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Why Do We Get Addicted to Negative Feelings?

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Negative feelings like anger, fear and sadness are unpleasant emotions that most of us experience from time to time. While it is natural to feel negative emotions occasionally, some people find themselves repeatedly engaging in negative thought patterns that may eventually lead to addiction to these feelings.


Why Are Negative Feelings Addictive?


One of the reason why we may become addicted to negative feelings is that these emotions can be addictive. Studies have shown that negative emotions activate the same regions of brain as drugs and alcohol. It is suggested that the brain releases dopamine when we experience negative emotions, which can create a sense of relief or soothing that a person may crave. The release of dopamine during negative emotions may serve a protective function, helping individuals adapt and respond to challenging situations. However, excessive dopamine release during negative emotions may contribute to addiction to negative feelings.


When we think about stressful things, the brain sends signal to the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. If our thoughts cause the body to produce stress hormone on a daily basis, we are going to get addicted to cortisol. As a result, body will force the brain to think negatively so it can get its fix.

Another factor that may contribute to addiction to negative feelings is the cycle of rumination. When we experience negative emotions, we may engage in negative repetitive thinking, when we constantly replay negative events in our mind. Depressed thoughts suppress positive energy and action. This cycle of rumination can create a sense of familiarity, leading to a feeling of comfort in the negativity. When we have been negative for a long time, the brain automatically goes towards negativity.

In addition, individuals who have experienced trauma or adverse life events may also be more susceptible to addiction to negative feelings. Negative emotions can serve as a coping mechanism for these people, providing a sense of control in situations where they feel helpless or vulnerable.


How Do I Break My Addiction to Negative Thoughts?


Breaking the cycle of addiction to negative feelings can be challenging but is possible. The most important aspect is to be self-aware when negativity arises.


One strategy is to practice mindfulness, where individuals learn to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment. This can help to become more aware of their negative thought patterns and break the cycle of rumination.


Another approach is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), where people learn to identify and challenge negative thought patterns, develop and cultivating more positive outlook on life.


How To Become a Positive Person?

  • Recognise and stop negative self-talk. Become aware of your negative thought pattern and their impact on emotions and behaviour. Reflection and journalling can improve the awareness of negative thinking. Challenge your negative self-talk, often negative thoughts are connected to irrational beliefs. Practice positive self-talk, focus on your blessings, keep gratitude journal.


  • Express gratitude regularly. Gratitude is strongly connected to greater happiness. It allows us to feel more positive emotions, cherish good experiences, improve health, handle adverse experiences and establish healthy relationships. It helps us focusing on what we have, rather than what is missing.


  • Practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness can decrease depressed mood and improve emotional regulation by changing not a person’s thoughts and feelings but their attitude towards them.


  • Practice self-compassion. Being kind to yourself is as much important as being kind to others. Take care of yourself by engaging in self-care practices that enhance the holistic wellbeing. Practice positive self-talk by using positive affirmations (“I’m proud of myself”)


Why do we get addicted to negative feelings. Iremia Counselling


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