Table of Contents
1. Introduction to negative thoughts
Can you see yourself in the thoughts below ?
- I replay an incident in my mind ruminating (mostly on the unpleasant parts).
- I am always thinking about the future trying to manipulate the outcome in a certain situation.
- I need validation or approval from certain people to be happy.
- I feel upset and blame others when things do not go my way.
- Only when someone will act in a certain way will I feel good about myself.
- I have an idea of the future, an image of myself and if the events don’t go as planned then I feel let down every single time.
We may be able to relate to some of these thoughts with varying degrees of intensity.
Incessant negative thoughts often make the issue bigger than it is in our minds, thus robbing us of happiness and peace of mind. Such thought processes become an easy recipe for negative thinking, which draws us into depression, anxiety and low self-worth. When struggling with a tirade of such negative thoughts, we begin to wonder if there is a more effective way to overcome them besides sheer willpower. Many motivational speakers and self-help guides maintain that positive thinking is a choice, but it rarely feels that simple. To treat negative thinking, psychotherapists focus on a person’s capacity to change themselves (their thoughts, feelings and behaviours); however, this does not address any wider problems that often have a significant impact on someone’s health and well-being.
2. Definition of negative thoughts
There are various definitions of negative thoughts; the following is one such definition.
Negative thoughts are cognitions about the self, others, or the world in general that are characterised by negative perceptions, expectations, and attributions and are associated with unpleasant emotions and adverse behavioural, physiological, and health outcomes (Hawkley, 2013).
The following is a Saint’s perspective on negative thinking :
Negative thoughts tend to adversely affect the mind pervasively. There is no joy in life unless the mind is healthy. In other words, negative thinking takes away the joy of life. It makes the mind feeble, and this results in the end of optimism in life, thus making one’s life unhappy and purposeless.’ – Her Holiness (Mrs) Anjali Gadgil
3. Types of negative thoughts
Not all negative thoughts have a strong impact on us as we may not believe in them. They can be fleeting in nature, that is they come momentarily into our stream of consciousness and pass on. However, for some other types of negative thoughts, our mind can drift into different repetitive and negative thought patterns depending on our personalities. This often leads to skewed perceptions of reality. Cognitive behavioural therapists would term it as – Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANT) are thoughts that are negative and random in nature about one’s self.
Dr David Burns, a leading cognitive behavioural therapist, has identified some very common negative thought patterns, which are listed below (Burns, 1999).
|Serial no.||Type of negative thought||Short description|
|1||All-or-nothing thinking||We see things in black and white categories. If our performance falls short of perfect, we see ourselves as a total failure.|
|2||Over generalisation||We see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.|
|3||Mental filter||We pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that our vision of reality becomes darkened, like a drop of ink that discolours the entire beaker of water.|
|4||Disqualifying the positive||We reject positive experiences by insisting they ‘don’t count’ for some reason or other. In this way, we can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by our everyday experiences.|
|5||Jumping to conclusions||We make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support our conclusions.|
|6||Mind reading||We arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to us, even though we don’t have enough evidence about people’s thoughts about us. Also, we do not bother to verify it.|
|7||The fortune teller error||We anticipate that things will turn out badly, and we feel convinced that our prediction is an established fact.|
|8||Magnification (catastrophising) or minimisation||When we take our errors or flaws and exaggerate them or are dismissive of our or other people’s strengths and positive qualities.|
|9||Emotional reasoning||We assume that our negative emotions or feelings define the reality of how things are, when in actuality they may be different. I feel it, therefore it must be true. It is the habit of making decisions based on how we feel rather than being objective.|
|10||Should statements||We try to motivate/reprimand ourselves with ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’, ‘musts’ and ‘ought to haves’. The emotional consequences are guilt. When we direct ‘should’ statements toward others we feel anger, frustration and resentment.|
|11||Labelling and mislabelling||This is an extreme form of over generalisation. Instead of describing our error, one attaches a negative label to oneself – “I’m a loser”. When someone else’s behaviour rubs us the wrong way, we attach a negative label to him.|
|12||Personalisation||Personalisation is where a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to them. They take everything personally, even when something is not meant in that way.|
We have expanded upon how to overcome negative thought patterns in Section 6 (Spiritual solutions).
4. Impact of negative thinking
Negative thinking can be debilitating for the person suffering from them. It often also affects the people around the individual. Listed below are some of the impacts of negative thinking :
- It affects our physical and mental health.
- It adversely affects our relationships.
- Negative thinking breaks our spirit and resolve to grow positively.
- Excessive negative thoughts can lead to severe anxiety or clinical depression, rebellion, and in extreme cases lead to self-harm or even harming others. As per WHO statistics, over 300 million people are affected by depression worldwide (WHO, 2018) while around 800,000 people die from suicide globally each year (1 death every 40 seconds) (WHO, 2019).
- They have a direct impact on increasing psychosomatic illnesses leading to multiple chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, epilepsy and cancer.
- It leads to minor disruptions in daily functioning. However, in extreme cases, it can escalate into incapacitating personal, social and occupational impairments and even premature death.
5. Root causes of negative thoughts
Through spiritual research, we have found that up to 90% of mental illnesses can have their root cause in the spiritual dimension. Physical and psychological factors as root causes for mental illnesses are usually less in proportion as compared to spiritual factors. This is precisely the reason why often despite all the physical and psychological help being available, one is unable to develop a positive mindset. Understanding and acknowledging the true cause of negative thoughts is the first step towards achieving a sustainable positive change.
