4 Tips to Eliminate Negative Thinking for Good
Let's just admit it, 2020 wasn't the best year we've had...
Negative thoughts arise from every direction and we're the ones that have to deal with them and ultimately somehow move forward in our lives.
While negative thinking can seem minor, it can play a big role in our behavior and how we live our lives. Be mindful of thoughts and with some help, overcome them to improve your quality of life.
Here are 4 tips that can help you break out of negative thinking for good! Keep reading to learn more.
#1: Recognize Thoughts once they start and separate from them
We can classify negative thought patterns as unhelpful thoughts that become repetitive. These patterns are directly linked to unpleasant side effects like feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, low self-worth, and so on.
Once you are able to realize the pattern is starting, you can identify it as a negative thought pattern. Then, step back from the negative thoughts.
When you step back, you will identify that the negative pattern is simply a thought, and it is not reality. As humans, we are tied to our thoughts so closely that we often convince ourselves that they are true. Once you start to believe that your thoughts are real, you will bring them to life. However, if you realize they are simply thoughts and not affecting your reality, you will be able to disconnect from them.
A great example is looking outside and seeing clouds and rain and thinking “Today is a depressing day”. In reality,this is not true – just because there is rain doesn’t mean that it is a depressing day, it is simply raining. You can still have a lovely productive day, regardless of the weather.
But, if you start to believe your thought that “today is a depressing day”, you have convinced yourself that it is true, and most likely you will have a bad day! Instead, register that you had that thought, and simply allow it to come and go without affecting how you truly feel about the day. You will become less entangled in every thought that appears, and will decrease the grip that negative thoughts can have on you.
Being able to recognize negative thoughts and let them come and go without changing your day is incredibly liberating and can change your mood for the whole day.
Many individuals are left feeling helpless or trapped with their negative thoughts because most usually go through the same thoughts over and over again.
Another tool is to mentally label your negative thoughts as they appear. For example, do you often have negative thoughts where you doubt yourself? You can label them as “self-doubt”. When you realize that you are having these negative thoughts, you can realize that it is the same one reoccurring again – “My negative self-doubt thoughts are back again!”, and then let them go. In order to let them go, do not deny that it isn’t happening. Simply accept that the thoughts have appeared, but that they are nothing more than thoughts. It is not reality, and there is no need for you to give it any further energy or time – simply let the thoughts come and go.
Step 2: Come back to Reality
Once you have recognized and labelled your negative thoughts, the next step is to get out of your head and come back to the present moment. You must redirect your attention by shifting your focus to something else. There is a simple method to this, which is to become mindful of the present. Increase your awareness to your surroundings by focusing on where you are. Focus on the sights you can see, the sounds you hear, or the smells. Immerse yourself in your senses in the present moment to get out of your head.
This step is important because once negative thinking begins, it can completely take over our minds and we become disconnected with what is currently happening around us. Many simple pleasures of daily life are missed and ignored. If you are completely in your head, you are not being mindful and living in the moment. That’s why this step is important – it is difficult for the mind to continue focusing on negative thoughts once you direct your attention to your senses.
Step 3: Have Questions to Ask Yourself
Some negative thoughts can be quite strong, and simply following Steps 1 and 2 isn’t helpful. A third method is to “question” negative thought patterns. This means that once your negative thought patterns appear, you ask questions to mentally question the negative thought pattern, and to shift your focus away.
Some examples of questions are:
- Are these thoughts helping me take action to change things?
- Are these thoughts helpful to me in any way, or is my mind rambling?
- Is there a way to make the best of this situation?
- Who would I be without this negative thought?
- What am I grateful for in this moment?
- Is there a different way to see this situation or thought?
- What am I really trying to feel by thinking these thoughts?
These questions are powerful and can help change your focus, especially if you focus on positivity and gratefulness. These questions will also encourage you to start having constructive thoughts and actions to help you work towards resolving the negative thought pattern.
Step 4: Daily Mindfulness Habits
We often discuss the benefits of daily mindfulness and how it can help us overcome many hardships or issues in our lives.
Being mindful is the practice of living in the moment, so it is a perfect concept to use to counteract negative thought patterns.
In today’s modern world it is easy for us to lose focus and end up wandering our minds, building negative thoughts through overthinking and “what-ifs”. Daily mindfulness meditation has been proven to increase physical wellness, decrease stress and therefore alleviate depression and anxiety. Mindfulness helps us stay fully present in the moment, and not worry about the future and the past, where negative thoughts often originate from.
By practicing mindfulness meditation, you will eventually grow your awareness and spend more time in the present than caught up in the mind. An excellent way to stay mindful on a daily basis is to have an item that you enjoy near you as a reminder.
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We all have negative thoughts, and it is impossible to think they can be completely irradiated. While we cannot control that, we can however control how we deal with these thoughts and how much we allow them to affect us. By slowly removing negative thought patterns and practicing more mindfulness, old habits are can worn away and new positive mindsets can be created.
Let us know what you think by sharing your thoughts in the comments!