Remembering to ask yourself a couple of questions when you have negative thoughts can interrupt the pattern
The first step to making any change is acknowledging there’s a problem. Even the most healthy, happy person still has negative thoughts, the difference is they have learned to manage them. Once it becomes a habit to manage negative thoughts you will hardly even notice them anymore.
To make this practice easier there are a couple of simple techniques we can use whenever we realize these thoughts are popping into our heads.
When we start feeling negative emotions or negative thoughts pop into our heads the first thing we need to ask ourselves is, “Is this thought useful?” By useful we mean, “Does this thought help me?”, “Does this thought make me feel better? , “Does this thought help me accomplish anything?” If the answer is no then this is not a thought we need to waste any more time on. We have thousands of thoughts a day and learning which ones and worth focusing on and which ones to let go of has a huge effect on our mental health.
The next thing to remember is not to judge ourselves for our negative thoughts. For example, if every time you have negative thoughts you think to yourself this is why I’m so useless or I can’t make any changes then you will make those thoughts come true. Everyone has negative thoughts it is ok to have them, we can acknowledge they are there, but we don’t need to feel bad about it, we just need to remember they are not useful to us.
By training our brain to disregard negative thoughts over time we will automatically go through this process of deciding if a thought is useful and focusing on it or dismissing it automatically. In fact, if you have a lot of negative thoughts now you have already trained your brain once. It’s just that we trained it to focus on the wrong things. So now through this process, we are training our brains to refocus on the right thoughts.
In summary to break the habit of negative thoughts we want to:
- Acknowledge that we have negative thoughts and consciously start noticing the thoughts we have.
- When we notice a negative thought or emotion pop up we need to ask ourselves, “Is this useful to me?” If not we need to dismiss the thought so we can begin to train our brain to automatically dismiss negative thoughts
- Make our brain a judgment-free zone. Don’t judge ourselves for having negative thoughts and emotions and realize they will happen and there will be setbacks but we can start again every time we have a negative thought.
I hope you found these techniques useful. For more about dealing with negative thoughts and emotions and strategies to live a more positive life, you can read the first chapter of my book The Path to Positivity for free on Amazon HERE.
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