Do you struggle with persistent negative thoughts? Although negative thinking is a common problem for us all, when it turns into automatic negative thoughts that are prolonged, your quality of life could drastically improve by addressing and decreasing them.
We all go through many life challenges, and the depth of those experiences can sometimes be overwhelming. Even so, one of the most significant determiners of a happy and fulfilled life or the opposite comes down to the way we think about ourselves and circumstances. Much of the pain we experience is self-inflicted due to our negative internal dialogues, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Negative thinking patterns can be gradually changed and replaced with more accurate and helpful ones, leading to significant life improvement. There are a variety of valuable strategies for overcoming negative thoughts that you can try. Here are some ideas on how to stop negative thinking if it’s been a struggle for you lately.
Observe Your Inner Thoughts
Most negative thoughts happen automatically because they’ve become such a habit. Look for what triggers your negative mindset. Is it primarily a specific aspect of your life, such as your career, relationship, dating life, or appearance? Or, do you ruminate about the past, including missed opportunities or bad things that happened to you? You may also discover that “All I have are negative thoughts.”
By understanding what triggers your inner critic, you’ll better equip yourself to stand up to it. You don’t have to take the inner critic’s comments at face value–You can challenge them.
Reframing Negative Thoughts from Your Inner Critic
We all deal with an inner critic which may be our most significant obstacle to overcome in life. There’s a reason why the saying, “I’m my own worst enemy,” is such a common phrase because it’s too often true. No one thinks about ourselves as much as we do. And no one puts ourselves down as much as we do either.
But this doesn’t have to be accepted. If we want to live mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy lives, the internal negativity we allow to persist about ourselves needs to stop.
Once you’ve investigated your thoughts and source of negativity, look for common themes in your thought patterns. Then, reframe those negative thoughts, finding a realistic and optimistic rebuttal.
Write your reframed thoughts down on flashcards and regularly review them. In time, you’ll build up the habit of using these rebuttals to your inner critic, even if you don’t have what you wrote in front of you. After regularly silencing your inner critic, you won’t need to challenge it as much. Next, you can go beyond simply reframing negative thoughts, and challenge them with actions that go against what your inner critic tells you.
Taking Action Against Your Inner Critic
It’s crucial to take action along with reframing your negative thoughts into something more accurate and helpful. Take steps that challenge your internal negative dialogue once you notice ways it’s holding you back.
In her “Psychology Today” article entitled How Negative Thoughts Are Ruining Your Life, Lisa Firestone Ph.D. shares the following:
“The way to do this is by becoming aware of and not listening to these thoughts, cultivating self-compassion, and acting against the directives of your inner critic, not allowing this internal enemy to control your life.”
There’s something powerful about doing what your inner critic tells you not to when you know that rebelling against that negative narrative would be in your best interest. It gives you the strength to change the most negative areas of your life. And as that happens, the inner critic starts to have less to throw in your face.
Cultivate a State of Gratitude
For most if not all of us, gratitude isn’t a natural response to life’s circumstances. It’s way easier to focus on the aspects of our lives we don’t like or appreciate. Still, a vital part of how to change negative thinking comes down to growing your ability to show gratitude.
Once you stop negative thoughts, you’ll need to replace them with something better. There are several ways you can do this, including making a gratitude list or journal. You can also let others in your life know how much you appreciate them. Also, if you value spirituality, you can express that gratitude to a higher power.
Counseling Can Help with Your Negative Thoughts
If you struggle with constant negative thoughts and have for quite some time, this can be a tough battle to fight on your own. Working with an experienced stress counselor will allow you to see faster progress as you learn to change your thinking towards a more positive outlook.
Also, sometimes a mental health condition like an anxiety or depressive disorder is the primary underlying reason for your negativity. Until treatment of that condition occurs, it will be challenging to practice self-improvement techniques to decrease your negativity. Just know there is hope for you, and your life will drastically improve once you learn to eliminate and replace those negative thoughts!
The OC Relationship Center can assist you with your therapy needs, including if you struggle with constant negative thoughts. Please consider reaching out to us or scheduling an appointment.