The world is such a stressful place.
The very thought of this broods emotions full of sadness and anger. But what if I told you there was something out there in this crazy mixed-up world that could make your life easier? What would be different for you then?
Negative thinking can cause sadness, tension, and low self-esteem. The key to transforming your negative ideas is to first understand how you think today, and then use strategies to lessen the effect of these beliefs.
It might sound simple, but many people do not realise the power of thinking. If you have a negative thought and continually think it over time, then your mind may make it seem like your thoughts are true when in reality they’re just fear-based beliefs that will cause more pain than good if left unchecked. It is important to identify and understand what’s behind these thoughts and then use strategies to lessen the effect of these beliefs so that they don’t take over- even for a second.
Oftentimes our thoughts affect how we feel emotionally or behave in life situations; this means there are moments when those types of negative thoughts may arise on their own without us noticing (sometimes simply due to stress).
It is important to know what we do when toxic ideas come into play. The best thing for us then is to distract ourselves with something else or take a five minute break from the situation in order not let these negative feelings drag on longer than they should.
This is a really powerful technique that helps you change your thought patterns.
The following helpful steps will not only be more effective in changing negative thoughts but also create healthier thoughts too.
1. Identify and label cognitive distortions by observing your thoughts
Some common types are “black-and-white” thinking, where you view yourself as a complete success or failure in every situation.
Other negative thinking patterns include:
- Overgeneralising from one incident to all other incidents that could happen.
- Jumping to conclusions without any evidence for the conclusion being true.
- Filtering out positive information about oneself because it doesn’t fit with their self image of being worthless/bad person.
- Inappropriately blaming others instead of taking responsibility for themselves when things don’t go well.
- Emotional reasoning escalates negative feelings which increase anxiety levels. Which means assessing a situation based on what emotions are felt rather than facts or logic
For example, if you tend to think everything is bad and there’s nothing good anywhere around then this may be an inappropriate blame attribution issue.
2. Cognitive restructuring to alter Negative thoughts
One of the best ways to help you break free from your negative thoughts is through cognitive restructuring. This process typically takes place in five steps:
- Asking yourself if the thought that just popped into mind is realistic
- Think about what happened during past situations similar to this one and evaluate how accurate these new thoughts are with previous memories or experiences.
- Actively challenge those initial conclusions by looking for other explanations.
- Recognising what things you gain versus lose from continuing to believe those thoughts before acting on them.
- Consider what we would tell a friend who has the same type of mindset
This is an act of identifying negative thoughts patterns and replacing them with positive or productive responses.
3. Stop Stopping Negative thoughts
Thought stopping is the act of being on the lookout for negative thoughts and insisting that they be eliminated. The problem with thought stopping, however, is it gives your mind less space to regulate itself. When you try too hard not to think a certain way or have a particular feeling, these feelings only seem more prominent in response. It’s important to take a step back from your thoughts and only deal with them when you’re ready. Mindfulness has been found to be an effective technique for reducing stress related symptoms like depression, anxiety, and anger without any side effects or setbacks on one’s mental health
4. Coping with Criticism and Rejection
Rejection is a natural part of life. Sometimes you need to deal with people being critical and judgmental towards you, but it’s important that they don’t get the best of your self-esteem. If faced with criticism in real life, having a set of assertive responses prepared will help you deal with these potentially anxiety-provoking situations. This is because by being more confident and speaking your mind without worrying about what others think; you can overcome any obstacle that might come up during the process. Furthermore, this helps make sure the other person knows how to approach certain topics or conversations they may have wanted to discuss but were unsure if it was appropriate for them to speak openly about themselves first as well.
In order to handle criticism and rejection with a more positive attitude, it is important for you to learn how much distress they can cause. By improving your ability at handling these emotions, you may be able to get through them easier without feeling as bad about yourself.
5. Maintaining a Thought Diary for Negative thoughts
You’re probably not even aware of all the negative thoughts that are running through your head. Thought diaries are an excellent way to understand the cause and effect of your negative thoughts. By taking time each day to write down what you’re feeling, why you think it’s happening, how this makes you feel about yourself (and others), and what could have happened differently–you can start making positive changes in no time!
Negative thoughts are fairly common, and it may be due to the fact that we have more negative experiences than positive ones or a negativity bias which makes us focus on things like all of our flaws instead of recognising how amazing we really can be.
When a negative thought comes up, it can be hard to get rid of. “Practice makes perfect” is the key here! A quick fix will never work – but with time and patience you’ll start forming new thoughts that are more likely to make life better for you than before.