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How to Fight Negative Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions

Updated on January 23, 2018
donotfear profile image

Annette Sharp holds a BAAS in Behavioral Science from Texas A&M. She is a counselor and motivator with an empathetic heart.

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Negative Thoughts: Intrusive or Not?

I was sitting here processing the fact that I struggle incredulously with the task of ‘fighting the feeling’ when a major emotional event takes place. I usually go on my merry way, but have a constant battle making the thoughts go away. I can be doing great and then, WHAM, the reminder hits with a vengeance and attacks from within to reach out and grab that feeling/emotion (usually negative or hurtful) back again. It’s almost like glue sticking in my brain reminding me of the action. I guess it’s part of OCD (obsessive/compulsive thinking) without the compulsions. Good grief, is this too deep? Does it go back to the “inner child” who was forgotten?

I don’t want to go back there. I want to go forward. Do you want to move forward?

The Thought Pyramid

According to Peter McWilliams in the book You Can’t Afford The Luxury Of A Negative Thought, we each possess a thought pyramid consisting of three major things: THOUGHT, FEELING, ACTION. This gets complicated and difficult to understand but there’s truth in the theory. The three must work together to produce a positive outcome. If one is missing, then the outcome is either 1) negative 2) not at all or 3) dysfunctional. So what the heck does that mean? Here’s a simple way of putting it. You feel like you want to ride your bike. You're thinking about going out to ride your bike for a brisk run. Yet, you do nothing. No action follows the thought and feeling. So you don't ride your bike, you don't get the benefit of the exercise, and you don’t benefit from the activity. That’s a negative consequence.

So what if you have a strong feeling about something that you really want and desire because it’s so wonderful and full of warm fuzzies? What if you impulsively jump into action without the third element, thought? Without any regulated thoughts to guide you, you could end up in a heap of trouble. Here’s a good example. You're feeling down and depressed, having a ‘pity party’ and begin to want something to elevate you mood to self medicate. So your feelings and emotions tell you to get a bottle of wine to give you that warm fuzzy feeling that will make it all go away.

The thought process isn’t engaged because the desire and need for that ‘quick fix’ is so strong. You then jump into action , drive to the liquor store, purchase a bottle of wine and drink the whole thing, thus blowing 12 years sobriety. There’s the negative result. Your thought-action-feeling pyramid was broken so you paid the consequence. Rats.

Thoughts, Feelings, and Emotions

So what’s this got to do with obsessive thoughts that keep coming back to haunt you? Hurtful thoughts of feeling lost, being sad and experiencing anger? They are only thoughts , that’s all. Without the other elements, they’re useless. What you do with them is up to you. Here’s the reality: the thoughts, feelings, and emotions keep coming back to torment you. They are present. You tell them to go away, ask God to remove them, and they leave for a while, but then come back to haunt you. You have a choice about what to do with the thoughts. You can either linger in the feeling, continue in the thought, and do nothing (no action) about making yourself feel better except think about how much you feel hurt, sad and angry…you know the deal. OR, you can get in action and try to do something about the recurring thoughts and feelings to turn them into a positive. Get it? You don’t deny the feelings and thoughts. They are real. So here’s your plan for a positive outcome to balance the Thought-Feeling-Action pyramid:

Source

A 'Negative Thoughts' Safety Plan.

Your thoughts : Negative. Why do you always set yourself up for hurt? What’s wrong with you that others don’t want to share with you? Why do you get rejected? What did you do wrong to disappoint others? You want others to pay for what they have done to you. You want others to hurt for hurting you!. You are a victim because others hurt you.

Your feelings : Sad, angry, rejected & hurt. You want others to care about you the way you care for them. You want to feel loved. You want to feel cherished. You want undivided attention & acknowledgement. You want the warm fuzzies back to make you feel good again.

You plan of action : (EXAMPLE) Write, express, share, acknowledge your feelings/emotions, give to others. You're going to write an article about what you're thinking & feeling so it will help others who may be experiencing the same thing. You're going to express how it really makes you feel so you can feel better about yourself. You're going to share this with thousands of other individuals to create a learning experience for them. You're going to acknowledge and not deny that you're experiencing these thoughts and feelings at this time in your life, but you're going to turn them into a positive by ‘being with it’. You refuse to allow the thought/feelings to own you! You're going to continue to help other people through sharing with others and by seeking a positive experience.

How About a Plan of Action!

Here’s your thought for the day: Fighting the feeling; can’t fight the feeling, can’t fight the thought, but won’t quit trying!

“You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!” Jeremiah 6:14 (TLB)

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    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      5 years ago from Northeast Texas

      macteacher!

      Thank you...I'm glad my hub hit the spot. I need to read it again to help me.

