The third example of negative thinking that I’ve encountered as a therapist is “discounting the positive.” This occurs when people focus on the mistakes they’ve made or the bad things that have happened to them more than the good things that have occurred. For example, a person who has a trouble with completing a certain task will focus on being negative about their abilities (“I can’t do anything right), but when they do something well, such as win an award, they think that it is no big deal. By focusing on the negative and discounting the positive things, a person can become discouraged and not want to try to be the best they can be.
I had a client who had considerable experience in taking care of others. She had children and an aging parent she enjoyed caring for. She was very knowledgeable in first aid and other ways of caring for a person who cannot care for themselves. She had no formal training. She expressed to me one day that she had thought about going to school to be a nurse. She said that she was afraid to do this because she had not made good grades when she was in high school. Her high school years had been several years ago, but she still felt like she would fail if she applied herself to learn nursing. This client was not thinking about the positive qualities she had which would benefit her in the nursing field. I had the client discuss how she was good at helping others and that, since her high school days were more than a decade behind her, she should not measure herself based on how she did in the past on tests. I encouraged her to apply and see how she does. I also encouraged her to focus on the useful things she’s learned over the years from caring for others and implement these talents in her work as a nurse. I don’t know if the client applied for nursing school or not, but perhaps my advice helped her in some way.
People who are more prone to negative thinking tend to be overly involved with the small problems that we face here on Earth. God wants us to put our focus on our reward in Heaven, rather than thinking about the temporary issues we face here on Earth. Romans 12:2 says “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Focusing on positive aspects of ourselves rather than only the negative parts of ourselves will help us have more motivation to serve God. May we always strive to become better Christians by loving ourselves and one another. Negative thinking is the Devil’s way of causing our focus to be on something other than serving God. “ Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44).