Monday, 6 September 2021

How to switch your perspective and be in control of negative thoughts

Do you often find yourself thinking negative thoughts? For example, does the thought that you might fail bother you? Do you worry a lot or think bad things are going to happen? If this is you and you want to learn how to control these negative thoughts, then keep reading.

Mental health is a part of life, be it positive or negative. It has become less taboo and more widely spoken about in recent years, before the old mentality could not comprehend mental hurt and saw pain as only physical. 

However, if you are physically hurt, then treatment can be straightforward. For example, if you got a paper cut, you would put cream on it and maybe a plaster, but mental wounds can be more challenging and complicated. 

Negative thought patterns can stem from various issues such as anxiety or depression and affect everyone differently.

The positive is that you can learn how to stop negative thoughts, so they stop clouding your mind. 

There are various ways to do this, from medication to lifestyle changes, psychotherapy or counselling.

Here are our top tips to get you started to try and help things feel less complicated and challenging. 

To help with this, there is a technique called the "Thoughts replacement technique", which enables you to deal more effectively with negative thoughts.

What do you need to do?

Firstly you need to acknowledge and be aware of the negative thoughts when they occupy your mind and immediately replace them with positive ones.

A few examples include:

  • When you think of failure, start thinking of success.
  • When you expect something terrible to happen, replace this thought with the thought that something good will happen.
  • When you feel sad, replace your thoughts with happiness by thinking of things you are grateful for. Gratitude is, after all, key for abundance.

However, this is not a quick fix. It takes practice and shouldn't be forced. 

There will be times when no matter how hard you try, your thought pattern will not change. 

It is OK to feel sad sometimes but don't let it become all-consuming. 

To begin with, there will be inner resistance, and you may find it difficult to sometimes forget. Still, if you persevere with it and continue to practice, it becomes a learnt behaviour and a natural way of thinking.

Enjoying this article and intrigued to read more like it? Check out:

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"Should" statements can contribute to anxious thought patterns because they put a demand on you that's sometimes impossible to live up to.

A few examples include: 

  • "I should really eat healthier"
  • "I should go to the gym every day"
  • "I should stop thinking this way".

This can trigger a guilt response and send you down the path of self-loathing. 

Using the should statements as a base, reword it to be kinder to yourself and don't leave yourself under too much pressure.

There is a form of cognitive distortion known as automatic negative thoughts (ANTs). 

ANTs are your first thought when you have a strong feeling or reaction to something, like a reflex. 

It can also cause your thoughts to become so overwhelming that they manifest into panic attacks. 

Recognising them can be demanding as you may have had them your whole life. However, it is not impossible and using a journal to manage your thoughts can help recognise what is causing them. Below is a list of things to write about :

A few examples include:

  • What situation is causing the anxiety? – Think about the 5 W's (who, what, when, where and why)
  • How did you feel – Were you nervous, angry or upset? On a scale of 1 – 100, how intense was this feeling?
  • What thoughts did you have? – Nobody likes me? I am stupid? I can't cope?

Breaking down the situation into "tasks" may help shift your mindset away from the prevailing mood controlling your thoughts and help you work out the triggers and how you can change them. 

You can also play out the worst-case scenario and see how you feel about it and make a log of it too.

As you dig into the details, you may find that it is indirectly linked to something else that makes you uncomfortable. By identifying this, you are slowly gaining control of your emotions and how you can help to stop them from being so overwhelming.

Written by Jessica Murray.


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