Do you struggle to swap your negative thinking with more positive thoughts? Or maybe you’re convinced that positivity will manifest only happiness and success, so you avoid those negative thoughts altogether.
But let’s question this approach, because some negative thinking is actually good for you.
Negative thinking has received a bad rap in the past 30 years. And, with movies and books like The Secret and the growing Law of Attraction movement, positive thinking has ousted negative thoughts from our lives.
When balanced with positivity, studies have shown that negative thinking actually keeps our minds and bodies healthy.
But when balanced with positivity, studies have shown that negative thinking actually keeps our minds and bodies healthy. Studies also show that a more critical approach to life can improve its quality overall.
Here Are 5 Benefits of Negative Thinking That Will Change Your Life:
Read on to learn the surprising benefits of negative thinking, along with what negative thinking encompasses (hint: it doesn’t mean always being pessimistic).
1. Negative Thinking Prepares Us for Hard Times
You can ask the Universe for as many things as you want, but your positive thinking will not materialize a problem-free life. There will always be hard times ahead in some shape or form. So why not prepare for them?
In fact, negative thinking saves lives and gets us to the moon.
In his book, Shoot for the Moon, psychologist Richard Wiseman cites preparedness as one of the success factors in the 1960’s U.S. space program. The rocket scientists of that era harnessed their negative thinking to imagine potential disasters. They then corrected their designs to prevent those issues from ever happening.
How much do you prepare for the future?
Before you change jobs, investigate if the new company is financially sound. Or, if you want to move in with a new partner, do some due diligence first. In the long run, you’ll save yourself much personal, professional, and financial pain.
2. Negative Thinking Crushes Anxiety
Yes, negative thinking can create more anxiety, but only if you let it. Instead, when you confront your fears and worries, you discover a golden path to inner peace.
Our brains are hard-wired for fear, as a survival mechanism meant to help us escape danger. But we no longer have to face lions and tigers and bears on our commute to work each morning. Today we label our modern and more subtle fears as stress, which we know to avoid if we want to stay healthy.
Therefore, you decide to ignore the worries, all of which are too abstract or complex to comprehend. Or you shove the underlying causes aside, putting blame on external sources like your boss, partner, or that guy who stole your parking space.
But are these fears really external? Or are they inner conflicts vying for your attention?
Sometimes too many visualizations, positive mantras, and gratitude lists only perpetuate an illusion that we need to dismantle in order to grow and thrive.
So, instead of ignoring your negative outliers, welcome them. Mindfulness is a brilliant way to sit still and listen to your thoughts. And, when you listen without judgment, you understand what your unconscious is telling you.
Want to learn more about mindfulness? Here’s How Mindfulness Actually Works + A Practice You Should Try The Next Time You’re Feeling Off
The negative thinking you’ve been avoiding can show you how to have a serene life when you are able to address and move past your fears (or at least acknowledge them in a healthy, realistic way).
3. Negative Thinking Aces Your Decision Making
Healthy skepticism leads to better decision-making, according to studies. Why? Because it allows you to slow down and contemplate.
Doubt is a natural mechanism that challenges presumptions and fosters analytical thinking to make evidence-based and better informed decisions. Both doubt and healthy skepticism are forms of ‘negative’ thinking (note the difference between this and pessimism).
Compare this to an over-optimistic approach, which leads to confirmation bias – a tendency to seek information and even people to confirm your beliefs, leaving you blind to potential risks.
To demonstrate this overly optimistic approach, let’s pretend you had a relationship that you wanted to make work. You ignored your initial doubts and dove in with an open heart and soul. As you continued to justify worrying signs, you sought the ‘right’ friends to reassure you. But it all ended in disaster.
Since you wanted the relationship to work, you never investigated your doubts or feelings from the get-go.
So, next time, use those doubts to your advantage.
4. Negative Thinking Encourages Integrity
Ditch the rose-tinted glasses and shed the pollyanna approach. Instead, use negative thinking to ground you in reality and live an authentic life.
How many times have we heard be positive? The pressure to act positively both in society and the workplace is enormous.
But excessive positive thinking can stifle creativity and critical thought. And as long as you deny innate curiosity and questioning, you never know who you really are or what to believe.
Excessive positive thinking can stifle creativity and critical thought.
Also, this positive thinking craze has led many down a path of superficiality and narcissism. Isn’t it rather selfish to ask the Universe for what you want? Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on what the greater good needs?
When we see reality for what it is, we realize we are not alone but part of a larger scheme – our society as a whole. And a healthy society is one where everyone uses their natural abilities to make life meaningful for all.
5. Negative Thinking Squashes Problems In the Making
Scientist Tali Sharot explains the optimism bias as “our tendency to overestimate our likelihood of experiencing good events in our lives and underestimate our likelihood of experiencing bad events.”
That means you see yourself and your family living a long, happy, and idyllic life. But you are less optimistic for your neighbors, their neighbors, and the rest of the world. If anything bad will happen, it will not happen to you, but to them.
Yet there’s a major risk in optimism bias.
You fail to see the warning signs of genuine problems until it’s too late. Why else would people who know the health risks of smoking, texting while driving, and overeating continue these behaviors despite the dangers?
Instead, a healthier approach calls for some negative thinking, which pushes you to take precautions such as refraining from multitasking while driving.
The Power of Negative Thinking: You Don’t Have to Be a Pessimist – Just Find the Balance
As your understanding of negative thinking grows, you will create a more balanced life. Just as happiness cannot exist without sadness, negative thinking in the form of healthy skepticism counterbalances your optimism for a healthier, safer mindset.
In fact, negative thinking saves lives and gets us to the moon.
And remember, when you explore the darkness you’ve been holding back, a little sadness may manifest, and this is fine as long as it’s temporary. When broken, your soul needs time to heal. Just note that if your current contemplation turns into consistent negative rumination, you need to stop and seek help.
So embrace your negative side to lead a more balanced, harmonious and fulfilling life.