Also called mental ruminations, negative thoughts often interfere with daily life. How to explain this negative spiral? And what to do when these beliefs invade us? Amélie Boukobza gives us some answers.
Unpleasant comment from a colleague, a friend or even their significant other… In no time, a negative review can ruin your entire day. A proven fact that concerns us all, since negative thoughts carry more weight than positive thoughts. What should we do when our brain is looping around on these “bad” thoughts? Answers from our expert, Amélie Boukhobza, psychologist.
In case of negative thinking, past traumas resurface
“When you are confident and optimistic, you feel like you can handle anything. But when negative and limiting thoughts begin to invade us, the impact is strong: reduced self-confidence and closure to new opportunities, regardless of past successes, abilities and assets. The main problem is that the negative often outweighs the positive!“, reveals Amélie Boukobza.
In fact, when a negative thought (re)surfaces, past experiences, particularly traumas or failures, resurface.
“They can condition the brain to anticipate and focus on the negative, creating a breeding ground for even stronger and more persistent negative thoughts.“, warns the expert.
These inner judgments, often critical or pessimistic – such as “I’m not good enough“, “I’m not up to it“, “I’m rubbish“, or “I’m not going to make it” – “can occur following stressful events, painful memories, in anticipation of anxiety-provoking events, or even spontaneously“, she assures.
Result ? These negative beliefs begin to loop in the head, further reinforcing their impact and their persistence. It is from this key moment that mental health becomes affected.
The dark side of mental ruins
“Mental rumination is capable of transforming fleeting worries into omnipresent concerns, considerably affecting mental health (anxiety, depression, etc.) and quality of life!“, warns Amélie Boukobza.
The problem ? Negative thoughts are accompanied by stronger emotional reactions than positive ones.
“This emotional intensity gives them a more marked presence in consciousness, therefore more difficult to ignore or overcome“, specifies the psychologist.
Our brains are wired to focus on the negative
This tendency is explained by the way our brain works, “programmed” to focus more on threats and negative facts. A cerebral “conditioning”, validated by our expert psychologist.
“Yes, the brain has a natural bias towards the negative. It’s actually an ancient defense mechanism designed for survival and makes us more sensitive to any potential threats. So while this bias can be useful in the face of danger, it can also amplify negative thoughts beyond their real importance. Conclusion: little by little, we become incapable of taking risks, even small ones.she warns.
Good in his body, good in his head!
The key ? Start by accepting your negative emotions
While it is not easy to recognize and understand this negative bias, accepting it is the first step to overcoming it.
“To do this, you must start by being attentive to your emotions. When feeling overwhelmed, it is also important to analyze the original thoughts and question their validity: Do I really never do anything well? Or that I can’t succeed in this or that area? By challenging these negative thoughts, we can recognize them for what they are: destructive, inaccurate and limiting beliefs. And maybe learn how to transform them!”relates Amélie Boukobza.
“Recent studies suggest that suppressing certain negative thoughts may actually be beneficial for mental health. Contrary to what has always been said…” concludes our expert.