The Power of Negative Thinking

  • By Shawn Sommerkamp
  • 27 Apr, 2017

We have heard a good deal about positive thinking.  Its essence is found in Philippians 4:8-9 which tells us to think true, noble, honorable, admirable and pure thoughts. It is these thoughts that affect our attitude and determine our behavior.  What happens when we think negatively? Does anything counterproductive occur physically, mentally or emotionally?


Proverbs 12:25  "Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad."

 This verse begins with anxiety in the heart. Anxiety is certainly a very complex emotion. People with anxiety tend to wrestle with recurring and intrusive thoughts. It is worry, amplified and persistent. It is also very difficult to conceal. The eyes give away heavy thoughts, perhaps more than anything else. In the Old Testament it was referred to as a “downcast face.”

When feeling anxious at work, our co-workers can see it, including our leadership teams. It also affects our performance. Our willingness to go that extra mile fades. We lose excitement and we start seeing nothing but obstacles.  

Yes, when feeling anxious we are partly immobilized, weighed down. It makes us quite sensitive to feedback or criticism too. It’s hard to serve others when pressed with anxiety.    

So where does it come from?        

Let me first state that I do not intend whatsoever to make clinical assertions about anxiety disorders or chronic disorders. I only address here the forms of anxiety that come upon us all - such as the feelings of stress when behind on a project or uncertain about our future.  

To answer the question about where anxiety originates, let’s start with the end of the Proverbs 12:25 . It says “a good word makes the heart glad.” It seems to shift from the internal anxiety to the external good word - as if spoken from one peaceful person to someone with anxiety.  

Have you ever considered the “good word” may be something the anxious person chooses to tell himself?   Yes, it can be an internal good word too. It feels good to hear a word of encouragement from a friend, loved one or admitting boss. That’s easy to see.  

If we reverse-engineer the scripture, we might conclude that if a good word makes the heart glad, bad words make the heart sad (or in this case, anxious). Bad words make the heart heavy. And it doesn’t matter if those bad words come from an external source or from your own self-talk.

It makes us feel as if we are carrying extra weight. It hinders us from being nimble and quick with our choices. It keeps us from seeing God at work in each situation.  

When we think negatively, we give away our own power. The longer it persists, the more drained we become.

Shawn Sommerkamp is a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience.  He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to use their career to glorify God and support local church growth.

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It’s early January. 

The Holidays are over. 

It can feel like we go from the ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ to the most challenging time of the year. 

A more appropriate lyric, now that it is time to make resolutions & get back to work, could be one of the following… 

‘It’s The Most: 

  - Stressful
  - Sad
  - Crazy busy
  - Cash poor
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 …Time Of The Year.’`

It’s not that you are ‘Bah Humbug’…

You want to enjoy it, but it can feel more like “I just want to get through it.”

Although your MIND knows that God’s will for you (according to 1 Th 5:16-18) is to:

“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances…”  

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Give thanks, no matter what is happening in your life.  This is easy…right? 

A national polling firm named Penn, Schoen, & Berland conducted a survey, mid-2012, evaluating American attitude toward thankfulness. They conducted more than 2,000 interviews across the US general population. I’m only going to share a few pieces of the overall report:    

  • 90% of people said they would describe themselves as people who are generally grateful for their family and friends
  • However, only 52% of women and 44% of men express any thankfulness regularly
  • 60% say when they do express thankfulness, they do it to make themselves feel good

Where is the one place people are least likely to express gratitude? WORK 

  • 74% of the 2000 respondents never or rarely show gratitude at work (for anything)
  • 70% want their boss to be thankful for them (even though they don’t express thanks)
  • 81% would work harder if they were thanked by their boss or company 

Based on this survey, that hardest circumstance to give thanks exists in and around the workplace. Isn’t that amazing? The place we spend the most waking hours (about 2,200 hours per year, about 110,000 hours in working lifespan) we aren’t thankful for.  Wow! 

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