The Snowball Effect

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When we are thinking, our thoughts build upon other thoughts. So, if we are thinking about what to eat for dinner, we then start thinking about what we may have a taste for, then we think about if we feel like cooking or eating out, and then we think about what we want to drink. This one thought about eating dinner triggered many other thoughts, which then connected directly to our emotions. It’s a simple process really, but we are often too busy to realize what just happened…

Hence, the snowball effect. Picture snow on the ground. That wet, sticky snow that you can easily make snowballs out of. Then picture yourself on the top of a hill with a handmade snowball. Now, let that snowball roll down the hill. What happens to the snowball? Does its shape change? Does it roll fast or slow down the hill?

The snowball grows a little bigger with each turn, and as it rolls down the hill it doesn’t always follow a straight path. The added snow doesn’t stick to it in a perfect circle shape as your hands initally created, and it alternates between slower and faster speeds as it either reaches the bottom of the hill or gets stuck along the way. Can you see where I am going with this??

Now let’s take this same image of the snowball and apply it to our thoughts:

  1. You are standing at the top of the hill. Thinking about the something that came to mind. For this example, the thought isn’t positive or affirming.  
  2. You slowly start walking down the hill. You start connecting other thoughts together with the first thought that crossed your mind. 
  3. You pause for a second. You are bothered by one of your thoughts, even a bit stressed. 
  4. You decide to keep going, but move over to walk along another side of the hill. You are now thinking about your own thinking, deliberating over the stressing thought, and now starting to feel emotionally agitated. Even panicked. 
  5. Now you just want to get off this damn hill, so you start jogging down the hill. But your thoughts won’t stop, they seem to be coming faster now, and you can feel even more frustration and anger rise up as you reach the bottom of the hill. But now it seems to be too late, you are deep into the wilderness of pessimistic thought. Ugh. 

Can you visualize the snowball affect? Can you identify yourself in this example? Can you admit to the power that our thoughts can have over not just our mind, but our body and emotions? Most importantly, do you know how to avoid the snowball trap? 

Stop the negative thought in its track. Stop at step one, when you are at the top of the hill. 

Refuse to think of negative things, and be prepared to counterattack any negative thoughts that may pop up, with positive thoughts and actions.  

Believe it or not, we do have control over what we are thinking about. Yes, I know, you are thinking… but how do these thoughts even get into my mind to begin with??? Thoughts are often random (until we begin to work on some thought realignment) and we do not always have full control over what pops into our minds. However, we do have control over the thoughts we choose to entertain. This is what we have to begin to focus on. Focus on what you are thinking about.

SO, how we do just change thoughts?

  • Try changing your current behavior or action. Are you doing something unpleasant? Are you involved in something that may be causing negative thinking? 
  • Examine your environment. Where are you? Are you in a positive and healthy environment? 
  • Take a deeper look at your associations. Who are the people surrounding you? Are they bringing you up or down? Are you negatively affected by anyone’s presence? 
  • Investigate your sources of input. Are you watching too much TV? What type of music are you listening to; is the content bringing you down? What kind of words are exiting your mouth? 
  • Seek help. Sometimes we need some professional help to combat negative thinking. Do you have a mentor or trusted adult who may be able to help? Should you seek medical/counseling assistance? 

Remember, it takes a long time to develop the cycle of snowball affects. We do not learn how to dwell on negativity overnight. This in many ways, is a learned behavior, demonstrated from societal norms and people surrounding us who have taught us to worry and stress our way through life. But you don’t have to live your life according to the snowball affect. Positivity breeds positivity, and negativity breeds negativity.

Don’t even form the snowball….


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