How to Stop Negative Thoughts
Are you the sort of person who is constantly consumed by negative thoughts? Do you find it difficult to live your daily lives because of this overpowering negativity that seems to surround you? While most of us have negative thoughts and can deal with them effectively and not let them affect our daily lives, for some people, negative thoughts can be all consuming. It devours them internally, drains them of their energy, makes them all but a shell of the person they could have been – without this constant negativity holding them back. I used to be a person consumed by negativity when I was younger. It was a life full of misery because you just couldn’t seem to find anything to be happy about. It was as if I was addicted to negative thoughts. Negative thoughts consumed my being. I would find things to be bitter about in almost anything and then I would wallow in self-pity. It was as if I was hooked onto a drug. I just couldn’t get out. Then, at a point in my life, I decided to take control and do something to get rid of the negative thoughts that were consuming me and keeping me from living my life and being happy. What follows are the steps I took to liberate myself of negative thoughts. I am sure some of these steps would work for you too!
Be Free of Negative Thoughts
Be Self-Aware – Be in Touch with Your Thoughts Constantly
As with anything else, you are unlikely to solve a problem if you are unaware there is a problem to be solved in the first place. Hence, the importance of being self-aware and in recognizing your thought patterns. Identify the negative thought patterns you are susceptible to and those negative thoughts that seem to be a recurring theme for you. In most cases, there may be a handful of such themes that are of a recurring nature. Once you have identified and self-diagnosed what starts and sets off a possible chain of negative thoughts inside of you, you can then proceed to the next step. Even if you don't have a recurring theme or pattern of negative thoughts, the below steps should address them just as well.
Observe as if You Were on the Outside Looking in
As you are having a negative thought, take a step back mentally and look at the thought, as if you were looking at what is going on in your mind from the outside in. This should give you a whole new perspective and help you evaluate if you should really be feeling as negative as you are about the situation in question. This may seem like a complicated thing to do, but it really isn’t. All you are doing is evaluating your thought as it is going on in your head and figuring out if it is really worth giving as much time and energy that you seem to be giving to it.
Have an Honest Assessment of the Negative Thoughts
Since these negative thoughts are likely to keep returning to you, look at them objectively and assess if they are truly something to feel as negative about as you do. Ask yourself couldn’t things be worse? Look at your life as a whole and ask, “do I really have nothing to be happy about?” It may well be that you think you have nothing to be happy about, but is that view shared by those around you – those who love you? Often times, we just don’t see what we have that we can be happy about because the negative thoughts just consume us fully and blind us to what we truly have and should be happy about.
Have Low Self-Esteem? Change That! Feel Good About Yourself
Self-esteem is how you evaluate your own self-worth. If you are constantly telling yourself that "I am not good enough," or "I am worthless," or "I don't look good enough," etc., then you have low self-esteem. Let me dwell on my own issues with low self-esteem here. There was a time when I felt that I wasn't good looking. I especially felt that my nose was abnormally long and felt that this could probably be the subject of ridicule or gossip by my friends - behind my back. There were a couple of friends who did make off-hand comments about it and that exacerbated my belief that my nose was indeed quite abnormally long and funny looking. Because of this, I would constantly imagine that the people I talked to are focusing on just my nose, thinking to themselves how long it was, and probably laughing about it in their mind. You can imagine how this made me feel. I didn't want to face people. I was constantly conscious about my appearance. I just wanted to go and hide someplace.
Over time though, I realized that my nose was perfectly fine - it was my mind that was the problem. While earlier when people stared at me (probably because they recognized me from somewhere), I would think that they are looking at my "abnormally long" nose and laughing about it in their minds - now, when someone stares at me, I say to myself, well "Don't they just think I look gorgeous as to stare at." There isn't an occasion now that I question my appearance or feel that something could be wrong about me. I am the same person I was - the only difference being in how I look at myself now. You too can overcome your low self-esteem issues if you just acknowledge it and work at it - like I did!
Identify and Stop The Negative Thought in its Tracks
Once you’ve evaluated your triggers for starting off a negative thought and analyzed the kind of themes that are recurring to you, or otherwise, you would be better equipped to identify the negative thought as it starts to form in your mind. When it does, you can then call it out and identify it in your head and say to yourself something along the lines of, “There I go, I am just about to, or starting to think negatively again. I will not allow it to continue and consume me.” Challenge the negative thought immediately like so, or say it aloud in a whisper. Once you’ve stated this, proceed to do a task that was pending or get busy with any other work that needs getting done and you’ve successfully stopped the negative thought from taking control of you.
Replace the Negative Thought with a Positive One
Once you have successfully stopped the negative thought from proceeding further by doing the above, replace it with a positive affirmation. Tell yourself something along the lines of, "I am a very special person - there is no one in this world like me - I am unique," or "There is no worry in this world that is capable of conquering me," or "I won't give up - I will keep fighting," or "There are so many good things in my life - I should focus on them and not give in to negative thoughts," or "I know I am not perfect, but I am better than so many people I know." These kind of positive thoughts would help you feel better and help you appreciate the things that you have going for you in your life.
Feel Thankful For What You Have - That Things Aren't Worse!
When I am faced with a troubling situation, a situation that makes me feel extremely down, I try to place that situation among various other potential situations that could have happened to me. I ask myself a "what if" series of questions. I inevitably come to the conclusion then that the problem I facing right now is not as bad as it could have been. This helps me keep things in perspective and focus on dealing with the trouble at hand with renewed vigor and enthusiasm. There would also be many other things you'd find in your lives to be thankful about - if you sit down and reflect on your life. It may just be a couple of things, but focus on them and be thankful for them - know that things aren't as bad as it may seem to you. Our thoughts are ours. The way we look at things is decided by us. We have a choice to look at every given situation either as a glass half full or as a glass half empty, in other words, positively or negatively. Train your mind to view things positively and you'd be surprised at how everything changes for the better!
© 2012 Shil1978