Negative thoughts lead to problems such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. A negative attitude impacts every aspect of your life, including your family and career.
The best way to control the spiraling effects of negative thoughts is to understand your way of thinking and how it impacts your emotions.
How to Keep Negative Thoughts in Check
The following are some ways in which you can control negative thoughts.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
It is the act of separating yourself from your ideas and emotions and observing them objectively. Mindfulness can make you more aware of your thoughts and develop more self-awareness.
Consider your thoughts as floating objects that you can stop to view or continue with life’s journey.
2. Identify Your Negative Thinking Pattern
As you struggle to keep your thoughts in check, it’s essential to identify how you view yourself.
Examples of thinking patterns you should work on eliminating include;
Labeling – When you label yourself in a specific manner, it affects how you feel. For instance, if you keep telling yourself, “I’m a horrible driver,” you will always have negative feelings whenever you drive.
Overgeneralization – This pattern is characterized by a predisposition to extrapolate the happenings of one encounter to all subsequent ones. As a result, a negative outcome seems unavoidable, which is not always the case.
Jumping to conclusions – Making assumptions about what people are thinking or having pessimistic expectations on how things will turn out are examples of this misperception.
Catastrophizing – This negative thinking pattern is defined as expecting the worst-case scenario to occur without thinking about more practical alternatives.
3. Replace the Negative Thoughts
You don’t overcome negative thoughts; you replace them through cognitive restructuring.
In this step-by-step process, notice when the pattern starts, acknowledge that you want to change it, and articulate how different you want it to be. Finally, choose other behavior.
Although it may be challenging at first to think in this new way, positive and rational thoughts will become more natural with time and practice.
4. Avoid Thought Stopping
It’s the act of constantly scanning for negative ideas and demanding that they be banished. The issue with thought-stopping is that the more you try to suppress the views, the more they surface.
Some psychologists recommend a more direct approach, as thought-stopping might only be a short-term solution.
5. Write Down The Negative Thoughts
Make a list of the reasons why you have a terrible thought. Writing rather than thinking helps you clear your mind. Use a thought diary to identify your negative way of thinking and the reactions sparked by them.
A thought diary post, for example, can break down your thought process while on a date and the reactions that follow from negative thinking patterns. You can replace irrational beliefs about rejection with more valuable and constructive ways of thinking at the end of the analysis.
6. Practice Coping Mechanisms
Sometimes, as people become judgmental, it is essential to learn to cope with criticism. This method is known as a solid defense of the self.
For example, If you are confronted with criticism, you have a set of aggressive responses prepared that will assist you in dealing with these potentially stressful circumstances.
To resist your instinctive negative thinking, increase your tolerance for the anguish that criticism and rejection might cause.
7. Consciously Find Better-feeling Thoughts
Rather than fighting negative thoughts, choose to think about things that make you feel good. Speaking out loudly is one effective way to accomplish this.
Another trick is to refocus your thoughts on your exciting project for five minutes every time you focus on the negative.
8. Set up a Success Routine
When you wake up, take some time to focus on who you want to be in the future. While on it, set meaningful goals that will act as signposts on the road to achieving your dreams.
When you keep working towards achieving your goals, negative thoughts will have no place.
9. Ask Yourself Pertinent Questions
Ask yourself tough questions like; How do I benefit from embracing negative thoughts? What are the cost implications of my thoughts?
Negativity will slowly fade into oblivion
when you reflect on answers to such questions.
Causes of Negative Thoughts
There are three main reasons why negative thoughts come to mind;
1. Regret about the past – Everyone does something that they later regret every once in a while. Negative thinkers dwell on the past longer than usual. Accepting that a mistake occurred and considering how to prevent the same from recurring in the future is a more constructive approach to errors.
2. Anxiety about the present – Many people are concerned about what others think of them. You worry about your performance at work or how bad the traffic will be on your way home.
Negative thinkers frequently imagine the worst-case scenario: no one loves us at work, our boss is ready to tell us we’ve done a lousy job, and traffic will cause us to be late picking up the kids.
3. Fear of the unknown future – People are often afraid of new things and apprehensive of what the future holds. This frequently leads to “catastrophizing,” or forecasting failure and tragedy, all the time.
Exercise to Stop Negative Thoughts
The following exercise will help you to get rid of negative thoughts
Get a piece of paper or launch a writing software on your phone or PC.
List and explain all the negative thoughts in your mind.
Write down a positive thought for every negative one on a separate column or list. For example, If you dislike your partner’s behavior, write one thing you like about them.
Make it a habit to counter negative thoughts with positive ones.
Every time you have a persistent negative idea, work on interrupting it and replacing it with a more constructive thought.
How to Stop Negative Thoughts from Taking Over Your Future
The following points highlight how to stop thinking pessimistic about the future;
1. Condition Your Mind Through Your Body
Your psychological state follows what your body does. As you get tense, your breathing becomes shallow.
Breathing techniques are the simplest way to accomplish this. For 5 seconds, breathe in heavily and hold it for 5 seconds. After that, exhale for 5 seconds. Hold it for a total of 5 seconds.
2. Keep off Negative Thoughts
Check your negative thoughts as though you were observing your unpleasant scenario from the outside. This will give you a new viewpoint, but it will also provide you with enough space to bring your ideas to fruition.
3. Check what You Feed Your Brain
What you think about tomorrow is influenced by the people you hang out with, the social media feeds you follow, the publications you read, and the shows you watch.
Avoid irrelevant information, people, or activities that attract negative thoughts.
Accepting that there is a limit to what you can alter in the future and instead focusing on the present is the key to letting go of these negative beliefs.
By increasing your exposure to positive situations and then nurturing appreciation to promote happiness in your life, you launch the virtuous cycle that keeps negative thoughts at bay.
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