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How to Cope with Our Thoughts

Updated on November 10, 2017
Karin Steyn profile image

Karin Steyn is a teacher with an Honors Degree in Teaching and Learning. She motivates and inspires teenagers every day.


Many of us suffer because we have an overactive mind and negative thoughts that control us. Our negativity stems from a lack of consistency in our lives. Consistency makes us feel safe and comfortable, which is why we resist change.

Is consistency good? Aldous Huxley said: “Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead.” Suffice to say, consistency can thwart personal growth.

Conflict Exists

Because we are unique, we differ from each other in the way we think and perceive things, and in the way we react. When we are confronted on a daily basis with conflicting attitudes, beliefs, opinions, behaviours and reactions we suffer a form of tension.

Suffering Dissatisfaction

We cannot prevent this tension because we can’t stop worldly influences from infiltrating our minds. The constant bombardment of many different perspectives and constant changes brings disharmony. Mainstream media (television and newspapers) provides us with mass information, which our minds absorb and then process or reject. Subconsciously we are affected by our insatiable desire to have what the world is offering us and we suffer dissatisfaction.

Do Thoughts Cause Suffering?

When we look at the definition of the word ‘thought’ we learn that it is the product of mental activity. Mental activity involves the processing of information. This information comes from various sources and can be likened to stories. According to Byron Kathleen Reid, these stories are harmless. Thoughts do not make us suffer. What makes us suffer is our attachment to our thoughts, when we dwell on our thoughts or hold on to them.

Understanding and Letting Go

We cannot control negative thoughts from entering our mind. The point is not to control them, but rather to understand them and then to let go of them. When we become obsessed with these negative thoughts, we become anxious. Anxiety is adrenalin that needs an outlet, which intensifies our fear regarding these often irrational thoughts.

Negative Thoughts

Can we let go of negative thoughts? Yes, we can! We have the power to control the way we think and the way we steer our thoughts.

  1. Just be! Calm the mind and focus on thinking in the moment. Many times we are tormented by things that have happened in the past. If we think in the present, we can tune into what we are sensing. A calm mind can cope better with reality.
  2. Write! Sometimes thoughts seem jumbled. For clarity, write these thoughts exactly as they appear in the mind. It may help us to make sense of what we are thinking.
  3. Analyse the emotion! Go to the source of the emotion and try to identify and analyse the emotion behind the thought.
  4. Visualise the situation! Draw the thought on a mental piece of paper and look at it. Mentally crumple the paper and throw it away.
  5. Acknowledge time! Accept the fact that the thought is temporary. It will pass. It has no power over the mind in its temporary state.
  6. Learn to laugh! Learn to laugh out loud at negative thoughts. Many times our own fears make us paranoid.
  7. Find distractions! Be busy! Do things that will help negative thoughts drift away. A busy mind cannot obsess on thoughts.

Empower your Mind


The Power of Repetition

A negative mind is a dangerous mind. We should learn to be vigilant over our thoughts. If we can empower ourselves to think positively and motivationally, we will develop confidence and strength to move forward in a world filled with dissonance. While this is much easier to write about than put into practice, believe in the power of repetition. The more we fill our minds with positive thoughts, the easier it will get.


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