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Riding The Rollercoaster Of Negative Thinking – A Journey Through The Mind

Jamie Kirk is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Life Coach, and Mental Health Facilitator from Los Angeles, California. Growing up in the bustling city of Los Angeles during the 80s and 90s, drug addiction, gang violence, neglect, molestation, physical abuse, rape, and abandonment were all too common occurrences that shaped the lives of many individuals.

 
Executive Contributor Jamie Kirk

Roller coasters have long stood as icons of amusement parks worldwide, capturing the hearts of thrill-seekers. These towering structures of steel and wood promise adventure and excitement. The core appeal of roller coasters lies in their ability to manipulate physics to elicit emotional responses from riders. These rides trigger the body's fight-or-flight response, crafted to tap into the deepest parts of our psyche, providing a mixture of fear, excitement, and joy. Just like our negative thoughts!


Photo of Jamie Kirk sitting rock near ocean

Negative thinking can often feel like being strapped into a relentless rollercoaster—one that twists and turns through the darkest corners of our minds, creating feelings of fear, despair, and hopelessness. Unlike the thrill of a real rollercoaster that leaves you breathless yet exhilarated, the rollercoaster of negative thinking tends to leave an aftermath of emotional exhaustion and distress. However, understanding this mental journey is the first step towards reclaiming the control that seems lost in the chaos of our thoughts. Let’s take a journey through the mind.

 

The ascent: The build-up of negative thoughts


Our journey often begins at what might seem like a harmless starting point—an offhand negative thought or a minor setback. Much like the slow, suspenseful climb of a rollercoaster, negative thoughts start accumulating, each one building on the last. This phase can be dangerous, as our mind quietly gathers doubts and fears, stacking them until they form a towering, looming presence over our everyday lives. The climb might be triggered by a specific event, such as a mistake at work or a critical comment from a friend, or it might result from the buildup of smaller stresses and anxieties. As these thoughts gather momentum, the anticipation of the inevitable fall becomes a source of dread.


The peak: The apex of negative thinking


At the peak of the rollercoaster, there is a fleeting moment where everything stands still. In the realm of negative thinking, this is the moment when our fears and doubts reach their peak. It is at this point that the impact of negative thinking is most evident; the view from the top is often overwhelming, offering a panorama of worst-case scenarios and catastrophic outcomes.


The apex is also a moment of reflection, although a distorted one. It's where we feel most convinced by our negative thoughts, unable to see an alternative route or the possibility of going back to a calmer state.

 

The plunge: The overwhelming impact of negative thoughts


What follows the peak is often the most intense and terrifying part of the rollercoaster—the plunge. Negative thoughts rush in at quick speed, and the emotional response is both intense and immediate. Anxiety, sadness, or anger may surge, each adding to the velocity of the fall.

This is the stage where negative thinking affects us most deeply, influencing our actions, reactions, and decisions. The world may seem like a blur as these thoughts spiral out of control, leaving us feeling powerless and trapped in the ride.

 

Twists and turns: Battling with persistent negativity


Even as the initial drop subsides, the ride is far from over. Like any daunting rollercoaster, there are twists, turns, and loops yet to come. Each turn might represent a recurring doubt or a new worry, constantly challenging our ability to find emotional stability. These twists and turns can be disorienting, making it difficult to maintain a clear perspective or hold onto the rational thoughts that could bring the ride to a stop.


The slow return: Finding a way off the ride


Eventually, every rollercoaster ride comes to an end. The journey of negative thinking concludes not with a sudden stop but through a gradual slowing of momentum. This deceleration is often achieved through conscious effort—perhaps through therapy, mindfulness, self-care, or simply through the passage of time and the support of loved ones.


Recognizing the patterns of our negative thoughts and understanding their triggers can be like seeing the mechanics behind the rollercoaster—it reveals the experience and provides tools to prevent getting back on the ride. Techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can provide effective strategies for changing the tracks of our thoughts.

 

Conclusion: The ride we can choose to exit


The rollercoaster of negative thinking is a ride that many of us unwittingly find ourselves on, yet it's important to remember that we hold the power to step off. Understanding our thoughts, questioning their validity, and finding our truths, and seeking help when overwhelmed are all crucial steps towards a healthier mental state. Just as a rollercoaster is designed to excite and scare, negative thoughts can manipulate emotions with dramatic flair. But unlike a rollercoaster, we can choose to stop the ride, step back, and ground ourselves in reality.


The analogy of a rollercoaster effectively illustrates the intensity and involuntary nature of such thoughts but also underscores the control we can exert over them. By recognizing that these thoughts are often automatic and magnified responses, not necessarily reflections of reality, we can start to challenge and change them.


 

Jamie Kirk, Life Coach, Mental Health Facilitator & Licensed Psychotherapist

Jamie Kirk is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Life Coach, and Mental Health Facilitator from Los Angeles, California. Growing up in the bustling city of Los Angeles during the 80s and 90s, drug addiction, gang violence, neglect, molestation, physical abuse, rape, and abandonment were all too common occurrences that shaped the lives of many individuals. Jamie Kirk is passionate about raising awareness on the importance of mental health and advocating for better access to resources and support, especially within low-income communities. An advocate at heart, Jamie extends support through dynamic life coaching and workshops focused on overcoming depression, suicide prevention, and goal setting.


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