Negative thinking gets the better of most of us in our daily lives. For a large number of us negative thinking can control our way of being. The thoughts we continually tell ourselves can even shape our actions, relationships and can lead to a few rather awful mental illnesses. The power of thought is truly remarkable and it can either make us or, break us. Understanding your thoughts and knowing what to do when they turn negative is an extremely valuable tool. Below are a few tips you can use that will hopefully enable you to understand your negative thinking patterns and know what to do when you can’t seem to shake the negative thoughts.
Why Am I Thinking Negatively?
Put simply. This is our body’s defence strategy. Your body will look for dangers and do whatever it can to protect you. When you’re literally about to jump from one slippery rock to another hearing “You’re Not Going To Be Able To Make It” is probably going to be helpful to keep you from injury. But, negative thinking doesn’t just happen when we are in direct danger. It happens when we are going to the supermarket to buy our groceries, when we are about to meet up with a friend for coffee, when we are looking in the mirror, when we are in a meeting at work and so on and so on.
Nanice Ellis sums our thinking up well:
Every conscious thought that you have is recorded by your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind does not question or argue with the validity of a thought. It literally takes your word for it. So, if you say, “I am tired or I am broke,” it just says, “Yes, you are tired – Yes, you are broke,” and your thoughts are accurately recorded”.
It is likely you are simply accepting your negative thoughts as truth. The good news? You can rewire your negative thinking.
What To Do When You Are Thinking Negatively.
1. Take a few moments to write down the negative thoughts that come into your mind and analyse them: For example, maybe you’re thinking you’re overweight. Don’t just take your word for it. Challenge yourself. Why is it you think you are overweight? Maybe it’s because you don’t look like your smaller friend or that celebrity on the latest magazine cover. Instead of thinking “I’m Overweight” replace the thought with “I love my body size”, “I am beautiful just the way I am”. Writing this down, visualising it and telling yourself will help you to turn the negative thought on its head.
It takes time to start to believe your negative thoughts but repetition is key.
2. Write down your most negative life outcome and your most positive: Create a list of your worst case scenarios. For example, maybe you are worried about not passing your degree or, going bankrupt, or being alone forever? What would your worst possible life look like for you? Create a list of about 5 – 10 bullet points of negative outcomes and then do the same for the positive.
Positive examples could be: you have travelled the world, you have enough money to live comfortably, you have the job of your dreams, you have an action packed life full of variety. Take a moment to look at your negative life and compare it to your positive one. How do you feel when you look at the contrast? Would you rather spend your time and energy focusing on your positive life? I think I know the answer. So get out there and DO IT!
3. Practise mindfulness & gratitude
There is nothing more powerful than turning a negative thought into a positive one. You can really exceed your limits and expectations when you have a positive and healthy mindset. For example, maybe you are having a negative thought about going to work the next day or, worried about your appearance. Instead of focusing on this negative thought and dwelling on it, practise tuning into your current moment and accept the thought for what it is… just a thought.
- Focus on where you are at the present moment, how does your body feel? What do you smell? What do you hear? Taking the time to be present will make you realise how lost in thought you were.
- If you can’t think about what it is you are grateful for in the moment then it’s okay to be simple. Maybe, you are grateful for the wind caressing your face? Or, the smell of the flowers close by. Or, the sun for giving your light. Focus on anything small or big but make sure it is positive.
If you practise this kind of thinking over and over eventually it will just became a way of life for you. You will begin to feel as though anything is possible and not be shunned by other people’s negative thinking and actions. As long as you have a firm positive view of yourself, you can’t be moved by anyone and their negative views.
I hope this post has given you a few helpful tips on understanding your thinking process and how to turn it into a valuable and positive one. Let me know if you have any tips you would like to share and if you are struggling with your thinking patterns. I am always here to help.