Updated: Nov 14, 2021
Most of us spend a lot of time inside our own mind — worrying about the future, replaying events in the past, and generally focusing on the parts of life that leave us dissatisfied. While common, negative or unwanted thoughts can prevent you from enjoying experiences, distract you from focusing on what's important, and drain your energy. They can also make you feel anxious and depressed.
Negativity can spontaneously manifest and it often does in a disturbing way. Negativity can have a life of if own within our psyche and we often feel helpless to do anything about it. The quest is what can you do to effectively manage the negative aspects of your mind?
These thoughts are not “socially acceptable” so few people want to admit what’s really going on in their heads. Nevertheless, your average person’s mind can be a streaming cauldron of mischief. I know this from myself. I l like to think of myself of well-adjusted and quite normal, but I have a much darker version of myself if I look deep enough.
However, this is normal, normal, normal. I have never met anyone from the average Jo on the street, to the most distinguished professional who does not at some time struggle on a deeper level with this stuff.
I have struggled most of my life with thoughts that other people sit in judgement of me, so my outer self always had to be “perfect” whether that was in a work situation, in relationships, how I looked, how I tried to learn something new. It has followed me around in every area of my life and manifested itself in procrastination, fear of rejection, fear of failure and many other undesirables! It wasn’t until I read a book called “ What you Think of Me is None of MY business by Terry Cole Whittaker, did I free myself from this debilitating negative thinking.
Thoughts are only Thoughts and That is All They will ever be.
But isn’t it interesting that we often give the negative stuff all the weight and dismiss the positive?
Anyway, thoughts are just thoughts. They are neither good nor bad. They only have the significance that you give them. So, what can we do we do when negative thoughts creep in ?
1. Identify Negative thinking
Our minds have smart as well as persistent methods of persuading us of something that isn't true. These untruths strengthen negative thinking. If you can identify them, you can challenge them. Here are some typical thought distortions: Credit goes to David D. Burns, author of "Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy" (Harper Collins, 1999), for coining common names for these distortions.
· Filtering: You dwell completely upon a dust speck you notice on a Van Gogh painting.
· Polarized thinking: If you're not perfect, you're a failure. People are either wonderful or awful.
· Overgeneralization: You fell off the horse on your first try, therefore you will fall every time you get on a saddle.
· Jumping to Conclusions: Your friend hasn't called for a while, therefore she hates you.
· Catastrophizing: Disaster is inevitable. You're obsessed with "What if? What if? What if?"
· Personalization: Everything that happens is about you. Your best friend started playing tennis because he knows you don't like the game.
· Control Fallacies: You feel like a helpless victim of external forces. Or, you feel personally responsible for everyone's happiness.
· Fallacy of Fairness: You are the only one who knows what is fair, and you're sure that you are being treated unfairly.
· Blaming: You blame others for your pain. Or, you blame yourself for everything.
· Shoulds: There are rules that must be obeyed by everyone. If you violate the rules, you feel guilty. If others break the rules, you feel angry.
· Emotional Reasoning: My emotions define the truth. I feel ugly, therefore I am ugly.
· Fallacy of Change: You think you can change people to make yourself happy.
· Global Labelling: An extreme form of generalizing with exaggerated and emotionally loaded labels for yourself and others. You fail a quiz and call yourself a "lifetime loser."
· Always Being Right: Being wrong is not an option. You will do whatever it takes to win an argument.
· Heaven's Reward Fallacy: If you work hard and sacrifice, you will always be rewarded. If that reward doesn't come when you want it, you become angry and bitter.
2. Challenge negative ideas.
Whenever you have a negative thought, stop, as well as evaluate whether it is accurate. Think of how you would respond if a good friend spoke about herself that way. You would probably supply an excellent rebuttal to his/her negative view. Apply the very same reasoning to your very own thoughts. Ask yourself if you are presuming the worst will occur or criticizing yourself for something that has not gone the way you desired. And after that, consider other possible outcomes or reasons that something turned out, in a different way than you hoped.
3. Relax from negative thoughts.
It is normal to have negative thoughts, but don’t linger on them. Decide you are not going to give them head space. One way to do this is to permit yourself a particular amount of time (perhaps 5 minutes) with the thought. Then relax from focusing on it as well as going on with your day.
4. Release judgment.
All of us judge ourselves and others in a rush of thought. However, frequently comparing ourselves to other people or comparing our lives to some someone who appears to have more than we have is destructive. Social media just fuels our thoughts when we see everyone else living the perfect life. What we have to remember is, people only show us a snapshot of their ‘best’ life on social media and the rest of the time their lives are just as chaotic as ours. When you can release judgment (challenging, but possible), you will feel more at peace. Some ways to pause from judgmental thoughts include acknowledge your own response, observe it, and then let it go. I observe it and then say “NEXT” and see it in my minds eye floating off behind me. ( It works for me) One more helpful strategy is to "judge positive”. When you notice you are adversely judging an individual, yourself, or a circumstance, seek a positive thought, as well. For every negative counterbalance it with a positive.
5. Practice gratefulness.
Research study shows that really feeling happy has a big influence on your levels of positivity and joy. Even when you are experiencing a difficult time in your life, you can normally discover things (even small things) to be thankful for. Observing things that are going well and making you feel happy will keep you in touch with them. Maintaining a gratefulness journal and creating a few things in it every day is one easy and efficient method to do this
6. Focus on your Strengths.
It's human nature to dwell on the negative and also ignore the positives, but the more you can practice focusing on your strengths and not dwell on weaknesses, the easier it will be to feel positive about yourself and the path of life you have found yourself on. If you find yourself thinking extreme negative thoughts about yourself or your life, take a minute to stop and think of something you like about yourself. I know this can be difficult when we are in that dark place, but it just takes one small positive thought.
7. Choose specialist support if you are not able to handle your thoughts or discover they are disrupting your ability to meet your day-to-day duties or enjoy life. Therapy as well as treatment can minimize psychological suffering as well as experience self-growth.