Negative Thinking: Effect on the Brain

Brain Synapses


I read about an experiment that was performed to determine if negativity had any impact on brain function.  Interestingly, it was noted that even something so simple as when a negative word (no, not, can’t, won’t, etc) was used, the electric signals in the brain were disrupted for a fleeting moment.

On a small scale, this wouldn’t be a concern, but when negative thoughts are prevalent, the frequent disruptions of electric signals can alter the chemicals in our brain.  In today’s world, we seem to be bombarded with bad news and crises, which will  have a much greater effect.  Negative thoughts tend to foster more negativity resulting in a downward spiral of our mood.  Physical symptoms start to appear, such as headaches, insomnia, digestive problems, irritability, etc.  An example of one unfortunate effect of this is depression, a serious and debilitating condition.

Cursing, worrying, and anxiety are other symptoms of negative thinking.  We know media coverage of ‘bad news’ can have a detrimental effect, but what can we do about it?  Each time we hear it, our brain reacts, so one thing we can do is limit the amount of time we spend listening to repeated reports of disturbing events.


Consider the following consequences that might result from a negative attitude, and make note of those that apply to you:

Lower self-esteem

Eating disorders

Less energy, less productive

Missing out on all the positive and joyful experiences in life


Sleep disorders

Lower immunity

Anger and irritability

Lower tolerance levels

Memory problems

Difficulty concentrating, inability to think clearly

Emotional outbursts

Now take a moment to think about how you feel when you interact with a negative person.  Think about how your negative thoughts influence your words and actions.  How does that affect those around you?  This can easily become a self-perpetuating cycle of negativity, causing despair and a feeling of hopelessness.


 Put a positive spin on it.  For example:

Instead of thinking “I’m not trained to handle this,”  think  “I’m really going to learn a lot from this experience.”

Rather than “I’ll never get everything done,”  think  “I’ll make a list, prioritize, and recruit help.”

When you’re beating yourself up over making a mistake, ask yourself what your best friend would say to you.  Or better yet, what would you say to your best friend?

Would you call him/her  “Stupid”  “Useless”  “Lazy”  “Insensitive”  etc… ?   No.  Chances are you would be reassuring, forgiving, and encouraging.  Remember – You are your own best friend, so be kind to yourself!

Avoid negative people.  They’ll zap your energy and may affect your own outlook on life.  The saying “misery loves company” is often true.

Don’t get sucked in.  If the negativity is coming from the person you’re caring for, walk away for several minutes.  If possible, go outside for a breather and refocus on all your positives.

Relax your personal expectations; don’t be so hard on yourself.

We’re human, each with our own imperfections.  If God, who is perfect, accepts us as we are, how can we not do the same?


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