    • macteacher profile image

      Wendy Golden 

      5 years ago from New York

      This is a terrific hub. I feel like you wrote it for me, or maybe I actually wrote it. LOL. You've touched on so many things. The negativity instilled in childhood is horribly hard to overcome, but it is doable. Prayer definitely helps and reaching out to a group or community whether religious or otherwise is very important. Thanks for a hub I needed to see today - I'm reminded that I'm not alone in the negative thinking.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      5 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Chris: Great job of overcoming!

    • profile image

      Chris 

      5 years ago

      I've had to deal with negative thoughts hard for the past two years! I never knew I was in such a dark place until I meet someone who actually got through to me. It wasn't until I started hurting them that I realized that I was hurting myself. I have found this article very useful in gaining my control over my thinking back. Thank You!

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      6 years ago from Northeast Texas

      mathira, you are right. I'm glad you recognize this.

    • mathira profile image

      mathira 

      6 years ago from chennai

      When we are negative, we can never hope to win and you brought out the true drawbacks of negative thinking.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      7 years ago from Northeast Texas

      smiler:

      What a courageous story of overcoming! I'm so glad to hear that you developed your own coping skills & learned a way around the negative thought process. It takes a very strong individual to do it on their own, especially when no one tells you how to do it! It sounds like you learned to detach from the hurtful part & use it as a learning tool to develop new skills. I'll just bet you aren't the only one who is proud of you. Congratulations!

    • profile image

      smiler 

      7 years ago

      But the drugs don't work

      Either does suppressing them

      Every morning I take time to sit, think write, talk to myself, to any one any thing, a pet or a teddy is a good listener. But most importantly I listen to those thoughts and try to understand them, myself. I get angry, I look old through tears and sometimes I just stop and become part of a helpless numb void. But still I listen, I take that time because I'm worth it.

      What childhood? What life? When you get the treatment I received, endured, it's hard.

      I was systematically abused emotionally by my family who I always loved, still do and who I have always wanted but they don't seem, even now in my 40's to want to know. I couldn't be emotionally attached to anyone, so guess what I needed them even more. I would wake up every day feeling terrible. thoughts plagued me throughout the day. I'd ignore them to my perril! Until through painfull thought, writing, etc I found that it was also me that moved away from them. I was different I could never belong with them. To be them I would have to change me.

      It's basic, a triangl needs the two bottom supports to be strong. 1 good thoughts of future, 2 no baggage to stop you from achieving your future.

      I can love my family, although from a distance.

      I'm glad I'm me, very proud to be me!!!! although I do say so myself ;))))))

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      7 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Anon: Wow, thank you so much. I'm glad my article has helped you. If possible, try to seek the help of a good trained counselor who can assist you with coping skills training. You're over the first hump, but now it's time to get in action and learn ohow to fight it! Good luck.

    • profile image

      Anon 

      7 years ago

      thankyou so much for this article, you expressed everything i feel too, except you managed to put it into words which helped me so much! im an obsessive thinker always have been, it's just now i've let this one particular scary thought ruin my life...with the help of your article i realise its time to make a change! thankyou!x

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      hear4theword: Yes, it's true. The acknowledgement is half the battle. Now we've gotta tackle those sad feelings/emotions. Heck, I'm fighting it now!!! With a frenzy. Thanks for the encouragement and reminder to practice what I preach!

    • heart4theword profile image

      heart4theword 

      8 years ago from hub

      Acknowledgement is 1/2 the battle. It is interesting how something will spring up, to tell us, yes I am still here! Now it took time for me to realize this, yet now I know, this is a tell-tell sign...it is time to face the problem.

      The problem that I burried has now, resurfaced. It is cool though, that when it seems to resurface, I am older and more able to deal with it, with God's help! Great Hub-Page:)

    • profile image

      Sarah H 

      8 years ago

      This is really good advice. I wish I would have followed it before. Glad I found it.

    • healthgoji profile image

      healthgoji 

      8 years ago

      Great information - all I can add is start each day with making a list of everything you have to be grateful for to try to vanquish any negative feelings.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Thimothy: That's deep. But I can see where you're going with it. Only I don't understand the logistics of geometry, physics, etc. I'll leave that to my son who has a dual degree in physics/astronomy. Anyhow, your articulate comments are very welcome and appreciated. You are really a deep thinker! Whew! I thought I was a bit too obsessive, you know, wanna analyze every human behavior. But it just comes natural. Seems like it helps me cope when things go crazy. Just sit down, figure it out, create the structure and understand WHY things work or don't. Great information you have!

    • Timothy Donnelly profile image

      Timothy Donnelly 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you for sharing this helpful Hub. It has a positive premise which is important to a healthy and vigorous life. Good Job.

