How To Conquer Negative Thinking Once And For All
Nothing saps your life-force more than spiralling into negative thinking.
A complaint leads to an unhelpful belief, which leads to one negative thought after another.
With time, the negative thinking habit lends itself to self-sabotage, self-righteousness, criticism (of yourself and others), frustration and depression.
If you've plummeted into a vortex of negativity, then you might be finding it difficult to get your mojo back.
Well here's my top 5 ways to conquer negative thinking once and for all.
1) Accept your thoughts
Minds are relentless.
If your mind is in the habit of creating negative thoughts, then that's what it'll do, one thought after another, every day until something changes. You might think that in order to stop sinking into the spiral of negativity, that you need to stop these thoughts from happening.
In fact you might have even tried to stop the thoughts… if so, you've probably realised that it's pretty much impossible (and exhausting!)
Remember this old mind-game? Give it a go, to see what I'm getting at:
Don't think about a pink elephant.
Whatever you do, don't think about the colour pink and a big elephant with a big trunk and a cute little tail.
Push ALL thoughts about a pink elephant out of your mind and keep them out for the next minute.
Don't think about a pink elephant at all, ok? Got that, now go!
If you succeeded, the only reward is stress, on your mind, body and energy.
You can probably tell that it's not at all sustainable to keep this thought-fight up all of the time. But thankfully, the alternative is ridiculously simple and effective. Just accept your thoughts!
Instead of trying to get rid of thoughts, just accept that the thoughts are popping up yet again. It doesn't need to be a bad thing. You can even turn it into a game. There are some great techniques in The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris about how to accept your thoughts.
2) Stand back from your thoughts
Your thoughts are not YOU.
Just because you have a thought, that doesn't mean that you have to believe it or even pay attention to it.
If a thought pops into your mind that is less than helpful, instead of engaging with it, see if you can simply observe it. When you see thoughts for what they truly are, simply pictures and words that pass through your mind, you don't need to let them have so much power over you.
Listen to the Leaves On A Stream Exercise to practice standing back from your thoughts.
3) Name your thoughts
Once you've exposed your thoughts for the impostors that they are, you can detach from their grip further by observing them and labelling them.
As a thought floats into your mind, label it with a word that describes the sort of thought that it is, e.g. "Judgment", "Self-Sabotage", "Future Planning" or "Worry."
Listen to the Observing and Naming Thoughts Exercise to practice labelling your thoughts.
4) Defuse from your thoughts
When dealing with thoughts that stem from trauma, worry or anxiety, the practice of defusion will help you remain neutral when recurring or persistent thoughts torment you.
When you can defuse from your thoughts on demand you will be able to choose how you want to respond to the thoughts every time they pop up. The thoughts will lose their power and more importantly, their pain.
Practice Defusing From Your Thoughts using this exercise.
5) Practice positive thinking
If you intentionally practice positive thinking then you will lower you pre-disposition of getting stuck in the trap of negative thinking in the first place.
If you're recovering from anxiety or any other type of negative thinking trap then taking note of things to laugh at, feel happy about and grateful for will improve your mood and re-wire your brain to be more positive!
Here's a Gratitude Meditation to get you started!