12 Nov Breaking Free of Negative Thoughts – Part 2:
In Part 1, we discussed how to recognise some common types of Cognitive Distortions or Negative Thought patterns. In this article, you can build on your newfound self-awareness in order to learn how to tap into the positive and manage the negative.
Most of us spend a lot of time inside our own mind — worried about the future, replaying events in the past, and generally focusing on the parts of life that leave us dissatisfied.
Negative or unwanted thoughts can prevent you from enjoying your experiences, distract you from focusing on what’s really important and drain your energy. Also, they can play a significant part in making you feel stressed, anxious and depressed.
The good news is that with dedicated practice, you can replace negative thinking patterns with thoughts that actually help. This can make a huge difference in your daily life, so you can increase your happiness and comfort levels instead of dwelling on old irrational thinking.
Here are 6 keys to managing your negative thoughts:
- Challenge negative thoughts. Whenever you have a distorted thought, stop and evaluate whether it is accurate. Think about how you would respond if a friend spoke about herself that way. You would probably offer a good rebuttal to his or her negative view. Apply the same logic to your own thoughts. Ask yourself if you are assuming the worst will happen or blaming yourself for something that has not gone the way you wanted. And then think about other possible outcomes or reasons that something turned out differently than you hoped.
- Take a break from negative thoughts.It is possible to learn how to separate from negative thoughts. One way to do this is to allow yourself a certain amount of time (maybe a few minutes) with the thought. Then take a break from focusing on it and move on with your day.
- Release judgment. We all judge ourselves and others, usually unconsciously. Constantly comparing ourselves to other people or comparing our lives to some ideal breeds dissatisfaction. When you practise releasing judgment by simply noticing the thought and then letting it go without reaction or engagement. Another helpful technique is to “positive judge.” When you notice you are negatively judging a person, yourself, or a situation – pause, reframe or look for a positive quality too.
- Practice gratitude. Research shows that feeling grateful has a big impact on your levels of positivity and happiness. Especially when you are experiencing a challenging time in your life, noticing the things that are going well and making you feel happy will keep you in touch with them. Keeping a gratitude journal or simply identifying 3 Good Things that when well that day just before bedtime can have a huge impact on improving your sleep quality.
- Focus on your strengths. It’s human nature to dwell on the negative and overlook the positive. The more you can practice focusing on your strengths and not dwelling on mistakes you’ve made, the easier it will be to feel positive about yourself and the direction your life is taking. If you find yourself thinking harsh thoughts about your personality or actions, take a moment to stop and think about something you like about yourself..
- Seek out professional support if you are unable to manage your thoughts or find they are interfering with your ability to meet your daily responsibilities or enjoy life.
Coaching can support your inner strength, enhance your resilience, help navigate challenges, reduce emotional suffering, improve performance and experience self-growth to dramatically improve your quality of life.