I found myself trapped in a negative mindset, letting go of something I had held fast to for many years was difficult, it was as if I knew how to feel sad, miserable and afraid, the change was frightening.
I was a deliberate pessimistic, I felt guilty if I felt happy.
Fear and hurt were what I had become accustomed too and I had lived my life on adrenaline for so much of my life that once I had escaped the abusive relationship, I didn’t know how to cope with life away from someone controlling me.
I had been a puppet on a string for 11 years, longer if you look back to my childhood, being raised by an angry alcoholic father, I had become a submissive to domineering men.
My negative mindset was set in stone
While I felt the world had done me wrong and in analyzing my life many people had done me wrong, it was I who refused to let go of my past.
I was choosing to hang onto the negative mindset and it very nearly killed me.
Suicide was never far from my thoughts.
My negative automatic thoughts taunted me daily:
- Nothing ever goes right for me
- Everybody hates me
- Nobody could ever love me
- I was ugly, fat, worthless and stupid
- I am a useless mother
- I can’t cope on my own
All these things had been said to me, over and over by the person who promised to love and protect me, my first husband.
Yet he abused me in ways unimaginable.
Domestic violence doesn’t quite fit what happened to me, sadistic, torture and evil play a role too and I feel that’s important to note here, as I am no longer the victim of extreme abuse.
I survived it and I no longer believe the things he said to me.
He had set my negative mindset into motion and I fought long and hard to change it and if I can change my dark and twisted thoughts then anyone can.
You have to want to change your thoughts
I did not wake up one morning and decide to become positive, I had to hit rock bottom and then fall even further into despair before I was able to pick myself up off the ground.
If you feel like there is no hope for you, then that’s the best place to start, because there’s only one way to go and that is up.
It has taken me almost 9 years to change my negative mindset but you can decide to start changing yours today and the sooner you get to work, the sooner you will reap the benefits.
Negative thinking shapes your life, it shapes you into the person you become if you feel you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
You walk with your head down, it’s a heavy load to carry and you become physically and emotionally exhausted.
A negative mindset controls everything for you, you are no longer in charge.
You can not make decisions because your negative thoughts will prevent you.
Your cognitive distortions become your personality, you are trapped yet there is an escape route but that involves change and hard work and determination.
If you have a negative mindset you will identify with black and white thinking, to you it’s all or nothing, it’s good or bad, its success or failure, it is winning or losing and the in-between things do not exist.
Black and white thinking
You want it all or you want nothing.
Compromise does not exist, you are right in your beliefs and everyone else is wrong.
While black and white thinking is often a trait we find in leaders, it leads to a lonely and complicated existence.
The world is not black or white, there are many shades of grey.
Those with a negative mindset often find that they overgeneralize things, it was one of my many negative traits before I had even tried to do something, I knew it was going to go wrong.
I had already set myself up to fail.
If I made a small mistake on a task, that was it, I was useless, I may as well not even bother.
Every small molehill I made into a mountain. It was all my fault.
For me I acted this way because I was protecting myself, past lessons had taught me that when I did something wrong, it would end in violence, but that’s not true, as I never did anything that deserved a punishment in inhumane ways, yet this is how my mindset had been moulded.
A friend once went out with a group of friends, I saw them walk past my house having a great time, I was infuriated and hurt, why had I not been invited, what had I done wrong?
I decided that I must be a bad friend, I wasn’t worthy of their friendship and I would never have friends. I even went as far as phoning that friend and telling her how cruel she had been for not inviting me and for pretending to be my friend.
I didn’t give her chance to reply, I hung up.
Days later she came to see me and I felt ashamed when she showed me the numerous text messages she had sent me inviting me out, she had even told my “first husband” that I had better be there.
Of course, my controlling husband didn’t pass on the message, I also had changed my phone number due to getting a new phone after the husband had smashed it up and I had not given her the new number as I would have to explain why I had one.
Mobile phones were a new thing back then, you could not change your number as easily as you can now and it was her who thought I was ignoring her.
I felt a fool as you can imagine.
My negative mindset cost me that friend because I overreacted and she soon started to distance herself from me.
I had become a mind reader, I knew what was going to happen next, I had filled in a job application form and before I had even-handed it in I knew what the outcome would be, so what was the point of handing it in?
I have always dreamed of writing a book, but what was the point when it would be a flop?
I still haven’t written that book!
Thinking errors destroy us, we cast quick judgments on ourselves, on others and on the world around us and its based purely on our negative beliefs and not on facts. Which often leaves us jumping to the wrong conclusions and suffering because of it.
My own negative mindset is a work in progress and CBT and DBT have helped me enormously yet there is one area in which I struggle and that is with disqualifying the positives.
When someone says something like:
- You look really nice
- I love your hair
- I love that dress
- You’re such a strong person
- You’re a great friend
- Your work is amazing
I feel myself shrinking when I receive positive praise, I guess I have not had much of that over the years and I still doubt my abilities.
Disqualifying the positives
It’s so easy to accept a compliment for my children because I know they are amazing and when someone says, your kids are adorable or I am told how well-behaved they are, I smile and nod and agree because they are and I am extremely proud of them.
Yet tell me I am a great mother and the guilt begins to creep in, I am a mentally ill mother who some days can’t even leave the house.
My negative mindset is still controlling a small proportion of my life.
I am still quick to jump to conclusions if you have arranged to meet me and you are a fraction of a minute late, I know you’re not coming, you have forgotten or you just said it because you didn’t want to hurt me.
I stop those automatic thoughts as they flutter their way through my mind and toss them away.
I am able to remind myself that there could be many reasons for you being late and one of them is clearly your just running late.
This would normally turn into paranoia, we think we are fortune tellers and can tell what others are thinking about us and it’s always negative.
I often associate this trait of a negative mindset with OCD because it becomes a thinking ritual, you have to, should do, act in a certain way because if not something negative will be the result.
You’re changing who you are because of these negative thoughts.
Have you ever found yourself thinking:
- I have to do this because…
- I will never be able…
- I can’t do …
- I must be nice to people or …
- I ought to be a better…
These feelings are driven by fear, anxiety and uncertainty and we put ourselves under extreme strain.
I am changing my own mindset because I want a better life, will you be thinking about your own mindset?
How many of you can recognise yourself in me?
Do you think you have a negative mindset?