What Causes Negativity
Negativity can come from a few different places. It may the result of negativity absorbed as a child, it may be the result of fear and excessive worry, it can even be that someone just has a more pessimistic type of personality. The one thing all of these reasons have in common though, is that in each case, negativity is a habit.
One good thing about negativity is that it's not a mysterious or complex thing the majority of the time. It's origins are usually pretty simple. Regardless of the reason or reasons behind it, negativity is generally just another habit people have gotten into over time. For example, fear is a very powerful motivator and a lot of negativity is simply fear in disguise. Fear is very important. Without fear we would do things like walk out in front of traffic or take ridiculous risks and get hurt. However, there can come a time when the mind becomes too overprotective. Fear should stop you from dying. It should not stop you from living. A lot of times, there will be something someone really wants to do but negative thoughts end up changing their mind. This is because of fear. Let's say there is a job you really want to take and you really think you'd be perfect for it. But oh, here come those negative thoughts.
Yeah, but it's kind of far away.
Yeah, but they probably wouldn't hire me anyway.
Yeah, but I probably wouldn't be any good at it.
These things are actually fear, probably fear of change or fear of failure. People can even be afraid of success. It's important to evaluate and challenge all of your reasons (both for and against something) to make sure they are valid and not just your mind creating negativity because you are afraid of something.
The key to changing negative thoughts is to find out where they are coming from and then change your reaction to that. If they are coming from fear, you would need to find out what the fear is based on and address that. If they are the result of criticism or abuse and invalidation in childhood, that needs to be processed so that you can move on. After you address the root cause, you can break the habit and change your reaction to situations that are going on now. It's not always as difficult as it sounds. Often once these things are faced, their power over you becomes greatly reduced. So much of what we are and what we do is habit and learned behavior, even how we react emotionally. That's one the best things about it, because habits can be broken and new ways can be learned.
Let's say you are walking down the street and a guy frowns at you as he walks by. If you are prone to negative thoughts, you may think you must have done something to cause this, or you may think to yourself that this person must be a jerk. You might let it upset you, or ruin your day. A more realistic way to see it would be that the guy probably did that for reasons of his own that have nothing to do with you, since you don't know him and he doesn't know you. Maybe he didn't even realize he was doing it. There is no reason to personalize the behavior of others, especially in situations where the facts don't support that conclusion.
All it really takes is awareness and a willingness to challenge yourself. This is one reason narcissists have so much trouble changing anything. They are in such deep denial of so many things and their self-awareness is so limited that they cannot look at their behavior or observe their thoughts the way that non-narcissistic people can. Because of this, they can never see where they are going wrong, even if they wanted to. One of the key things that is required to change any type of behavior or thinking pattern is challenging conclusions so you can decide if you are being reasonable and realistic or not. They are not able to perceive things realistically and they cannot even formulate - let alone withstand - any challenges to their conclusions or beliefs anyway. Even working with someone who does this for them is usually extremely problematic. It will still likely end in denial, abuse and anger because to challenge their beliefs is to threaten their false image, and that cannot be tolerated. If their conclusions and beliefs are being challenged, that must meant they are wrong. If you can never be wrong, you can never learn anything. In order to change and learn and grow, you can't be afraid to be wrong, and narcissists most definitely are. They must always be perceived as correct and flawless. To be seen otherwise is to be exposed as a failure, and they fear that probably more than anything else.
For non-narcissistic people, the process of unraveling negative thoughts and their causes is usually a lot less complicated. Most non-narcissistic people are not in such deep denial and their perception is a lot clearer than people who have a narcissistic disorder. There links to two different free printable worksheets at the end of this article that can help you in this process if you'd like to use them. Challenging your thoughts may seem odd when you are not used to it, but people usually see the benefits of doing it pretty quickly. You might be surprised when you learn how much of what we all do is really just a habitual reaction - even our own thoughts and how we think. It's so empowering to learn that because it means that you can change it if you don't like it. And seriously, is there anything more powerful than that?