves, other people, situations, experience, and the world. Of course, there are plenty of difficult and unfortunate things happening all around us every single day. But there are also just as many good things happening. A person with a negative mindset, however, would fail to see any of the good and only focus on the bad. But even in a scenario where there is nothing wrong someone who has a negative mindset will find fault, even if they don’t mean to. Those who think negatively are often preoccupied with thoughts of doom, worry, anxiousness, and criticism. In general, people with a negative mindset are more likely to:
- dwell on past events, especially negative experiences such as rejection
- be highly critical of both themselves and others
- focus on the problem rather than the solution
- worry a lot about possible things that could go wrong
- worry about the future
- believe things are “too good to be true”
- automatically assume the worst in unknown situations
- and ignore the good in others and focus only on the bad
Negative mindset: Side-effects
Lack of self-motivation
Negative people are less likely to motivate themselves to reach their goals. Either they believe they will surely fail, so there’s no point trying, or have set unrealistic goals for themselves.
Being overly critical can be damaging to your self-esteem. Setting unrealistic standards for or comparing yourself to others can undermine your confidence and impact your self-image.
Reduced quality of life
Someone with a negative mindset finds it difficult to enjoy life. Because they are constantly focusing on the negative, they miss out on the positive. These can be big or small things that benefit and inspire a sense of happiness and satisfaction.
Having a negative mindset can impact the way you connect with others. As those with a negative mindset have a hard time seeing goodness in others, relationships can become unbalanced.
Negativity attracts negativity
Generally, positive people don’t want to be around negativity and will avoid negative people. People with a negative mindset are likely to be attracted to one another which can create toxic environments and make it even more difficult to see the positives in life.
Anxiety and depression
With time, too much negative thinking can lead to anxiety and depression. Failing to enjoy life and connect healthily with others can cause low mood, stress, and anxiety. These problems will then result in more negative thinking and a vicious cycle is born.
The positive side of negativity?
As you can see, having a negative mindset can be very damaging. But what if a tiny bit of negativity is actually a good thing? It’s all to do with balance. Seeing the positives and negatives in situations, people, and experiences will give you clearer perceptions and more sound judgments. For example, if you’re in a clearly dangerous situation, choosing to ignore your negative thoughts would be harmful.
Trying to only see the positives can, in some instances, be rather naive. Rather than completely rejecting all negative thoughts, it’s healthy to address them and accept that you’re feeling this way. Learning to understand all of your emotions, even the more uncomfortable ones, will help you grow. Likewise, life is full of ups and downs and it’s often our negative experiences that teach us valuable lessons that we can then use to have more positive experiences in the future.
We need both positivity and negativity to make informed, realistic, and overall beneficial decisions. But remember, too much negativity is still harmful. Ideally, you should be able to address both the negative and positive aspects of a situation.
Positive Mindset: Traits
People with a positive mindset generally:
- can see silver linings in a bad situation
- have an ‘I can’ attitude rather than “I can’t”
- can handle criticism and see it as constructive
- let go of things from the past easily
- make others feel good about themselves and spread positivity
- focus on solutions rather than overthinking the problem
- and are more resilient to external problem
The benefits of a positive mindset
Coping with stress
Positive people focus on solutions rather than problems. They also continue to enjoy life while going through difficult situations. Rather than allowing difficulties from work or everyday life to take over, positive thinkers will continue to see the good around them.
Positive thinkers adopt a “can-do attitude”. They aren’t afraid of failure and are more likely to push themselves forwards because of this. As a result, they develop and move forwards, both professionally and personally.
Those with a positive mindset are less critical of themselves. They’re more accepting and aware of their flaws and are less likely to compare themselves to others.
Can see the bigger picture
Positive thinkers can look past temporary stress or bad situations. They know this won’t be forever and can look forward to a brighter future.
Optimistic about the future
The unknown excites a person with a positive mindset. Rather than being fearful and anxious, they feel optimistic about all the possibilities that are to come.
High quality of life
When you reprogram your mind for positive thinking you’re able to enjoy life more as you focus on the good. Even in somewhat boring or difficult situations, a positive thinker will find something to be grateful for or happy about.
Positivity attracts positivity
People with a positive attitude are great to be around. They make others feel good about themselves and are perceived as non-judgemental, easy-going, and kind. In turn, this tends to attract more positive people.