Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Do you know someone who is always negative? No matter what’s going on in their life, it’s not good enough. They never say anything that’s positive.
Many—perhaps most—people tend to focus a lot on negative things. We fret about the past, about missed opportunities, mistakes and failures; we fear the future with all its uncertainty; we worry about our relationships, our investments, and our security. We compare ourselves to others in an unfavourable light, and we fear that we are inadequate. These negative thoughts continually arise and, with attention, they grow and persist.
Newspapers know that negative news sells better than positive news. Bad news always sells. Negative news holds more fascination than positive news.
Obstacles to a positive attitude
I think four main obstacles tend to get in the way of maintaining a positive attitude:
- anger and
Fear triggers worry. Did you know that the average person has 10,000 separate thoughts each day? That works out to be 3.5 million thoughts a year and worry triggers anger. Doubt follows all these negative emotions.
But are your thoughts really so unimportant?
- Ralph Waldo Emerson said, Beware of what you set your mind on because that you surely will become.
- Norman Vincent Peale said, Change your thoughts and you change the world..
What kind of thoughts fill your mind each day? The choice is yours and mine. It’s up to ourselves. But one thing is very clear: Negative thinking can drag you down.
Four kinds of negative thinking
So many people struggle with negative thinking. Negative thoughts poison the mind, and ultimately the soul. Here are four common examples of negative thinking:
We all fall into this trap sooner or later. Life is hard for all of us. As the saying goes, into each life some rain must fall. It’s easy to think that somehow we’ve been dealt an unfair hand, that while our neighbour is basking in sunshine, we’re living in a perpetual downpour. This self-pitying person says, You don’t know what I’m going through or You try living with this 24 hours a day and see how happy you are.
This is the other extreme. Blaming is an attempt to find a scapegoat for your problems. You can’t face life on your own, so you find another person who seems to be the source of your problems. It might be your husband or your wife, it could be your children or your parents. It often is a friend, a neighbour, or your boss or someone at church. Blaming is dangerous because it leads to perpetual victim hood.
There are two more types that I will describe in Part 2.