7 tips to knock-out negative thinking
How many negative thoughts pass through your mind in a day? I am terrible at this. I just cant stick at anything. I’m never going to be happy. I can't.
We all have unhelpful thoughts like these from time to time and if we can shake them off, then little damage is done. But if we fall into a habit of thinking negatively about ourselves, our future and the people around us, then we can run into problems.
The way we think affects the way we feel and act. A negative thought like I'm never going to be happy has a terrible way of making us stay unhappy – if we think I’m never going to be happy then we will feel unhappy, our self-confidence will take a dive and we will be unmotivated to do things. The less we do, the less we feel like doing and the more unhappy we feel. Negative thinking is linked to depression, anxiety, stress and low self-confidence and the basic premise of CBT (cognitive-behaviour therapy) is to learn to challenge our negative thoughts.
When we face our negative thoughts, we have the power to stop it in its tracks and strip away its negative influence over us.
Here are seven simple but profound ways we can question our thoughts. The next time a negative thought pops into mind, ask these seven questions to challenge it:
1. Says who?
If a negative thought enters your mind, ask it, "Says who?" This question exposes the thought for exactly what it is - a doubt that can harm your sense of self and well-being.
2. Is this someone else’s thought?
Here’s a revelation - Your thoughts may not even be your own! Many of the ‘voices’ in our head are the words from other people – perhaps a parent, teacher, spouse, or boss said enough negative things that we took the thought on as our own. If this is the case, let it go.
3. Do I like this thought?
Ask yourself, "Is this thought desirable or appealing?" "Does it give me a sense of possibility or joy?" “Does it motivate or encourage me?” If not, then why think it.
4. Does this thought make me feel better?
Negative thoughts are like mean, school yard bullies, tearing us down. Ask yourself if this thought is making you feel better or worse about yourself. If it doesn't enhance your self-esteem in any way, why think it?
5. Does this thought work for me?
Is this thought useful or productive? Does the thought support your desires or goals? If not, get rid of it – it’s a waste of energy.
6. Am I in control of this thought?
Does this thought have power over you or are you in control of it? Remember, you are the boss of your own thoughts, not the other way around.
7. Do I want to keep this thought or let it go?
With this question, you're finding out whether you want to hold on to your thought - If it's not doing you any good, it's probably doing you bad so it is worth letting it go.
If you turn challenging negative thoughts into a daily habit, much like brushing your teeth, you may find a shift in your mood and attitude toward the positive. Some questions will resonate more deeply with you and they will become your favourites that you can turn to everyday.
For help shifting your negative thoughts toward more realistic, positive thoughts, trying working with a clinical psychologist - at Fulham Consulting, we can provide the tools and guidance to get you thinking better to feel better. Find out more or book an appointment today.