I wanted to share some insight into this negative thinking default we all seem to experience, and how we can work around this debilitating practice.
First of all, the root of negative thinking and pessimism has an evolutionary argument.
Take your ancestors, scrabbling around some many millions of years ago looking for food in order to survive. The most successful hominids developed an acute sense of awareness; and with that caution, when avoiding major predators.
In short it really pays off to be pessimistic whenever your life is concerned.
I mean, in the context of natural selection, consider the following thought forms:
“there’s probably not a sabertooth behind those trees”
“there probably is a sabertooth behind those trees”
Simply, the success of survival is heavily influenced by the latter perspective
Back to the 21st Century
Luckily and unluckily enough for us, we have all inherited the minds of creatures who always anticipated the worst possible scenarios.
But now instead of sabertooth tigers, we play out these first world, more comparatively irrational scenarios in our heads:
“What happens if I never pass my exams”
“What if I interview poorly”
“What if I never get 50 likes on my Instagram photos”
Most, if not all of us, enjoy the luxury of not being mauled by a bear. But still, the mind continues to conjure up the worst possibilities in the future.
As soon as we wake up, our minds begin to churn out the potential events for the day – prioritising the unsavoury and dwelling on the disconcerting.
My intention here is to create a logical dialogue, which will help our rational minds better understand why these thoughts are a normal process, purely predicated on the enormous success of our ancestors.
It is my hope that this information will bring us some respite when our reptilian mind gets the best of us, and if it does, recognise this:
Most, if not all of our basic needs are met – food, water, clothing, warmth and a roof above our heads.
We need not dwell on these first world problems for we are fortune enough to know with absolute certainty, we will all wake up tomorrow morning. Also know, not all people in this world are guaranteed that comfort.
When in Doubt
When you are stuck in that traffic jam and your mind begins to move in the typical direction of escalating anxious panic:
“what if i don’t get to work on time”
“what will my colleagues think of me”
“what if my boss pulls me aside for a chat”
Practice this one thing we all forget.
You are still alive.
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