June 22, 2016

Do Negative Thoughts Get Stuck in Your Head? 5 Ways to Get Them Out

Written by Rachel Eddins

woman having negative thoughts

We’ve all heard the saying “we’re our own worst critic,” and in most cases it couldn’t be more true. Most of us have negative thoughts, and this is normal. Having negative thoughts isn’t the problem, the problem is that we start believing them.

Get those negative thoughts out of your head! Here’s how to get them unstuck:

1) “I’m thinking ____”

You are not your thoughts. It’s important to dissociate yourself from your thoughts. Many times we end up telling ourselves the same sob stories… our “incompetent story” or our “failure story.” When we acknowledge that our thoughts are just that, thoughts, it helps us to regain our center and dissociate ourselves from our negative thinking.

2) Train your brain

One of the biggest problems with negative thinking is that it’s hard to stop it once it starts. So, you need to train your brain to to take things in a different direction when you feel the negative thoughts coming on.

One of the best ways to do this is by going on an imaginary shopping trip. Most of us go food shopping frequently, so this a good one to imagine. if this doesn’t apply to you, think of clothes or office supplies shopping, whatever you relate to most. Be as specific as you can, picturing the items on the shelves and their order. You can also start of with something less imaginative if that’s easier for you, like reading the order of books on your bookshelf.

Try this for about a minute. Do it every time you feel negative thoughts coming your way. Yes, every single time! If you train your brain into thinking in these patterns, you’ll be able to get your thoughts to go in a different, more positive direction.

Dwelling on our mistakes is not the right way to learn from them because it doesn’t allow us to move forward and actually make better choices in similar situations going forward. Yes, our mistakes can make us feel terrible, but we can’t rewind and undo the past. Life is a journey. We’re all on a quest to be our best selves. When we are generous with ourselves (and others!), negative thoughts won’t have the power to grip us and hold us back.3) Treat your mistakes as learning opportunities

4) Get out of your mental comfort zone

Pessimists and negative-thinkers will often say that they are realists. But this is really just a cover for being afraid of failure. If you think you will not do well at something and don’t even try, you can’t say that you failed. But you also can’t say that you gave it your best. Stuck in this mental-comfort zone, it seems more important to be “right” by being correct in your negative prediction than taking a chance on something and succeeding, or being “wrong.”

In other words, your negative thinking is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Get out there and try things even if you might fail. It can be a little scary, but at the end of the day, at least you tried. Which is better than not trying at all.

5) Stop with the generalizations

You don’t “never do anything right.” After all, you got out of bed today. You probably correctly put on your shoes. You properly fastened your seatbelt. You had good manners by saying “thank you” to the person who took your coffee order, and were a good citizen by holding the door for someone with their hands full. But doing all those things don’t make you feel like a superhero, do they? So then why should doing one or two things wrong one time make you feel like a loser?

You’re not stupid just because you bombed one test. It just means you know to study harder for the next one. Get tutoring if you’re not understanding the material as well as you thought. Give yourself a break if you were sick and didn’t sleep well the night before. Try not to think in generalizations or extremes, it doesn’t really show you a comprehensive picture. There’s nothing constructive accomplished by spreading the negativity outside of a single incident that went poorly.

Persistent negative thoughts can be a sign of an anxiety disorder, depression, trauma, or persistent shame. A therapist in Houston can help you cope with negative thinking, and recover a sense of peace again. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.



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