The average person has up to 11 negative thoughts a day – including “I’m not good enough,” “I’m overweight,” and “I’m not good looking.”
A poll of 2,000 adults found these thoughts will hinder their progress towards achieving their goals, with 37 percent feeling like they are their own worst enemy.
While 34 percent feel they are letting themselves down, however, 32 percent worry more about disappointing others.
Another 34 percent feel their own thoughts have stopped them from achieving certain aims, including finding new work (40%), expressing their true feelings (38%), and achieving their health goals (35%).
However, maintaining a busy lifestyle, practicing mindfulness, and repeating positive affirmations rank as the top ways people stay on track with their goals and combat negative thoughts.
“Negative or intrusive thoughts, otherwise known as thought distortions, will be experienced by most of the population at some point in their lives. The good news, however, is that it is possible to combat them,” says Andreas Michaelides, Ph.D., chief of psychology at Noom, the psychology-backed behavior change program which commissioned the research, in a statement.
Why is negativity so bad for your health?
A 2021 study found the longer negative emotions linger in the human brain, the worse it is for your mental health.
“One way to think about it is the longer your brain holds on to a negative event, or stimuli, the unhappier you report being,” says the University of Miami ‘s Nikki Puccetti in a media release. “Basically, we found that the persistence of a person’s brain in holding on to a negative stimulus is what predicts more negative and less positive daily emotional experiences. That in turn predicts how well they think they’re doing in their life.”
Negative thoughts can become reality
Recently, scientists at Shinshu University found that when people hold negative beliefs about themselves, these thoughts tend to self-perpetuate and influence future self-perceptions. In other words, negative thoughts about oneself can develop into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Moreover, researchers say people who already see themselves in a negative light are more likely to remember and incorporate negative feedback because it aligns with their pre-established self-perception.