The Mindfulness of Negative Thinking

Accepting and exploring negative thoughts is the first step toward freedom.

For as far back as we can remember, there has been a push to encompass positive thinking.

Certainly, looking toward the bright side has a variety of important benefits that enhance health and happiness for body, mind, and essence. There is also no denying the truth behind the old adage, “What you think about your bring about”.

Unfortunately, the entire truth is not being disseminated. Because of this, unneeded suffering and disconnection is becoming rampant. Becoming stuck in a downward spiral of negative thinking from time to time is a part of life that many of us will endure throughout the twists and turns of life's journey. For many, these times will evoke feelings of failure due to an inability to break free from these unpleasant thought processes. The problem, however, is not in the thoughts themselves.

In fact, negative thinking is a gift that brings deeper self-awareness and opportunity for personal development when approached mindfully.

Accepting and exploring negative thoughts is the first step toward freedom.

It begins with offering unconditional love and awareness to yourself. This must include all parts of who you are, not simply the parts that are the most pleasant. 

From a point of acceptance and objective curiosity, one may then begin to spend time with their negative thinking and for this, it will help to know that there are three forms of negative thoughts. One type comes from traumatic events of the past that become triggered by present circumstances. Healing the trauma will heal these thoughts and in severe cases, such as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, professional help may be required.

Another type of negative thinking is limiting and critical, such as if you make a mistake and say “I'm SO stupid” to yourself, or make other disparaging remarks. This type of thinking is actually a symptom of something much deeper that is going on inside of you.

The same as the sniffles are the symptoms of a cold, or even pneumonia, critical thoughts of yourself or other people, places or things, are a symptom of some type of underlying duress.
When you catch yourself in a limiting, or critical thought, you may not begin to feel gratitude for that thought. This is because the thought offers you the opportunity to explore what this symptom is really all about. For instance, are you feeling insecure?

When you feel insecure, your mind turns to negative thinking as a comforting technique.

While that may not make a lot of sense to your logical mind, consider how you feel when you tell yourself the limited or critical thought. While it may not be a pleasant feeling, it is more than likely familiar and could even feel validating in an unhealthy way.

While the schematics of being comforted by negative thoughts have too broad of a scope for this article, limited and critical thoughts are actually a backhanded way of the subconscious to offer comfort. 

While insecurity is one challenge that comes with the symptoms of negative thoughts, feeling fearful is another reason why these thoughts might be disturbing your peace. For instance, if you were hurt in a prior relationship and are now getting into a new relationship. In this case, your ego might start thinking a variety of limiting or critical thoughts in an attempt to keep you safe.
Knowing that limiting or critical thinking is a symptom of feeling insecure and of being fearful, you can go to work to become more secure and confident. Reaching out for professional assistance, reading books about how to become more secure and confident, or watching videos and applying the suggestions are a few ways to help you do this important life work.

As you accomplish the personal development of becoming more secure, with increased self-confidence, limited and critical forms of negative thinking will naturally and automatically become a thing of the past. What you will learn is that there was never a good reason to feel like a failure because of them, or to deny, suppress or resist these negative thoughts.

Now there is one more type of negative thinking to be aware of and these thoughts come about when you are in touch with your shadow self. True mindfulness realizes that there is both a light side and a dark side. Acknowledging both the light and the dark within yourself is important and can be very helpful in making decisions based firmly in the reality of any given situation.

You will find that the best decisions in life come from weighing both the good and the bad.

There is no need to become attached to these darker thoughts with anxiety or fear. You can simply allow your mind to express this part of the discernment process. At that point, you are able to follow those thoughts up with what could go right. This will help you make the best decision, or it can help you consider contingency plans in a pragmatic and objective manner.

Ultimately what you begin to learn with the mindfulness of negative thinking, is that as you allow your mind complete expression, both your positive and negative thoughts can become excellent tools. These mental tools have the capacity to help you achieve a deeper experience of health and happiness.


Tracy Morrow

Tracy Morrow is a Certified Meditation Teacher, Trainer and Writer. She is currently invested in helping create better lives by opening minds and resources in order to improve wellness and recovery, for families living with behavioral health challenges, through her nonprofit organization, Big Elephant. You can learn about her tips for mindful living at OmLifeLab.

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Melissa Rose Rothschild
Melissa Rose Rothschild

Tracy , This is very insightful.
We need to consciously evaluate our thinking and be open to what it informs us.
Thank you.

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