“Are you kidding me, what else can go wrong? Can things get any worse?” Most of us have probably said something like this at some point when emotional, financial, relationship, or health setbacks seemed to be piling up. But this type of thinking, often called “stinking thinking,” really isn’t helpful. In fact, it may be quite harmful. Negative thinking creates more negative thinking, leaving little, if any, room to reap the benefits of positive thinking.
Thoughts like, “It’s just a matter of time before something else terrible happens. Bad things always happen to me,” become a barrier to positive thoughts and prevent you from focusing on good things in your life. Most times, the unfortunate things that happen in life are things that you have no control over, so wasting emotional energy on negative thoughts like, “Why me?!” or “What’s next?,” is a dead-end proposition that only results in more negative stinking thinking. A healthier approach is to simply acknowledge the bad things that have happened as negative events and turn your attention to what’s good in your life, like people who bring you joy or activities that create feelings of happiness, contentment, and gratitude.
A note of caution: Be careful who you share your misery with. Some people will respond to your situation with negative comments like, “When it rains it really pours” or “Bad things come in threes so watch out, ” which just contribute to the negativity and add to your worried thoughts and feelings of anguish. So, be careful to only share your distress with people who will provide strength and positivity.
There is strength in positive thoughts, actions, and beliefs, so work hard to avoid negativity in all situations. Remember, when life hits you hard, acknowledge it as painful and difficult and then make the choice to do all you can to surround yourself with positivity and people who bring you joy and happiness. Please know this isn’t a lecture on seeing life through rose-colored glasses; it’s an effective strategy to employ when life hits you hard several times over.
In preparation to defend against stinking thinking, take a moment and create a list of people in your life who bring you joy and radiate positivity. Next, create a list of activities that you enjoy – either solo or with others – and that result in feelings of happiness and joy. Keep this list with you so when you find yourself engaging in stinking thinking, stop and pull out your list for ideas of ways to move out of negativity and step into positivity. It won’t always be easy, and you won’t always be successful, but that’s ok. Being more mindful of the damaging effects of negative thinking and having a plan of action ready to use is a great place to start. Change is never easy so be kind to yourself as you begin to use this new plan of action.