How To Stop Negative Thinking
Be positive! Don’t be so negative! These well-intentioned motivational mantras rarely help someone stuck in a negative thought pattern. Sometimes it isn’t as easy as just thinking positively or ‘stressing less’. Sometimes we need to try a little harder, dig a little deeper, and get help to replace negative with positive thoughts and behaviours.
So how can we do it?
Here are some top tips to turn around your negative thinking:
1. Stay focused
When you’re feeling upset or stressed, it may be tempting to push those feelings away and try to distract yourself with something else.
But distraction rarely works. Why? Because flitting from task to task with little focus has been proven to keep us unhappy and dissatisfied.
The trick is to try focused distraction. That means distracting yourself by immersion in one single task. It could be journaling, or baking, or watching your favourite TV show. The task itself is unimportant (although try to make it something that makes you feel better about yourself!), it’s more the act of concentrating on one single thing to stop your mind from wandering and dwelling on a mistake or bad situation.
2. Worry later
Researchers say we shouldn’t avoid thinking through a problem; avoidance is rarely a healthy strategy. But how do you solve a problem without going over and over it in your mind and spinning out of control?
Postpone the problem. Set yourself a day and time for when you will nut out the issue. For example, you could make Friday at 4pm your ‘worry time’ – have a list of all your worries for the week and only focus on them during worry time. You may find some have subsided since and no longer need your attention.
3. Mindfully meditate
Meditation is magic for the mind; allowing us to enter our subconscious mind and adopt a non-judgemental approach to our thoughts. During mindful mediation, whenever a thought arises you are taught to observe it and let it go – to separate yourself from your thoughts and emotions.
4. Affirmative attitude
Some people find that personal mantras and daily affirmations also help to get a better handle on negative thinking. It’s true that we become our thoughts – so add more positive ideas to your mental bank, giving less room to the less helpful ones. An example mantra could be ‘I am calm’ or ‘I am positive’ or ‘I am loved and loving’. There are many online affirmation tools and books you can try.
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