Stress Relief Strategy: How To Overcome Negative Thinking (Part 4)

by Doc Orman, M.D.


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This is the sixth and final blog post in my 6-part series on how to overcome negative thinking.   

In my five previous posts on this topic, we’ve covered: 

In this final post, I want to have a discussion with you about how you can tell when your negative thinking is true and appropriate…and when it is not. 

There Are No “Negatives” In The Box Called “Life” 

You know how when you buy something from a store and it comes in a big box, there’s usually a list of all the contents of the box printed on the outside or on a separate sheet of paper located inside the box.  This list contains all the components that should be included in the box, and by inference, if something is not on the list, it’s not in the box. 

Well, in many ways this same analogy can be applied to life.  There are certain things that come in the “box” called “life” and other things that don’t.  For example, in “the box called life,” you will find lots of living things and lots of non-living things.  In the category of living things, you will find plants, animals, bacteria, viruses, and human beings.  You will find human bodies in the box.  And you will find human language in the box.   You will also find many events (or potential events) in the box. 

But what you won’t find in “the box called life” is any negatives.  Negatives are not part of life.  Negatives only arise from human bodies and from human language.  That’s the only place they exist.  They do not occur in life, per se. 

Most Negative Thinking Is Faulty Thinking

If you understand this principle that negatives don’t come in the box called life, you should always be suspicious anytime you are thinking negatively. This is not to say that negative thinking doesn’t have value, or that it is always wrong or faulty.  It’s just to point out that the odds are very much in favor that most of our negative thoughts are going to be incomplete, incorrect, or otherwise unrealistic. 

Thus, you should always treat your automatic, negative thinking as potentially flawed.  This should be your impetus for always trying to challenge and disprove any negative thoughts you might have.  Sometimes, you won’t be able to do this (meaning your negative thoughts may be just fine), but much of the time, you will be able to see through any weaknesses in your initial, automatic negative ideas. 

Positive Thinking Can Be Flawed As Well 

And while people who have gone through life and have bodies that have been conditioned to think very positively much of the time may have certain advantages over the rest of us, they are not anymore immune from flawed thinking than we are. 

Positive thinkers tend to ignore risks, dangers, and other realistic aspects of life. Their automatic body tendencies can be just as flawed and just as inappropriate as our automatic negative thinking can be. 

So it’s not just negative thinking, or even positive thinking that is commonly flawed.  All types of automatic, conditioned thinking are likely to be wrong much of the time.  This goes for automatic thought processes such as: 

  • Our automatic assumptions
  • Our expectations about ourselves, about others, about life, etc.
  • Our automatic ways of perceiving events in life
  • Our thoughts that automatically generate our emotions
  • Our theories that underlie our behaviors
  • Our judgments about other people
  • Our thoughts about our own value, worth, and lovability
  • Our thoughts about how to have successful relationships
  • And much, much more 

Back To Stress, Automaticity, And Triggering 

Hopefully, by going through this entire 6-part series on how to overcome negative thinking, you’ve gained more insight into the following key principle: 

MUCH OF OUR STRESS IS CAUSED BY OUR BODIES—THROUGH THE TWIN FUNCTIONS OF AUTOMATICITY AND TRIGGERING—WHICH FREQUENTLY RENDER US BLIND TO CERTAIN TRUTHS ABOUT LIFE. 

If you fully grasp this one key principle, you are well on your way to having a new, and more accurate understanding of the origins of human stress.  While there is more to the story than is captured above, this is the starting point that will put you in the best position possible to more accurately understand where stress actually comes from in your life. 

Hope you enjoyed this 6-part series and that you gained something valuable from it.  Please feel free to comment below, if you’d like to share your thoughts or reactions.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Restless leg remedies February 29, 2012 at 9:36 AM

when you think negatively automatically it create stress in your mind and a person should always thinks positively
the positive thinking always give you relaxation in your mind

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