Practical Tips for Tackling Negative Thoughts
Change your thoughts and you change your world – Norman Vincent Peale
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature. – Marcus Aurelius
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. – Frank Outlaw
Everywhere we read that our thoughts are important — and to watch what we think. But how does one simply stop thinking a certain way. It has been said that certain thoughts and emotions, when routinely rehearsed, create little grooves/pathways in your brain. So it’s not only theoretically that your thoughts control your life, but it’s also literally — and it’s also all the more reason that one truly figures out how to take control of their thoughts.
First and foremost, you need to be patient. These thoughts did not become habitual overnight and they certainly will not disappear overnight.
Now that that is understood — you can begin looking at the basis of your thoughts. A lot of negative, limiting or self defeating thoughts are actually pretty irrational and often overgeneralized. To re-frame these types of thoughts, you have to address them individually — and determine the real root of the actual problem. You can start this by cataloging your thoughts for a few days — and write down the reoccurring ones, or major “themed” thoughts.
You can ask yourself some of following questions, and write down your answers to help you evaluate:
- What is truly the worst possible outcome of this situation?
- Am I looking at this situation correctly; what proof do I have of my fears?
- Can I actually handle this situation?
- What can I do to change this situation?
- I’m only doing/think this because I have always done/thought this?
- Am I reacting this way intentionally or am I on “auto-pilot”?
- Am I doing this to evoke a certain response from myself or others?
Some people debate the use of affirmations and their actual efficiency. I like them, and think they are a powerful tool which can aid in changing your thoughts. Once you have identified your negative thought patterns, and understand their root. While working on the core issue, you can replace the actual thought with a positive affirmation instead. Danae Horn has an entire series dedicated to using this technique and even explains in detail how to write your own affirmations.
With these techniques and intentional practice, you can slowly begin the process of changing your thoughts, and thus changing your life!