6 Tips to Stop Negative Thoughts | Stop Negative Thinking Patterns
Do you have voices in your head? No…not those kind of voices…I’m talking about that little nagging voice that you hear when you are falling asleep at night or washing your hair in the shower. The one that tells you that you are “not enough.” It’s these negative thinking spirals that seem to pop up out of nowhere. So how do you stop negative thoughts?
You just recognized yourself having another negative thought either about yourself, an event or maybe a situation you are struggling with. I am not pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, rich enough…essentially I am not enough.
I’ll let you in on a little secret…everyone feels this way. We all have that voice in our head, what sets each of us apart is how much validity and weight we give to these thoughts. Each time you have that nagging voice that tells you that you are “no good” you have two choices: you can listen to the voices and believe that you are “no good” or you can find ways to lessen their power over you.
If you want to understand why you have negative thoughts in the first place, check out this article from Dr. Abby Medcalf on the real reason you have negative thoughts (and two things you can do about it).
Here are six tips to stop negative thoughts:
Each time you catch yourself having a negative thought, just say to yourself: “Stop. Just Stop.” If saying “stop” doesn’t work for you, find a mantra that you like. Such as “just because I have a thought doesn’t make it true.”
2. Be Nice to Yourself
Now that you have recognized the thought and stopped yourself, you need to start speaking to yourself in a kind and patient manner. Think about what you would say to a really good friend if they repeated some of the things you are saying about yourself. Even if that voice is telling you something different and it feels “false” to speak kindly to yourself, just try it. You are not lying to yourself, you are telling yourself a different story.
3. Journal and Record the Negative Thoughts
Begin by challenging the thoughts. I recommend getting a journal or notebook and start by taking an inventory of all of your beliefs about yourself.
Journaling is a powerful way to begin the process of getting your irrational thoughts out of your head. Once your thoughts go from the internal to the external you are able to examine and understand your thoughts in a new way.
4. Examine and Question the Old Beliefs
Take a look at your journal and the beliefs that you have been holding onto. Which ones are leftover from your childhood?
Most of your core beliefs were formed when you were a child. This is because when you were a child you were unable to understand reason and, at the same time, were completely dependent on others. This combination puts us in a place of vulnerability which can greatly affects how we see certain situations.
One of the best parts of being an adult is that you can “change your story.” Recognize where your beliefs come from but after that it is up to you to let them go. Find a mantra for your false childhood beliefs such as, “that was what a child thought, I’m an adult now and I am no longer that thought.”
5. Examine and Question the Newer Beliefs
What about your present day beliefs? The ones about your current relationship or work or that new venture you want to launch but are too afraid? Get the journal out again and start asking some new questions. What is the basis of your current beliefs about yourself? Why are you maintaining these beliefs? How does maintaining these beliefs serve you now?
The more you understand your emotions, the more control you feel over your thoughts and feelings. Challenge your motivations for having these negative thoughts.
6. Watch Your Words
Start being the language police. Are you using words like: should, always, never, everytime. These are dangerous words. When we get into this kind of place, we tend to think in absolutes. “I never get what I want. I always fail. I should be better at ________. This happens to me everytime.” Life is not this neat and clean. No one fails every time and no one wins every time.
It may feel like you have no control over your thoughts, but in actuality your thoughts are the only thing you have complete control over. Having doubts about ourselves, fears about starting something new or taking a risk or insecurities about our futures, is a part of life, it is what makes us human.
There will always be negative thoughts that will drag us down, what I like to call, “the rabbit hole.” The key is being able to recognize the thoughts, catch them quickly and use one of the above tools to “flip the script” and create new thoughts in your head. This is how you stop negative thoughts.