How Positive Thinking Can Eliminate Mental Pollution
It’s very trendy and topical these days to be concerned about environmental pollution. Everywhere we turn, people in authority are taking steps to lessen the impact of our activities on the environment. Everything from cars to factories to aeroplanes has to account for its carbon emissions, with all eyes focused on minimising our carbon footprint. None of which is, of course, a bad thing. In fact, it’s necessary for the very survival of our planet. But what about the survival of the people on our planet? With so many us stretched to the max every day – physically and mentally – we are in danger of becoming overstressed. And overstressed people can easily become depressed, succumbing to negative thoughts and finding maladaptive ways to cope with their stress. We call this mental pollution, and it’s every bit as harmful to our bodies and minds as environmental pollution is to our planet.
What Is Mental Pollution?
Mental pollution is the result of excessive negative emotions or stresses. Just like air and water pollution, mental pollution turns what was once beautiful and pure into something toxic.
The damage negative thinking does to our mental and physical wellbeing is documented, proven and very real. The thalamus is the part of our brain responsible for sending sensory and motor signals to the rest of our body. It doesn’t understand the difference, however, between negative thoughts and real danger. As a result, when you wallow in negative thinking, stress and excessive worry, the thalamus assumes that it needs to get our body ready for flight. We, therefore, start experiencing real stress symptoms, such as a rapid increase in our heart rate and blood pressure.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology looked at the effects that excessive worrying has on our ability to perform tasks. Subjects were asked to sort things into two categories. Those who reported, prior to participating in the study, that they worry at least 50 percent of the time, displayed a decreasing ability to sort objects as the difficulty of the sorting tasks increased. A follow-up study showed that this difficulty was a direct result of their heightened levels of negative thoughts. They concluded that, when our brains are faced with complex tasks, negative thinking hurts our ability to process information and think clearly. In other words, always focusing on the negative aspects of problems actually makes it harder for you to find a helpful solution.
How Can I Stop Thinking So Negatively?
The first step towards ridding our bodies of all the mental pollution is to understand the damage that negative thinking does to our physical and mental health. Recognising that this damage is completely self-inflicted is a huge step forward, and the first step towards learning how to re-frame our world so that we focus mainly on the positive. Meditation, yoga and positive realisation are all healthy outlets for negativity – which is, after all, a very real human emotion. If we ignore or fail to release our negative thoughts, we face the very real risk of developing physical and psychological problems.
If you’d like some help or advice on how you can take control of your life and choose the positive, chat to Dr Alain Sanua.