- Mental Health
Negative thoughts and how to change them?
The human brain produces approximately 70,000 thoughts per day. It means that we have different thoughts every 1.2 seconds and about 60% of these thoughts are negative, which produce immense burden on the mind and body. It is ironic but true that thoughts occur in sleep too.
Negative thoughts are caused by our deep rooted belief patterns about self esteem, security, money, people and life in general. Negativity has a big impact on different aspects of life. With consistent negative thinking, over time the negative thought patterns become well established and we start believing and living up to them. Especially, in stressful and tough situations such thoughts are produced much more and since it has become our habit, we flirt with them. Actually, we become what we think.
Those thoughts begin to turn into emotions. We start identifying with the thought as being a part of how we feel. So it goes to say that bad thoughts equate negative emotions.
Neurologically, an expression “the cells that fire together wire together” is often used. It means that the more neurons in the brain fire in one direction, the harder it is to change them. The more we think about something, the more we strengthen that memory in our brain. That is why it is important to stop negative thinking in order to stop strengthening its neural connections in the brain. But it is also known that the brain can change. This is called neuroplasticity. We don’t have to be stuck in negative thoughts. It is possible to form new positive pathways in the brain. We can rewire our brain with positive thoughts.
By changing our negative thoughts, we can change our world. The following are very effective strategies for changing the negative thoughts into positive.
- Make a list of things that you are thankful for—Common examples are family, lover, pets, comfortable home, a nice car and other assets. This will help you focus on the positivity you already have in your life. Express your gratitude for the good things you have.
- Live in the present—Many of us forget to live in the present. We spend our time in regretting events that have passed and worrying about what may happen. Accept that you cannot change the past but have a control over what you do in the present. You can make a better future by living in the present with lofty aims.
- Stop using negative words or phrases—Words like “won’t” and “can’t” allow negative thoughts to stay in the mind, resulting in them becoming a reality. Consciously, change them to “will” and “can” whenever they arise as thoughts. Accept the fact that everybody fails occasionally and instead see it as an opportunity to follow a new path.
- Use positive affirmations—Positive affirmations are a great tool to reprogram the unconscious mind from negative to positive thinking. Create positive and realistic statements. For example, instead of saying “I don’t want to feel stress,” or “I have stopped feeling stressed,” use “I am feeling peace”. The most effective way to harness the power of positive affirmations is to repeat them to you on a regular basis. Repeat them mentally several times a day. Repeating them aloud is more effective because you hear them clearly.
- Accept change—Accept the fact that change is the unchangeable law of nature. Everything changes with time good as well as bad. Embrace this concept which will prevent you from slipping into negative thoughts.
- Practice mindfulness—It is a practice of detaching yourself from your thoughts and emotions and viewing them as an outside observer. This is a form of meditation in which you view your thoughts and feelings as objects floating past you. You can stop and observe them or let pass you by. The object of this meditation practice is to gain control of your emotional reactions to the situations. This will strengthen the thinking part of the brain.
- Cognitive behavior therapy—It helps you become aware of negative thinking, so you can view difficult situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. It is an effective tool to learn how to better manage stressful life situations.
- Maintain thought diaries—Most cognitive behavioral therapy plans require the use of thought diary that an individual has to complete as a part of daily homework assignment. Thought diaries help to identify negative thinking pattern. You gain better understanding of how your thoughts cause your emotional reactions.
According to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science, clearing your mind of the negative thoughts can be as simple as writing them down on a piece of paper and physically throwing them away.