How to Deal with Negative Thoughts
Your internal communication, especially regarding the way you talk to yourself, shapes your mood. That means it can sink your emotional state even further when you criticize yourself. On the flip side, though, it can also save you during hard times when you speak kindly to yourself. That’s why it’s so useful to learn how to deal with negative thoughts.
The way you deal with negative thoughts influences how you perceive and interpret the events around you. Furthermore, it influences how you behave when faced with a certain situation. For example, let’s say you have to give a work presentation. If you keep thinking that it’s going to go badly, your lack of confidence might affect you.
Psychiatrist Aaron Temkin Beck argued that your negative thoughts sabotage the best parts of yourself. Furthermore, if you don’t control them, they end up turning you into an insecure and anxious person. This, in turn, will spawn even more negative thoughts. It isn’t easy to escape this vicious cycle in which negative thoughts keep springing up again and again.
This could end up turning into a snowball that keeps growing and growing. Eventually, you may even lose control of it. You’ll start to ruminate on the negative thoughts and they’ll drain your energy. How can you stop them?
How to deal with negative thoughts
Your internal dialogue, what people usually call “thinking”, is nothing more than the conversations you have with yourself. And those ongoing conversations influence the way you deal with the rest of the world around you. Also, they have a powerful impact on how you treat yourself.
As such, the way you talk to yourself (thoughts) is a form of communication. It’s just like having a conversation with another person.
Internal communication involves many thoughts. Some of them are positive, while others are negative. Your mind pays more attention to those it considers most important. Also, it spends more time thinking about them. That’s how negative thoughts can reign over your mind. They could even become like roadblocks that don’t allow other types of thoughts to flow through.
Keep in mind that criticizing yourself has the same effect as if someone close to you was doing it. For example, if a family member kept telling you that you were dumb, useless, and couldn’t do anything right, how would you feel?
It’s worth noting that the bad feelings you experience when someone directs negative comments at you could happen in much the same way as when you do it to yourself. They turn into obsessive thoughts and rumination that affect your energy.
How can you manage negative thoughts?
The University of Rhode Island conducted a study on negative thoughts that was published in the journal Psychology and Aging. This particular study focused on discovering how negative thoughts affect each age group.
The results showed that age doesn’t matter when it comes to negative thinking. That’s because these thoughts create anxiety and often pave the way for various mental diseases, regardless of age. The experts found that they affect both young people and older people in the same way.
Negative emotions could make you feel frustrated or generally bad. If you don’t control this negative thinking pattern, you might end up leaving the door open to depression and anxiety.
That’s why it’s critical for you to learn to manage these thoughts. Below, we describe certain ways to fight those negative thoughts.
Identify your negative thoughts
Sometimes, you’re not even aware of the ideas that go around in your head. By extension, you don’t have any idea how they affect you. Sometimes, you may even think that the sudden thoughts that pop up in your mind are true even when they don’t come close to reflecting your reality.
In order to identify them better, you can try to become aware of your most common negative thoughts. Consider what you say to yourself, how you say it, and when you say it. Writing them down can prove helpful.
Afterward, reflect on the course of those thoughts. This includes thinking about their origin, the number of times they repeat themselves, and their consequences. Do this from the standpoint of an external observer. If a friend were to tell you they have those negative thoughts, what would you say to them? This might help you see things from a different perspective.
Likewise, it’s also important to accept them. Accept that these types of thoughts are necessary in certain circumstances. Don’t forget that always trying to block, avoid, or eliminate them can make them flourish instead.
Reshape your thoughts
After identifying these thoughts, you can try reshaping them. That will help you slowly start to think in a more realistic and positive way. In order to do this, ask yourself:
- What are other ways of interpreting these thoughts?
- Could there be other more realistic, logical, and positive interpretations? It might be helpful for you to make a list.
After questioning each negative thought, it’s time to start introducing alternatives to your mind. These should be equally applicable to the situation, but more positive, realistic, and adaptive. The idea isn’t to eliminate negative thoughts but to change their focus. You have to learn to question them so they can start to lose their influence over your mind.
Learning to manage your negative thoughts is a process that takes a lot of time, practice, and consistency.
Boost your self-esteem
Low self-esteem can sometimes unleash negative thoughts as a result of insecurity and low self-confidence. It can make you constantly doubt yourself and what you’re doing, which can lead to negative thoughts.
Another starting point could also be to think about your self-concept. Consider whether it influences how you deal with negative thoughts.It might interest you...