empress2inspire.wordpress.comMental Health

Silence Negative Thoughts

Much of our thoughts occur automatically, which is a good thing, as we don’t generally have to work too hard to do daily or routine tasks like getting up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, getting to work etc.  And, it can be a bad thing, because they are so habitual and automatic that we don’t usually pay much attention to them. If you think back to the last time you got annoyed or anxious, can you remember what it was that you were thinking? It takes practice to try and focus on what thoughts were going through your mind?

Here are a few ways in which you can try to change your thinking :

  • Identify the Distortion : Write down your negative thoughts so you can see which of the ten cognitive distortions you’re involved in. This will make it easier to think about the problem in a more positive and realistic way.
  • Examine the evidence : Instead of assuming that your negative thought is true, examine the actual evidence for it. For example, if you feel that you never do anything right, you could list several things you have done successfully.
  • The Double-Standard Method : Instead of putting yourself down in a harsh, condemning way, talk to yourself in the same compassionate way you would talk to a friend with a similar problem.
  • The Experimental Technique : Do an experiment to test the validity of your negative thought. For example, if, during the episode of panic, you become terrified that you’re about to die of a heart attack, you could jog or run up and down several flights of stairs. This will prove that your heart is healthy and strong.
  • Thinking in Shades of Grey : Although this method might sound drab, the effects can be illuminating. Instead of thinking about your problems in all-or-nothing extremes, evaluate things on a range of 0 to 100. When things don’t work out as well as you hoped, think about the experience as a partial success rather than a complete failure. See what you can learn from the situation.
  • The Survey Method : Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and attitudes are realistic. For example, if your believe that public speaking anxiety is abnormal and shameful, ask several friends if they ever felt nervous before they gave a talk.
  • Define Terms : When you label yourself “inferior” or “a fool” or “a loser”, ask yourself, “What is the definition of a “fool”? You will feel better when you see that there is no such thing as a “fool” or a “loser”.
  • The Semantic Method : Simply substitute language that is less colourful and emotionally loaded. This method is helpful for “should statements”. Instead of telling yourself “I shouldn’t have made that mistake,” you can say, “It would be better if I hadn’t made that mistake”.
  • Re-attribution : Instead of automatically assuming that you are “bad” and blaming yourself entirely for a problem, think about the many factors that may have contributed to it. Focus on solving the problem instead of using up all your energy blaming yourself and feeling guilty.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis : List the advantages and disadvantages of a feeling (like getting angry when your plane is late), a negative thought (like “No matter how hard I try, I always screw up”), or a behaviour pattern (like overeating and lying around in bed when you’re depressed). You can also use the Cost-Benefit Analysis to modify a self-defeating belief such as, I must always try to be perfect”.

Being aware of your negative thoughts is critical in helping you to challenge them.  One way might be to count how many times you have negative thoughts in any one day.

33 replies »

  1. Good advice. So often we don’t associate how we feel with what we are thinking, but most times our bodies and emotions are only responding to our thoughts. I believe too many people are being medicated when what they really need to do is to examine their thought life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad you liked it. It is very important to be aware and to monitor these negative thoughts. Carry a small notebook, or use your phone or tablet to keep track of every negative or sad thought that you have. You might be surprised to see how many of your thoughts are negative. Of course the fact that you are even keeping track of your thoughts can impact what you are thinking about. Thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Prerana, I am glad you liked the post. Negative automatic thoughts (NATs), as first described by Beck, are a stream of thoughts that we can notice, if we pay attention to them. They are negatively framed interpretations of what we think is happening to us. And they usually have an impact on our mood and our feelings, that isn’t positive. So in short they are really nasty!! Thank you for stopping by today.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes it’s difficult but it’s possible. Learning to ignore the voice inside our head telling us we’re not good enough, not worthy of love, and so on is what we’re here to do. Next time you have a thought that makes you feel uneasy, try this:
      Notice your thought, as in: ah, hello, thought. I know you’re not real; you are just a thought. Oh well, you can stay there if you like, but I have things to do today so I’m just going to go ahead and do them.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Prerana. I am glad you liked it. Most of us are awash with negative thoughts. Even ones that seem positive, like I’m so great because I just got a new car, are really only negative ones in disguise, since they reinforce the belief you weren’t great before you got the new car. And that’s the good news—negative thoughts are a normal part of human functioning. This means you don’t have to worry about the fact that you’re having them in the first place. No matter how gnarly they get, it’s all pretty normal.

      Like

  2. Garima, this was helpful. Often magazines that discuss mental health/self-care articles offer vague tips regarding combatting negative self talk, negative thinking and pessimism.Your article was very specific and helping people understand their thought patterns and recreate healthier thought patterns in the process. Also I appreciate you discussing gray thinking. I still tend to think in right-or-Wrong. I guess it’s the idealist in me 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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