As per spiritual research, negative thoughts can be due to either physical, psychological and/or spiritual root causes as mentioned in the following sub-sections. The following tables gives the breakdown of the root causes of negative thoughts.
Source : Spiritual Research – 09 September 2019
In the case of extreme negative thoughts, it is more likely that the proportion of the spiritual component of the root cause is greater than 50%.
5.1 Psychological root causes
His Holiness Dr Athavale is a former renowned clinical hypnotherapist with close to 40 years of combined research experience in clinical hypnotherapy and spiritual research into the mind.
According to the findings of His research, negative thoughts come from the impressions of personality defects (such as anger, fear, jealousy, emotionalism, insecurity, judgement, negative thinking, etc.) in the subconscious mind. These impressions continually send impulses in the form of thoughts to the conscious mind. The state of our conscious mind is dictated by these impulses and we experience negativity or act incorrectly.
5.2 Spiritual root causes
According to modern science, severe anxiety or clinical depression may be caused due to biological and psychological factors, such as a response to sudden and major life changes, genetic causes, substance abuse, medication illness, etc (mayoclinic.org, 2019).
However, through spiritual research, we have found that often severe anxiety and clinical depression are more likely to be caused due to spiritual reasons. This also explains why psychiatrists are at best able to get a symptomatic cure, which is not permanent as the root cause is not addressed. Thus, the problem resurfaces or there is a relapse.
The main root cause for negative thoughts too is spiritual. The strength, duration and frequency of negative thoughts can be exacerbated to a large extent due to spiritual factors. Given ahead are the main spiritual factors that can be the cause of negative thoughts.
- Negative energies can affect a person from outside or also possess a person. They can take control over the body, mind and intellect of a person, especially when he is spiritually vulnerable.
- People who have more personality defects and higher ego are more prone to be targeted by negative energies, as they get attracted to people with similar defects and ego.
- Negative energies can also magnify a problem – for example, if a person has thoughts of anger, then negative energies can latch on to them. Negative energies can magnify and make such thoughts repetitive in the mind to make the person react disproportionately.
Note : Read more on how negative energies harm people through thoughts.
Destiny and give-and-take accounts
When people have negative give-and-take accounts with each other, it can create negative thoughts. Also, if one has severe destiny, they can have a higher proportion of negative thoughts. Destiny is one of the major reasons why people experience unhappiness in life. Through spiritual research it was found that 98% of our personalities are shaped from impressions in our subconscious minds that have been carried over from numerous past lives.
Note : Read more on destiny here.
The subtle bodies of dissatisfied ancestral spirits from the afterlife often affect their descendants. This can be due to various reasons. Having excessive negative thoughts can be a symptom of problems caused by departed ancestors.
Read more : What are ancestral problems ?
Effect of the moon on our thoughts
For millennia the popular view has been that the moon can adversely affect man’s mental state. Spiritual research undertaken by SSRF on the effect of the moon on the human psyche confirms this view. This is especially so on full moon and new moon nights, where there is an increase in negative thoughts and erratic behaviour.
6. Solutions to overcome negative thoughts
Solutions such as a workout, taking medication (as needed), breathing relaxation techniques, listening to calming music, maintaining a to-do list, having a healthy morning regime, etc. do help to positively engage the mind. However, as negative thoughts are related to the mind, physical solutions are more a distraction as opposed to being a comprehensive solution.
Some of the different popular psychological solutions include affirmations, practising mindfulness, seeking professional help from a psychiatrist, etc. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is also used widely and includes maintaining a diary of one’s thoughts and thereafter replacing the negative thoughts with positive affirmations. However, affirmations have their limitations. We have covered this in our article – Autosuggestions vs. affirmations.
Spiritual practice and spiritual remedies are potent tools to overcome negative thoughts, especially where the root cause is spiritual in nature. Spiritual practice generates positive spiritual energy, which helps to protect against negative energies and nullifies adverse destiny. To overcome negative thoughts, the following practices are recommended.
- Chanting : Chanting ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’ helps to overcome negative thoughts, especially in the case of ancestral problems. Along with this chant as per current times, it is also recommended to chant ‘Om Namo Bhagawate Vasudevaya’ to counter all forms of negative thoughts including those that are extreme in nature.
- Personality Defects Removal as a step of spiritual practice : H.H. Dr Athavale pioneered the Personality Defect Removal (PDR) Process. The PDR process helps to remove the impressions of personality defects in the subconscious mind. This cleanses the subconscious mind (which makes up 90% of the mind). In the PDR process, the exact incidents or negative thoughts are addressed through Autosuggestions, which makes it personalised and tailor-made for the individual. Below we have provided various Autosuggestions to overcome various negative thoughts patterns that have been identified by Dr. David Burns.
- Salt Water Remedy : This 15-minute remedy is an effective way to remove black energy which very often is the source of negative thoughts. Read more about the – Salt Water Remedy.
Battling with negative thoughts can be quite disheartening and exhausting. At the Spiritual Research Centre, we really understand your predicament and would like to share with you that you are not alone. It has been our experience that a sizable proportion of the world’s population suffers from negative thoughts at some point in their lives. The reason negative thoughts seem so hard to overcome is that most people try to address the problem with just physical and psychological solutions. However, this is less effective when the problem is spiritual in nature (which is most of the time). By putting into practice the spiritual steps we have suggested, you will find a definite improvement in your mental state and the quality of your life.
Burns, D. D., 1999. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
Hawkley, L. C., 2013. Negative Thoughts. [Online]
Available at: https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-1-4419-1005-9_1563 [Accessed 16 07 2019].