      Because this is an important subject, its reference no doubt shared by many, please allow me to include another model, that of the Tetrahedron (a polyhedron with four planes, each plane being a triangle), and its use in the instruction of (believe it or not) the Safe Operation of a Forklift Truck. Sometimes called a “stability triangle”, there is the critical necessity of the CENTRE of GRAVITY always to remain somewhere inside this (three-dimensional) graph. Otherwise the truck WILL tip; and the ramifications of this hazard are plentiful. This happens when either the LOAD being carried exceeds the truck’s designed CAPACITY, or the VECTOR (force due to speed and direction) the truck moves in becomes too great. When either of these two conditions are not satisfied, the result is that the center of gravity moves outside the bounds of the tetrahedron, causing the truck to tip in the direction the centre of gravity has moved. Of course we mechanical types (OK, I’m a gear-head too) that can better understand this particular style of geometric representation, transpose each element into a representative human behaviour model, such as one which you bring forward.

      Godspeed donotfear, to always be stable.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Yes Jane, that's a great coping skill. What I find amazing is how we can experience a thought & feeling about something that is potentially lethal, then struggle with the action to correct it. We individuals with inflated sensitivity have to learn coping skills or else we self destruct.

    • Jane@CM profile image

      Jane@CM 

      8 years ago

      Another great article! What I do...crank the music, right now I'm hooked on the "Wicked" sound track, it helps me re-focus and helps the bad thoughts go away. I pray a lot too!

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Way to go Ras! I'll forward your hub on to her...she'll get a kick out of it.

    • Rascal Russ Miles profile image

      Rascal Russ Miles 

      8 years ago from Show Low, AZ USA

      Your feelings, thoughts, and actions were beautifully conveyed by your writing. You've inspired me to do two things, write a Hub about another ingredient and re-post a response to your comment on one of my Hubs making certain you get it.

      LOL Absolutely, er if she is anything like Ewe Sweet little lamb DoNotFear :))

      My gimmick didn't work as evidenced by the fact that, although over 130 ladies visited that Hub via facebook, I am still the only member...

      No, I didn't post this Hub to my female facebook friends. Who wants to look stupid twice?

      Please have your Sis' email me at rascal.miles@gmail.com (mention donotfear on subject line) or you can send her addie to me there.

      LuV Ya ~ Rascal Russ

    • Wayne Orvisburg profile image

      Kenneth Wayne 

      8 years ago from Alabama

      This was a good read that I couldn't have read at a better time. Thank you and keep it up!

    • Gerg profile image

      Gerg 

      8 years ago from California

      Very nicely expressed, DNF. Great job, great research, great plan of action! Thanks for sharing.

      G

    • Art 4 Life profile image

      Art 4 Life 

      8 years ago from in the middle of nowhere....

      you really should have been a shrink...putting action towards your negative feelings to combat them, sounds good..you really are an insightful person...hugs

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Keep on with these wonderful hubs! Very thoughtful, thank you.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      A very thought provoking hub. I enjoyed reading these very interesting points. I think we are all like that and just have to take a step at the time.

    • Art 4 Life profile image

      Art 4 Life 

      8 years ago from in the middle of nowhere....

      you are so insightful...it's true, some things, even though wrapped up in a pretty package, are not ok... you have a wonderful way of expressing yourself and in doing so, have helped lots of others...thanks for sharing

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Guys, thank you so much for your uplifting comments. It means a great deal to me to hear from people who are positive & real. It goes to show you that when things are wrapped up in a pretty package and all seems very, very well with life, the reality is things are not always okay, though they appear so. So we must learn to deal with the unhappy moments, as a season in time, and learn from it. Thank you again for your comments.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I think a lot of us suffer from negative feelings that consume our every waking thoughts at times. Sometimes I experience these feelings so badly, that they keep me awake at night. I agree with you that simply ignoring it doesn't help, putting together an action plan to combat such feelings is really the best thing to do. Thanks for such simple, yet effective tips. I know that sharing your thoughts and feelings will not only help others, but will help you as well.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      8 years ago

      Smart, truthful and helpful hub. Being human isn't easy, but the ride is worth it!

    • zzron profile image

      zzron 

      8 years ago from Houston, TX.

      Very wonderful hub donotfear, I hope this will help you feel better. http://hubpages.com/hub/theuniversaljourney...

    • Georgiakevin profile image

      Georgiakevin 

      8 years ago from Central Georgia

      This is an incredible hub written by a very intelligent lady. I agree with you that it is too easy to get feeling down with negative feelings energy. i also agree that our feelings determine our actions and that our actions effect everyone we come in contact with remotely or directly. This is awesome!

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