Are You a Negative Nellie? 4 Habits that Can Worsen Your Paruresis

sad clownDo you wake up smiling as brightly as the sun or cursing its glare in your eyes? If you’re one of the cursers, there’s a good chance your day typically goes downhill from there. A penchant for negative thinking at any time throughout your day can heighten your anxiety, fears and symptoms related to your bashful bladder.

Even if you don’t go all-out and swear at the sun, you may be engaging in frequent episodes of negative thinking without even realizing it. Here are a few of the more common habits that feed into the Negative Nellie syndrome:

Negative predictions: This phenomenon occurs when you expect the worst outcome out of a situation. An example related to your paruresis might happen every time you head for a public restroom. Rather than heading that way with no expectations, or perhaps even positive expectations, you head there with a head full of negativity.

Not only will the bathroom be packed with other people, which you may think from the start makes it impossible to do your business, you may add other negative elements in your head. The sinks will be clogged, the floor will be filthy and none of the toilets will flush. You top off your negative prediction by imagining you will then, of course, fall down in a heap and weep.

Catastrophizing: This habit is similar to negative thinking, but it takes the negativity one step further by viewing every negative event not as a daily or conquerable happening but rather as a full-fledged catastrophe.

The sink is clogged! The world is ending!

Negative filtering and recall: These two habits are also strikingly similar. The former involves filtering out all positive aspects of a situation so you only see the negative. The latter does the same to your memories. Perhaps you tripped on the way to the bathroom, but the hottest coworker in the place caught you before you fell.

Instead of focusing on or remembering that you were briefly in the arms of a gorgeous coworker, you instead wind your mind around the act of tripping. You can even really go to town by subjecting the slight misstep to a catastrophe.

I tripped on the rug! The world is ending!

Polarized thinking: Polarized thinking dovetails nicely into negative ways of thinking, as it involves thinking of something as all-or-nothing. That means something can be black or white, good or bad, positive or negative – with no room for variation in between. If you’re already grabbing onto negativity every chance you get, you can probably bet that things in your book are more bad than good and more negative than positive.

You can also bet the world, in reality, is not always firmly black or white but is much more prone to being washed in a million shades of grey.

Next up: Tips for evicting Negative Nellie to help your paruresis


Photo Credit: Mel B.