Have you ever caught yourself thinking things like “He thinks I’m a loser.” “I’ll get rejected.” “I’ll make a fool of myself.” “I’ve got nothing done.” “My neighbour did not talk to me this morning, therefore I must have done something to upset them.” etc. These are negative mind patterns that arise whenever we have a negative thought. When we begin to feel this negative emotion, our behavior is described by inaction, outbursts, sobbing, solitude, and other undesirable actions.
One of the most important gifts bestowed on humans is the ability to manifest thoughts from time to time in our minds. Thoughts are the seeds that have germinated and grown into revolutions and innovations throughout history. However, it is critical to have a thinking that contributes to the development of the personality, the advancement of society or the globe, and the betterment of nature.
Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.-Willie Nelson
Why Do We Get Negative Thoughts?
Negative thoughts are experienced by all of us at some time but are more prevalent and extreme whenever we feel stressed, anxious, irritable or depressed. Negative thoughts are associated with negative feelings such as sadness, anxiety, anger, and hopelessness. The worse we feel, the more likely we are to think negatively and believe these thoughts to be true, even though they are unreasonable and unrealistic.
According to one study, negative thoughts account for around 70% of the hundreds of thoughts we have each day. There could be a variety of causes for the negative thinking. Negative thoughts can develop in a variety of ways, but if you believe you are prone to them, some of the following may sound familiar:
- You often assume the thoughts, emotions, and intentions of other people.
- You might minimize the importance of positive events, experiences, or characteristics and ruminate on the negative ones.
- You can’t help but focus on the worst possible outcome of a situation or predict that something will turn out poorly before it even happens.
- You often feel responsible for negative events that are out of your control (and conversely, reject responsibility for positive results).
- You always focus on what you “should” be doing or the way you “should” be.
Often, our negative thoughts are learned through our environment, experiences, and relationships. When people are caught in negative thinking patterns, it’s common for the feelings associated with that thought to be negative (sadness, regret, despair, depression, anger, etc).
How to Stop Negative Thoughts?
Our minds are wired to fixate on negative thoughts and experiences over positive ones. How can we expect to manage our negative thoughts if our brains are designed this way?
Acknowledge the negative thoughts:
“Accepting” is like half the solution is done. Unless we acknowledge the negative thoughts and work on it, we cannot succeed in stopping its spiral effects. Acknowledging would help us in replacing these thoughts with positive ones. Popping up of negative thoughts is absolutely normal in nature. If you try to say NO to them, they would bother us till we pay some attention to them. We need to relax ourselves and pay little attention to these negative thoughts.
Observe and be conscious:
Just like how you have the ability to choose negative thoughts, you also have the same ability to choose positive ones. The most effective way to eliminate negative thinking is to remember that you are the consciousness that witnesses these thoughts in your mind.
Witnessing your negative thoughts helps you remember the fact that you are not your negative thoughts. The recognition that you are the consciousness that sits behind these thoughts gives you the power to choose again. Most of us respond to negative thoughts with more fear and worry but that only reinforces the negative thought pattern. In fact, you can use your negative thoughts as a compass back to positivity. Negative thoughts show you what you don’t want so you can clarify what you do want. The key here is to be conscious enough to take a step back and perceive your negative thoughts as the perfect opportunity to pivot back into positivity.
Try changing your environment:
Once you start to notice when your negative thoughts come up, notice where you physically are when they do. If your negative thoughts occur most often when you’re using social media, take a break for a while. The addictive nature of social media can make this difficult, so if you find it hard to stop scrolling, set a screen timer on your phone so you can stay aware of how long you’ve been on your phone or put your phone in another room after dinner and have some physical time away from your screen. Then notice if this affects your thoughts. If you notice that you feel better, try to make a practice of spending less time on social media.
Or maybe your negative thoughts arise after spending time with a family member, coworker, or someone in your community. Again, notice what thoughts are coming up and what effect they have on your body. If you can, remove yourself from the situation with that person next time, and see what effect that has. if you can’t force or expect the people around you to change, surround yourself with different (positive) people.
Practice Positive Affirmations:
Positive affirmations can be used in a couple of different ways. You practice them every morning or say an affirmation as soon as you feel a negative thought coming your way.
For example, if you’re working to find a new partner and catch yourself thinking that you don’t deserve love, you can say “I am a valuable, lovable person and I will find a great relationship.” Saying affirmations on a daily basis start to reshape your thinking, making them a powerful tool even when you’re already in a good mood. Write your affirmations carefully, and try making eye contact with yourself in the mirror when you recite them.
Try De-stressing Therapies:
Mindful meditation practiced by focusing on the present and observing your thoughts as they come, can help in reducing anxiety caused by worrying thoughts about the past and future. Simply sit and meditate on those thoughts. Allow those thoughts to burst while you are watching them from a distance. If you find it difficult to sit, move into the nature along with these thoughts. A brief walk or jog would ease the pressure on your mind. Most of the persons choose to get into the action of making hobby to deal with negative thoughts. Take out time for hobby such as reading, gardening, music, dance or something that gives you happiness. It is important to act (Meditate, Move & Make) along with negative thoughts if you really want to them to die down.
Focus on gratitude:
Life has its own ups and downs and life is never easy. We overcome difficulties when we stop complaining and move forward and act positively acknowledging the good things around us. Being authentically grateful is hard. To build a sustainable gratitude practice, make it a part of your daily routine. Start your morning with gratitude journal. Write 3 things you’re grateful for. Reflect on the positives at the end of each day. Our brain cannot focus on positive and negative thoughts simultaneously. Practising gratitude consciously, we can train our mind to focus on positive thoughts.
One of the best ways to stop negative thoughts is to be authentic and express freely. Most of the time we do not open ourselves and speak our heart out. Negative thoughts are normal and universally true when it comes to receiving something you don’t like from friends and family. TIWIW encourages you to look at the new dimension of stopping negativity in your daily life by making positive difference in someone else life. By fulfilling wishes of your near & dear ones, supporting them to achieve their goals, being a conscious consumer and gifting love to the world one can spread positivity.
Start to clear negative thoughts from your mind today!