If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I talk about negative thoughts a lot. And there are basically 2 reasons for that: 1) repetitive, obsessive negative thinking can be one of the most crippling symptoms of depression and 2) our lives are shaped by the way we talk to ourselves.
If our thoughts are full of self-doubt and self-deprecation, we’re not going to feel empowered to make changes in our lives. We’re going to feel stuck, frustrated, and unhappy, which can lead to more negative thoughts about ourselves and our situation.
So how can we stop this vicious cycle of negativity? And once we do, how can we adopt a more positive outlook to help us meet our goals? Read on to discover my 3 steps to taking control of your negative thoughts - and my tool for implementing this into your life for the long haul.
Step 1: Notice the stories you’re telling yourself
Sounds easy right? Not always!
Negative thoughts can often lurk in the background without you even being aware of them. This is especially true for long-held beliefs because your mind is used to them being there - and may have trouble letting them go.
If you’re having trouble tuning into your thoughts, start with your feelings. If you start feeling anxious, sad, nervous, or guilty all of a sudden, you’re probably having a negative thought that you’re unaware of. Sit with the feeling (or better yet, journal it out) and see what negative beliefs or thoughts come up for you - no censoring!
Step 2: Clear your mind
Once you notice you’re having a negative thought and are able to identify it, you need to give your mind some space.
Do not skip this step!
So often, people want to go straight to the sexy part of modifying the negative thought, but it’s important to give your mind some space first. Why? Because you need to create room for alternative thoughts. When you’re stuck in a negative thought cycle, there is little room for interpretation or other viewpoints. By taking some time to clear your head, you allow yourself to operate from a relaxed mind that is much more open to possibilities than a stressed-out mind.
Some ideas of mind-clearing techniques include:
Step 3: Modify the thought to be more positive (and true!)
Reframing your thoughts is not just taking negative thoughts and flipping them positive.
Keep in mind that your head has been running on negative thoughts for a long time, and may initially be resistant to any changes that seem “unrealistic.”
Instead, in order to modify a negative thought, you must first debunk it. Once you’ve discovered the truth - or lack thereof - behind the thought, you can modify it to be more helpful and positive. Here are the best ways to get started:
Of course, this blog post is just an introduction to the topic of addressing negative thoughts. Overcoming negative thoughts for the long-haul is truly a daily practice and takes time - but the results are so so worth it!
If you’re looking to jumpstart your positive thinking practice, check out my 21-Day Negative Thought Detox! Get 21 value-packed days of lessons and action steps - delivered straight to your inbox every single day! Click here for more info!