Do you sometimes find your negative thoughts can get completely out of control?
You start out by thinking one upsetting thought. In seconds, another has popped into mind, and then another, until you find yourself on a negative downwards spiral. And if you don’t break the pattern, these thoughts deplete your sense of well-being and leave you feeling anxious, powerless and in fear.
So What is Negative Thinking?
Thinking patterns that have no practical value, and which cause us suffering constitute negative thinking. Some examples might be:
- Worrying about the repercussions of a mistake you made without any real reason to support such a thought.
- Being frantically consumed by the thought of being cheated on by your partner without any proof to support such a belief.
- Hypochondria and compulsivly focusing on all the little niggles in your physical body, thinking the worst and blowing them up out of all proportion.
- Worrying about what will happen to you after retirement when you’re nowhere near retirement age.
Basically, worrying obsessively about things that haven’t happened yet, and resenting or dwelling on difficult situations in the past, or feeling guilty about the things you did or didn’t do are all forms of negative thinking.
You can recognise when you’re doing it because you’ll feel a sense of restlessness, unease, tension or constriction through your body, with thoughts that go round and round your head as your limited mind tries to find a solution to whatever you’re obsessing over.
How do you Escape Negative Thinking?
If you find yourself spending too much time listening to the negative inner voices in your mind and believing what they say about you, it impacts your self belief and self esteem, and increases your stress levels. It’s the start of insanity! So the appropriate question would be how can I live more sanely?
A mild amount of stress is necessary to keep us motivated and moving forward in life, but what is a problem are the obsessive negative thinking patterns.
Eckhart Tolle says in his book, ‘The Power of Now’…
“You have to make a choice about whether you want to go through life in an insane manner or in a sane manner. Life is always asking you to make this one choice. Negative thinking is nothing but a resistance to life itself. The only way to drop it is by bringing negative thought patterns to the light of your presence and scrutiny. Then you realise there is no truth to them to start with.”
Negative thinking really is just a waste of vital energy, but you don’t have to let it take over.
You have a choice.
You can learn to take control of your thoughts in a way that will help you instead of harm you…
So here are 18 ways to shift your energy and your negative mind state:
1. Do yoga.
Takes focus away from your thoughts and brings attention to the breath. Yoga is also very relaxing which helped ease your mind. Yoga helps you stay present to your experience so instead of jumping to what could happen, it brings you back to the now—the only moment, the most important moment.
It really does help change your mood and relieve stress. You might also feel lighter because it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown!
3. Be mindful of what you’re affirming and saying to yourself
When you catch yourself saying “Ican’t do it”, “It’ll never work”, “Something’s bound to go wrong”, “Good things never happen to me”, etc, STOP! – then turn the statements around to be positive affirmations – “I can find a way to do this”, “I’m looking forward to the next steps once this has worked out”, “I am able to create anything that I truly desire”, “I deserve to have all good things happen in my life”.
(You have to keep practising affirmations and really feel the feelings and truth of the statements to get real results – but that’s a whole other blog!)
4. Don’t play the victim. You create your life—take responsibility.
Even if our life situation becomes unbearable, there is always a way out. You will always have the choice to make change happen, if need be.
5. Help someone.
Take the focus away from you and do something nice for another person. It takes your mind off your own problems when your attention is on helping someone else, and it shifts your energy so you’ll feel better.
6. Remember that no one is perfect and let yourself move forward.
It’s easy to dwell on your mistakes, but the only thing you can do now is learn from them and move forward.
Singing provides amazing stress relief and has so many wonderful benefits. It taps into your joy, and the energy created through singing affects us on every level. Singing with a group is even more powerful because of the combined energy.
8. Read positive quotes.
Put them on post-it notes where you’ll see them around the house to uplift you.
9. Start writing a daily gratitude diary
Focus on all the things that you are truly grateful for – this changes your focus to a positive one rather than looking at all the problems you have, and connects you with the energy of joy.
10. Change your physiology
Firstly don’t look down – it’s difficult to feel depressed when you’re looking up, so look at the ceiling, with your chin up, chest forward and breathe slowly into your belly, just watching your breath (this is also a good present moment awareness exercise).
11. Write ‘Morning Pages’ (From Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist Within)
Let your stream of consciousness out on paper. Write 3 sides of A4 daily to empty your mind of all the stuff that’s constantly going round and round. Once it’s out it is acknowledged and you will find the thoughts don’t plague you so much after some days of doing this, and your more creative, life affirming thoughts will start to flow again, bringing you more clarity and positivity.
12. Spend time with yourself
Get to know what you like to do, what you might enjoy – including music, movies, books, hobbies, activities and so on – get to know yourself, nurture yourself like you would a friend.
13. Spend time with positive people
The best antidote to negativity is simply to spend time doing positive, uplifting activities with people you love to spend time with. Often if we get into analysing or examining our own negativity it does nothing to reduce it, so hang out with your friends and let yourself be distracted.
14. Don’t accept negativity from other people
We live in a world where there are no shortage of pessimists, critics and doomongers. There will always be people who can find the negative in life; but, there is no reason why we have to ascribe to their world view.
It’s said that you become the average of the five people you hang around with most, so be careful about who you choose to spend your time with, and choose to be with positive people.
15. Meditate and let go of thoughts
If you can learn to control your thoughts, you can control the experience and emotions of life. One of best antidotes to negativity is learning the art of meditation. Meditation is more than just relaxation; it is a change in consciousness. We move from the limited perspective of our mind and discover an inner source of happiness.
16. Live in the heart
The nature of the mind is to be suspicious and critical. If someone does 99 good things and 1 bad thing, the mind will invariably remember the bad thing. If we allow ourselves to be drawn into highlighting the mistakes of others we will invite a negative mindset. However, if we live in the heart we are not drawn to the faults of others.
It’s in the heart that we can have a true sense of oneness, people’s faults seem insignificant and we can feel a sense of identity with the achievements of others.
17. Don’t sit around doing nothing
The worst thing for a negative frame of mind is to mope around feeling sorry for ourselves. Exercise can be a powerful way to bring about a new consciousness by moving you into the present moment by reconnecting you with your body and taking the focus away from the mind. Plus, when you exercise it releases endorphins which are your natural ‘happy chemicals’.
Negativity is often associated with boredom and lack of purpose, so set your intention to find something good to do, and go out and do it!
18. Force yourself to think of 3 positive thoughts.
If you are feeling really miserable and have a low sense of self esteem, try thinking of 3 good things that you have done. At times our own mind can be our worst enemy and very self critical. It is important not to lose a sense of balance; for the various bad things we have done, we have also done some good things.
Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
Happy positive thinking!
If you’ve found this article useful I’d love to hear your comments, and please share with anyone you think might need a lift! x