Negative thinking can go a long way

Psychology is far from my primary interest in science, but I was fortunate enough to come by a story on negative thinking that I found highly interesting. There’s a lot of stuff out there that goes contrary to our intuition but ultimately makes logical sense.

Here’s how [John] Cloud explains the psychology of Hayes and like minds:

Hayes and other third wavers say trying to correct negative thoughts can, paradoxically, intensify them, in the same way that a dieter who keeps telling himself “I really don’t want the pizza” ends up obsessing about … pizza. Rather, Hayes and the roughly 12,000 students and professionals who have been trained in his formal psychotherapy, which is called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), say we should acknowledge that negative thoughts recur throughout life. Instead of challenging them, Hayes says, we should concentrate on identifying and committing to our values. Once we become willing to feel negative emotions, he argues, we will find it easier to figure out what life should be about and get on with it. That’s easier said than done, of course, but his point is that it’s hard to think about the big things when we’re trying so hard to regulate our thinking.

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