Why does trauma lead to negative thinking?
From emotional patterns to personality adaptation, here are a few reasons why trauma leads to negative thinking.
Trauma can impact the way we think. Severe overthinking and chronic stress are caused by trauma. Traumatic past experiences and triggers can affect the way we perceive our surroundings. "Trauma initially impacts the brain, giving rise to negative thinking and persistent negative emotions. Over time, this can become a state of being and actually influence your personality. You do have the power to heal from your trauma and negative thinking patterns," wrote Psychologist Caroline Middelsdorf. The expert further noted down a few reasons why trauma leads to negative thinking:
Trauma and brain function: Trauma activates the Amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for emotions and feelings. When the Amygdala gets activated, it can release stress hormones such as Cortisol. This is when the brain feels hypervigilant and sees danger around its surroundings, accelerating negative thoughts and overthinking spirals.
Brain wiring and emotional patterns: When we think of negative thoughts repeatedly, it strengthens the neural pathways, making it a habitual pattern. Hence, the overall moods get affected by negative patterns and the stress hormones continue to be released.
The state of being: Repeated negative thinking can lead to a stable state of being and the way we perceive the world around us. Hence, this negative state of being further affects the mood and the lifestyle we choose to follow. This further leads to heightened self-criticism, guilt, shame and regret.
Personality adaptation: With a considerable period of time, this state of being can affect the personality we adapt to. Hence, we come up with coping mechanisms such as anxiety, chronic stress, defensiveness and avoidance.
One of the primary ways of getting out of this negative thinking spiral is growing more self-awareness. Knowing ourselves and delving deep into why such emotions happen to us can help us to find ways to combat such thoughts. "Journaling is a powerful tool to cognitive restructuring and trauma healing. I learned to gradually reframe my negative thinking patterns and helped me reshape my brain‘s responses to trauma," the expert further added.