It’s normal to have negative thoughts from time to time. Everyone has them.
It is impossible to totally get rid of them. Think of them like the other side of a coin, the yang to your positive thoughts. In the same way that you can’t have light without darkness, you can’t have positive thoughts without negative.
So if you can’t get rid of negative thoughts, if they are such a normal part of our psyche, what can you do about them? Read on to find out.
How to deal with negative thoughts
Even though negative thoughts are part and parcel of you, there are ways to deal with them. You CAN teach yourself how to process them productively.
Here are 5 tools for you to get started on that journey:
- Gratitude log
Unless you have been living under a rock, you will have heard of meditation and its beneficial effects. Meditation teaches you how to get a grip on your mind, helps you relax, teaches you how to process stress effectively. It is a great tool for dealing with your negative thoughts.
Don’t have the patience to sit quietly for hours? You don’t have to. Start small, then build on it.
Need more reasons to meditate? Then check out this article: 20 scientific reasons to start meditating today
Here are 2 useful videos to help you get started with meditation:
Mindfulness is about being in the moment. Most negative thoughts arise out of fear of what might happen. When you are being mindful, you will learn how to be present, how to be in the moment. When you are focusing on the present moment, there isn’t really any option to focus on the “what mights”.
Here’s a short 3 minute primer on mindfulness.
In case you wanted a more in depth guide on mindfulness, check out this talk by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He’s the main proponent of the concept in the West.
A gratitude log is the practice of maintaining a regular journal of the things you are grateful. The science behind is solid, and the concept makes sense. When you journal about all the good things in your life, you help remind your psyche that it’s not all bad. You give it evidence that there are good things in your life, things you should be grateful for. That goes a long way to deal with the negative thoughts.
It’s really easy to start – let’s give it a try right now: what are five things you are grateful for today?
If you are finding it difficult to come up with things, here’s some perspective for you: just the fact that you are reading this article means you have at least ? things to be grateful for – you are alive, you have access to useful information, you have electricity, you can read, your brain works, you have vision! Ok, that was six, and I can go on. The point is to realise that there are LOADS of things to be grateful for. We take too much for granted.
Give it a go. Make a habit out of it. Do it first thing in the morning, right after you wake up.
You can even find apps that will remind you, so try those out.
I was going to suggest the app I used to use (have since then made it into a habit, so don’t use the app any more), but can’t find it in the google app store. You can check these 3 out though, they look promising:
I don’t use iphone, so share in the comments if you have any iphone gratitude journal app that you’d recommend.
The practice of affirmations can seem a bit hooey, but there’s scientific evidence of the positive impacts they have.
The principle is similar to that of the gratitude log’s. You feed your psyche positive information, which then ends up creating a positive loop. The way your negative thoughts manifest themselves is through negative self talk. That little voice in your head starts feeding you fear-based chatter. Think of affirmations as the opposite of that. Effectively, you engineer a positive feedback loop.
It can feel a bit weird when you are starting off, but don’t let that stop you. The discomfort is totally worth it won’t you say?
Give it a shot. Don’t knock it until you have tried it.
Here’s a list of affirmations to get you started: 35 Affirmations That Will Change Your Life – HuffPost
A word of advice: don’t overwhelm yourself – select 3-5 to start with, the ones that most resonate with you. Consistency is more important that number.
Everyone knows the physical health benefits of exercise – it can make you fitter, better, faster and stronger (in short).
What you might not realise is that exercise also impacts your brain chemistry and mental health.
Think of exercise as a bio hack – you are doing something, proactively, that then engineers an elevated mood. You engineer feeling better!
Need more convincing? Have a read of this article by Psychology Today: Why Exercise Is So Essential for Mental Health
Exercise isn’t just great for the bio hacking aspects. It also has long term impact on your ability to deal with negative thoughts. When you regularly workout, you will notice tangible health improvements (faster, stronger etc). That evidence will then create a positive feedback loop.
Doubt that? Ask yourself this then: would you feel good if you looked good? I have yet to come across anyone who has answered no.
Being healthier makes you feel good. Period.
The light at the end of the tunnel
It will take time and effort, but you CAN train yourself to deal with your negative thoughts. You can train yourself to notice them, assess them, and process them so that they don’t harm you.
At the end of the day, they are your thoughts, so you can influence them. It’s just a matter of teaching yourself how.
Getting a handle on these harmful thoughts is not just good for your sanity, it is also vital to your personal growth. So don’t ignore it.
I really hope you find this guide useful, and that it helps you get a handle on your negative thoughts.
Let me know how you get on.
All the best!
How do you deal with your negative thoughts?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
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