3 Strategies to Overcome Negative Thinking

When was the last time you thought about what you think? If you have reflected on the nature of the ideas that pass through your mind, would you say that most of your thoughts are positive, negative, or something in between? How you answer that question reveals a lot about your typical attitude and disposition towards events, people, and things encountered in life. The nature of the majority of your thoughts has a profound impact on both your overall physical and mental health. Before discussing the three strategies to overcome negative thinking, some background information will promote greater awareness and success. 

The Problem with Ongoing Negative Thinking Patterns

You might wonder why negative thinking is problematic since everyone experiences both positive and negative thoughts weekly, if not daily. The occasional negative thought or concern is not the focus of this article. The focus of this article targets negative thinking patterns. Those patterns tend to recur frequently. When those thoughts emerge in the person's mind, they typically persist for an extended duration each time.

Many people cannot confidently answer questions about their thinking habits. Being unaware of one's daily thoughts could develop into grave consequences because negative thoughts are harmful. Negative thoughts might race through someone's head uncontrollably. The experience of rapid thoughts entering and leaving one's awareness without any ability to control them can result in feelings of high stress or anxiety. Worrying is an example of a negative thinking pattern. In general, the act of worrying involves a person who believes that a particularly unpleasant or undesired event or thing is true. Unfortunately, the worrier often spends vast amounts of time believing something to be true when, in reality, it is not true.

Research studies indicate that negative thoughts consume large amounts of energy and cause one to feel miserable. Along with those facts, negative thinking patterns tend to be irrational, and rob you of time, thereby limiting one's productivity. Those who experience ongoing negative thought patterns may feel trapped in a mind that is out of their control. At this stage, the effects of recurring negative thoughts have the ability to damage the mind and body. Some individuals burdened with ongoing negative thinking habits have described the sensation as being “a prisoner in your own mind.” If not changed, any event or object that activates the intense memory associated with a persistent negative thought could produce a strong emotional response described as a “flood” of overwhelming thoughts and feelings that swirl uncontrollably in one's head.

Moreover, ongoing negative thoughts have the ability to limit your ability to concentrate. They also require much more effort in order to achieve daily goals. For those whose thoughts frequently linger on undesired or unpleasant events from their past, or that worry about things that could happen in the future usually report issues associated with memory and sleep. Unless steps are taken to mitigate extended negative thinking patterns, that condition will advance to the chronic state. Once negative thinking becomes chronic the individual often develops clinical depression.

Depression Insights

Depression is a self-preservation state that the mind creates to reduce or stop the detrimental effects of stress associated with negative thoughts linked to intense emotions. By inducing depression, the brain significantly limits the individual's ability to experience all emotions since it cannot isolate one emotion, such as fear, from all others. You probably have some knowledge of the adverse effects of depression. Though, are you aware of the benefits associated with depression?

Depression allows the individual to exercise greater caution before taking action. Another benefit of being depressed is greater caution that enables the individual the opportunity to make better choices. Researchers discovered a neurological explanation for negative thinking patterns. Within everyone, there is a part of the brain that controls emotions. That part of the brain is called the amygdala.

When aroused, the amygdala maintains that arousal state for some time thereafter. The events responsible for bringing about your strong emotions bond with intense memories of those events. Several other areas of the brain create our memories. Memories connected to strong emotions create deep imprints. Expressed another way, the strength of the emotional response parallels the intensity of the associated memory. Along with depression, pessimism may be advantageous.

Individuals who typically expect the worst tend to be more resourceful because they typically make plans should things go array. In the following section, you will learn 3 strategies to overcome negative thinking. will learn three strategies that can help you regain some control over your negative thinking patterns. It is essential that you frequently use these strategies. Repetition is the key to regaining a quieter mind.

3 Strategies to Overcome Negative Thinking

Master Mantras!

Mantras are short, simple words or phrases that are repeated sounds, words, or affirmations intended to calm the mind. Researchers discovered that participants that used of mantras in clinical trials reported a decrease in the frequency of negative thinking and self-judgment.

Repeat mantras several times throughout the day. While reciting your mantra, your thoughts may wander. If that happens, that is common. When you realize that your thoughts have drifted from your mantra, take a deep breath and gently bring your thoughts and feelings back to the sound. Diction is not the focus. Recite your mantra will your voice, head, and heart.

Examples of possible mantras to use for negative thinking include sounds such as "Om" and “Teem”. Mantras can be affirmations such as “This will work in my favor,” “I am loved, and I am worthy to be loved,” or “Life is beautiful, I am beautiful.”

Live in the Now!

The exercise, Live in the Now!, helps you to realize that past events cannot be changed. For those with negative thoughts about things that have already happened, this strategy reminds us that past events cannot be changed. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t force or fight against negative thinking. Instead, when negative thoughts about the past emerge, use this strategy. Do not hold them or attempt to force them away--allow that thought drift away by focusing on what is happening in your life at that very moment.  Live your full life as it happens. Let go of the past!

Similarly, if your negative thoughts center around “what if” questions, the problem here is worrying. Future events have, yet, to come to pass. Future events are also beyond your reach until the present catches up to them. The only way you can truly influence any event is by living each moment of your focused on things that you are experiencing right now. 

There are many rewards associated with living fully in the now. Two key rewards are more time and energy. Instead of losing time on the merry-go-round of negative thinking, you will reclaim the time allocated to negative thoughts. Second, the reward of more energy results from more time without the two massive energy vampires, stress and anxiety. With greater energy, you will enjoy greater productivity and life-enriching activities.

Convert Negative Thoughts into Positive Acts

According to Deepak Chopra, obsessive thoughts are a cry for help. Here are a few examples of obsessive thoughts, “I’m not good at Algebra; I’ll never pass the final,” or “There’s no possible way I’ll be able to finish before the deadline.” Deepak explains how to get the needed help.

First, acknowledge that the emotion you feel is fear. Unmitigated fear can result in chronic negative thinking. Change your mental focus by sitting quietly, focus on the breath as you inhale and exhale employing long, slow, and quiet breaths, while picturing events or memories associated with joy and where you felt loved and safe. 

A variation on that strategy involves relocating to another section of the building or going outdoors. This variation goes by the name "changing your space". That does not mean to learn the latest ideas from HGTV and run to your local hardware supply store. The idea behind changing your space relates to your physical location in space. One way of changing your space is to take a break, step outside, and to go for a walk. Physical exercise includes numerous benefits. Remember, to change your space!

Conclusion

Depression and chronic negative thought patterns may seem overwhelming. However, you are not alone. You are not powerless. You have the capability to make things better. Practice the 3 strategies for overcoming negative thinking often. Close your eyes. Take a low, deep, and quiet inhalation. Open your eyes. Start now!

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