Addiction is most frequently discussed and understood as an addiction to a physical substance.
Drugs, alcohol, gambling, and even food addictions are well-known; however, there are other types of addiction that can be just as difficult to combat. Emotional addictions are often overlooked and go unnoticed. One of the most debilitating forms of emotional addiction is addiction to negativity. Sometimes referred to as “negaholism,” addiction to negativity is a psychological addiction that can impact a person’s overall quality of life.
In many cases, negaholism is masked by the perception that a person is acting nobly and for a righteous reason. Their negativity may be propelled by a desire to challenge society and what is deemed socially acceptable. It is not confined to a specific scale – it can be driven by small obstacles or challenges in their personal life, or it could be driven by a larger, societal issue. When a person is not driven by a desire to change something but instead are driven by an addiction to negativity, they will not be satisfied once a solution is presented that resolves the issue at hand, but will simply find another problem to be upset about. People who are addicted to negativity are generally angry about something and rarely express happiness. They are almost never satisfied, maintaining the appearance of fighting for “a cause” that can help them continue the façade.
Types of Negative Thinking
Negative thinking can manifest in a number of ways. It can be internalized or projected, and it can occur on a large or small scale. Fixating on negative thoughts can be a de-motivator, affecting both the person’s ability to function normally and to have healthy relationships.
Some of the most common manifestations of negative thinking include:
- All-or-nothing thinking: This type of thinking is a form of perfectionism. A person who thinks in this way may believe that anything less than perfection is failure. They may not be motivated to even try something because it will not be good enough.
- Disqualifying positives: A person may choose to focus on all of the negatives and completely dismiss positive occurrences. They may believe life is one disappointment after another, when in reality, it contains its fair share of positivity.
- Negative self-labeling: This type of thinking involves a negative self-image. A person focuses on what they perceive to be failures or flaws associated with themselves and believes that if people knew their true identity, they would have nothing to do with them.
- Catastrophizing: A person who falls into this thought pattern believes that if anything were to happen, it will be the worst possible outcome. No matter what the facts may indicate, they always anticipate negative scenarios occurring.
- Dwelling on pain: A person may choose to focus on negative emotions and problems in order to try to feel better about them. They will focus on failures rather than successes and may beat themselves up over the outcome.
- Need for approval: Some people may feel the need for everyone’s approval, and if someone is upset, it is because of something they did. They may sacrifice their own needs and happiness in order to meet the perceived needs of others.
- Disqualifying present needs: Rather than allowing themselves time to relax, negaholics may feel compelled to accomplish projects at the expense of everything else. This can lead to hastily completing projects prematurely
- Mind reading: A person who is addicted to negativity often projects negative feelings onto others, whether or not they are accurate. For instance, they may falsely believe that a person doesn’t like them because they misinterpret that person’s behavior, having biased their interpretation with their own negative outlook.
- Should statements: This type of negative thinking involves projecting onto others what should happen due to outside influences. For instance, if you are nice to someone, they should be nice back. If a person does not act in the way that they “should”, it causes the negaholic to feel distressed.
- Pessimism: This is an overall negative outlook on life. A typical pessimist believes that if something good happens, something bad must naturally follow. Pessimists may state that they do not trust others who are happy because people are not meant to be happy.
Everyone feels negatively from time to time, but when negativity consumes your ability to live a positive or fulfilling life, it is important to take action. Accepting that you have an addiction to negative thinking is the first step in developing a more positive relationship with yourself and those around you. Some ways to address negative thinking include:
- Seek professional help: Beating negative thoughts on your own is nearly impossible. With the help of a mental health professional, you will be able to identify the factors that influence negative thoughts and actively work to correct them. A professional can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms for negative thoughts and actively work on ways to change behaviors that influence negativity.
- Separate yourself from other negative people: While you may not be able to cut off negativity completely, limiting your involvement with negative people and situations can reduce the amount of negative thoughts you experience. Surround yourself with more positive people and allow them to influence you. If you have friends or family that tend to attract drama, try to limit your time with them.
- Spend time alone: Being alone is a great way to reflect, remove outside negative influences, and focus on your own needs. Alone time allows you to identify what in yourself or your behaviors attracts negativity and helps you develop an awareness in how your behaviors and thoughts influence your overall experience.
- Spend time with people you admire: If it’s true that you attract what you put out, surround yourself with positive people. Find people who surround themselves with as little negativity as possible and connect with them. This may not be an easy process, as you must first work to reduce your own negativity, but working towards being more positive will attract more positive people to you.