“Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success.” -Charles Glassman
Guess what serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever, even though you may have a few tumbling around in your head as you read this? Yep, negative thoughts. They are wholly, entirely, overwhelmingly useless and yet we sometimes grant them way too much brain space as well as time and energy.
It’s hard not to get caught up in the drama of negative thinking.
Here are some tools to help you shut down your negative thoughts:
1. Understand that these thoughts are not permanent and can be neutralized.
Don’t attach anything to these thoughts; that gives them too much power. Instead, just sit back and watch them float through your brain. They lose all their power if you don’t engage them. One great way to do this is by distraction. Get involved with something else & you’ll boot that thought right out of your head.
2. Practice mindfulness.
It’s really not that hard; the basics are: Stop, breathe, think about your thinking. There are more methodical and formalized methods, but this is an easy one that anyone can do. Engage your mind in your mind and watch the negative thoughts creep away as you delight yourself with how awesome you are.
3. Evaluate the evidence.
If you’re thinking something like, “I’ll never have enough money,” consider doing an evaluation on paper. Draw a line down the center; on one side you can list the evidence showing that you don’t have enough money (i.e. bank account balance, asking for money from people, dipping into savings) and on the other side, write down the evidence showing that you DO have enough money: bills are paid, you have a roof over your head, food in your kitchen, gas in your car’s gas tank, etc. The evidence will be overwhelmingly in favor of the opposite of the negative thought. And if it’s not, you now have a list of concerns that you can begin to tackle.
4. Question ruminations.
When we ruminate, we are overthinking something. These overthinking patterns grow quickly into totally negative thoughts. What to do about them? Try questioning your ruminations, on paper. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. In one column write “thought” and in the other “solution”. When you start ruminating write down the time in the “thought” column and anything of use to counter that thought into the “solution” column. At the end of a day or week or fortnight or month or whatever you decide, count up the number of times you ruminated and evaluate the solutions. Is anything helpful? If not, perhaps going back to basics will help…
5. …by simply observing the thought.
Again, don’t engage and don’t do anything with it, just kind of watch it float through. Negative thoughts are mostly a product of cognitive distortions, which are irrational thought patterns. In order to disempower those thoughts, you’ve got to act like they’re not even there or have nothing to do with you.