Addicted To Negativity: Why You Can’t Move On From Everything Terrible

Addicted To Negativity: Why You Can’t Move On From Everything Terrible

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while now but (surprise, surprise) I’ve been too busy. Anyway, the topic should be a familiar one for a lot of people. Particularly, those of us who feel an uncanny compulsion to fixate on everything terrible.

For example, for some ARMYs, it’s the incessant need to keep track of bad things that people say about BTS and the fandom. That and all the terrible and toxic drama on Twitter that you somehow can’t pull yourself away from…even if you know you should.

But what motivated me to write this blog was coming across a comment by a follower who admitted that they simply COULD NOT ignore bad things that trolls/antis said.

Image result for feed the troll

Even though I blogged about the unbothered life, it’s true some people just can’t seem to find it. I’m not talking about being occasionally triggered or feeling righteous anger when something genuinely bad happens. I mean people who are constantly thinking and talking about negative subjects, and whose minds instinctively pull towards the negative.

What you don’t know or realize is that the reason you can’t walk away from bad news and are constantly feeding yourself toxicity is you might genuinely be hooked on it. Your brain may CRAVE negativity.

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That probably seems strange, but know this: the same area of your brain that triggers positive, pleasure-seeking behaviors ALSO responds to pain and negativity. The brain is very flexible in that it can and WILL rewire itself to treat negative-seeking behaviors as rewarding. You may think you’re simply fighting back against trolls who have something bad to say about BTS, but that’s just a conscious excuse. Unconsciously, you’re giving yourself a dopamine rush.

One person described it as “negaholism.” Another, Dr.  Ali Benizer, said something I found rather alarming:

People think of the reward centers of the brain as the “pleasure centers,” so it makes sense to them when someone gets addicted to cocaine, or crack, or sex. Because cocaine makes your brain light up, makes you high, and then you want more. Duh.

That’s the addiction that people know. But you don’t need cocaine or meth or crack to create a self-reinforcing addictive circuit in the brain. Anything that activates the beta-endorphin or dopamine pathways will do.

It turns out that pain and negative emotions (e.g. self-pity, anger, guilt) also activate the beta-endorphin and dopamine pathways. Chronic jaw pain or painful thoughts light up those pathways just like the infamous addictive drugs do.

Constantly feeding yourself negative thoughts and information is the mentally chemical equivalent of chasing a high. And wouldn’t you know it? Constant exposure to negativity and stress can have some pretty bad effects on your mind and body including elevated blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. Not only that, but you may find yourself unable to really enjoy anything because of the instinct, the need to see what terrible things you can find to feed the dark cloud hanging over your head.

How Do You Move On From Negative Thinking?

thinking positively

If all you ever see is the terrible things in life, finding a single positive thought can feel like trying to find a lump of gold floating somewhere in the vast Pacific Ocean. This is no doubt true if you’re in a situation that feels hopeless and impossible to escape.

But you have to try. So where to begin?

Believe it or not, moving on from negative thinking often begins with gratitude. What are you thankful for? Who are you thankful for? How often do you make it a habit to find the silver linings in life? I won’t lie to you; it can be a struggle to get that ball rolling when it feels like the most natural thing in the world to give in to toxic thoughts and behaviors. But every time you reach for a grateful thought rather than a negative one, you’re working a very important mental muscle.

Image result for mental muscle gif(okay, that gif is a little weird….but somehow, I can’t stop staring….)

In any case, it can take time to train yourself to think positively rather than negatively. Your negative mindset probably took years to cultivate, so don’t expect your brain to accept any adjustments overnight. But there are some things you can do to make it somewhat easier on yourself as you make this mental change.

  • Stay away from negative people: They say birds of a feather flock together, and often you may find your own mood spiraling downward if you spend time in the presence of very negative or toxic individuals.
  • Limit your exposure to any negative news: If you read a lot of news sources, you might think the world is worse than it is. Turns out, terrible news is big business and negative clickbait sells. If you feel something is going to trigger you, take a moment to think whether or not the article is really worth the click.
  • Stop looking for something to be upset about: You ever watch a moving YouTube video and then scroll down to read the comments…and instantly regret doing so? If you’re feeling good about something or just having an okay day, avoid turning your mind to negative issues and seeking out anxiety-causing situations because of a sense that existing in that state of mind “somehow feels right.” You are allowed to be happy.
  • Consider taking up meditation: This is definitely a big one for altering your mindset. Studies suggest that years of meditation can physically alter your brain! Not to mention the potential health benefits.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Catching your zzzs can actually heal your body and elevate your mood. On the flipside, a lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety, depression. Take care to get some rest to help yourself feel as good as possible.

It may take you YEARS to break the negative thinking habit and to walk away from people and situations that constantly zap your happiness. Take it from me personally. I didn’t always function like this, and I’ll admit to lapses. Nobody is perfect after all!

But a positive mindset can make the difference between moping during a rainy day and kicking off your shoes and dancing in the rain, and so, is worth trying to create for yourself! 🙂


IMAGES: Pexels (1 and 2)

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