In this month’s Mental Health Spotlight segment, we’re joined by mental health correspondent and certified local counsellor, Sue Morrison, to discuss negative thinking and strategies to confront it.
“We can all succumb to negative thinking…it’s more common than we think,” Morrison explains. “According to the National Science Foundation, 80% of people’s thoughts are negative.”
Morrison traces the origins of negative thinking to our evolutionary history, however, “we no longer have to have negative thinking and be on guard, waiting for danger or for some sort of event to impact us.”
She draws a parallel between negative thinking and stress, explaining that a persistent pattern of negative thoughts can adversely affect our nervous system, leading to both physical and mental consequences if not addressed.
Negative thinking can also become a significant part of subconscious narratives which dictate many of our core beliefs about ourselves. However, such thinking can be changed.
“Our brain is neuroplastic—it’s malleable and pliable, and we can change our thoughts,” she says. “It’s a matter of becoming aware, finding the tools, and then making the change.”
Addressing negative thinking on a personal level involves gaining awareness of the issue, building a strong support network, and surrounding oneself with positive influences, according to Morrison.
She further highlights the potential of cognitive-behavioural therapy as an effective approach for individuals to recognize and reevaluate detrimental thoughts, ultimately leading to the creation of alternative, more positive thought patterns.