The Positive Power of Negative Thinking

  • June 1, 2023
  • June 1, 2023
  • Shaz Nawaz
  • 7 min read

We all know a negative person in our lives. Perhaps a colleague, neighbour, or maybe even a friend. Maybe you are the negative person in your own life. Is that necessarily a terrible thing?

Depends on how you look at it. You can harness your negative thinking to help you prepare for whatever task lies ahead or you can let it demotivate you into thinking it’s not worth the effort.

The former sounds better, doesn’t it?

Well, there are ways that negative thinking can have a positive outcome. In fact, you can be ready to face problems in your life head on.

You can use your negative thoughts in a positive manner, thereby helping you navigate through this rollercoaster called life.

Following are the benefits of negative thinking:

1. Prepare Yourself for Difficult Times

You cannot eliminate problems from your life just by positive thinking. It does not magically solve all your problems. You must solve them. Hard times are inevitable, and everyone must face them sooner or later.

Is it not better to prepare for them?

Where can preparation get you? Well, to the moon!

Psychologist Richard Wiseman wrote a book titled ‘Shoot for the Moon.’ In it, he discusses how preparedness played a part in the success of the 1960’s U.S. space program. The rocket scientists used their negative thinking to envision the possible disasters. From there, they were able to make corrections to their designs to ensure those issued would never occur.

Do you prepare for the future?

In every important phase of your life, such as switching jobs, you should prepare yourself. Always do your due diligence. Think of the possible negative outcomes and be ready to face them or solve them. This saves you from a lot of unexpected pain of loss.

2. Utilise Negative Thinking to Make Better Decisions

The word ‘sceptic’ has a negative connotation. Yet there is such a thing as healthy scepticism. Which, according to studies, can lead to you making better decisions. How? Well, it slows you down and makes you ponder.

A natural mechanism exists within us called ‘doubt’. It confronts our presumptions and advances our analytical mindset to make a decision that is both evidence-based and well-informed.

Healthy scepticism and doubt both fall under the category of negative thinking.

Now, look at an over-optimistic approach and compare the two. Over-optimistic approach leads to confirmation bias.

We tend to look for information and people that further solidify our beliefs, thereby leaving us blind and unprepared for the potential disasters or risks.

If you have doubts or worries, it is better to address them rather than getting reassurance from people that everything is all right. When the time comes, and disaster strikes, how prepared will you be to deal with it?

Could you have avoided the disaster all together had you listened to your doubts and not to other people confirming your bias?

You might want to consider using doubts to your advantage instead of throwing them aside.

But excessive positive thinking can stifle creativity and critical thought. If you reject your inborn curious thoughts and examining, you will never understand who you are as a person and what your beliefs are truly.

When we accept reality for what it is, rather than pretending it is something else, we can connect with society. We see the bigger picture. Using our natural abilities to make life better and full of purpose for all makes for a healthy society.

3. Diminish Anxiety

Negative thinking can cause you to suffer from more anxiety, but it does not have to be that way.

In fact, by visualising the potential disasters that may lie ahead and finding solutions for said disasters, you can find peace of mind.

This does not mean you worry over every small thing and then inevitably become anxious. No, you must keep your head clear. Only visualise negative outcomes when you are doing something important or trying something new. If you prepare yourself mentally for an unfamiliar experience, it will not seem daunting.  

It is better not to shove your negative outliers aside. Instead, you should welcome them. Try sitting still for a while and listening to your thoughts. What are they telling you? Mindfulness can help you understand yourself better and work on facing your fears.

Avoiding negative thinking doesn’t necessarily result in you finding solutions or peace. In fact, listening to them and addressing them can lead to serenity in your life.

4. Kill the Possibility of Potential Problems

As much as we think about the negative outcome, there still exists ‘optimism bias’. According to scientist Tali Sharot, optimism bias is our tendency to overestimate the good events that may happen in our life and underestimate the bad ones that may potentially occur.

Sure, we address the fact that tragedy may strike us, but we rarely apply it to ourselves. We tend to think of tragedy as something that others are going through.

That’s not good for us in the long run. There’s a major risk involved in optimism bias.

If you keep viewing life through this perspective, you won’t be able to see the warnings signs of a problem heading your way until it’s too late. And nobody wants that. Think about it. People know the risks of texting while driving and smoking, yet continue to do so. Why do you suppose that is?

A healthier method is to have negative thoughts to an extent, this way you will refrain from putting your life in danger by doing risky activities such as texting while driving.

5. Develop Integrity Through Negative Thinking

You should stop viewing everything in life through rose-tinted glasses and get rid of the Pollyanna approach. Which is recalling the good times more accurately than the bad ones.

Negative thinking can help ground you. Therefore, you are more likely to live an authentic life when having a negative approach.

Undoubtedly, you have heard the words ‘be positive’ countless times throughout your life. You have been told this in your social life as well as the workplace. It puts a pressure on people to behave a certain way.

Too much of anything is bad, positive thinking included. It can suppress your critical thinking as well as creativity.

Conclusion: Don’t turn into a pessimist. Find a balance

Once you begin to understand how negative thinking works and the results of using it to prepare for potential risks, you will find a balance between it and positive thinking.

Think about the following logic: if you try to convince yourself that everything will turn out all right, you are putting yourself under the risk of being unprepared for when things go horribly wrong. On the other hand, if you think through all the potential disastrous scenarios, you can work out a solution and consider your reaction to those situations. Then, all those fears aren’t as big as they first seemed.

Healthy scepticism can play a major role in your life, as it can counterbalance your optimism, thereby giving you a realistic view.

Remember, negative thinking leads to preparedness, which gets you to the moon. And who knows, maybe beyond?

Nothing can get in the way of your success when you are prepared to deal with failure.

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