Awareness Is Key to Killing Negative Thoughts
In order for a behavior to change, you first have to know that it exists. Many people aren’t even aware that they’re allowing their mind to fill with negative thoughts. Sometimes it’s just because they’ve done it for so long that it’s no longer registering with them.
Sometimes people think something and they don’t classify it as a negative thought because they’ve never labeled correctly. You first need to know what negative thoughts are so that you can be aware that it’s what you’re experiencing.
What Can Be Classified as a Negative Thought?
It’s important that you identity and get rid of negative thoughts because they can affect every single area of your life. Negative thoughts aren’t usually singular. They are a habit and what happens over time is that thought patterns develop much like a rut in a road.
You get stuck in that thought pattern and these thoughts aren’t cured by simply deciding that you’re done with the negativity. It also doesn’t work to try to just divert your attention some other way.
Negative thoughts are something that you must become aware of so that you can make a conscious, deliberate choice to break free of them. Once you understand what negative thoughts are, you can implement habits that will change your thinking - and in turn, change your life.
One way to become aware of negativity is to realize that they’re on repeat. Negative thoughts usually don’t make an appearance and then disappear without you ever thinking the same thing again.
It’s a thought pattern that likes to stick around. Once you become aware of them, you can then decide what you’re going to do about them. Just because you think something doesn’t mean that you have to believe it or act on it.
Negative thoughts usually paint you in an ugly light. They tell you that you can’t do something - that you’re not good at anything or that you don’t deserve to have good things happen in your life.
This negativity can be recognized by the emotions that are linked with them. They cause things like anxiety, sadness, guilt, regret or shame. Negative thoughts also teach you that whatever is on the horizon in your life is surely going to end badly.
They can cause you to spend hours, days, months or even years fretting over something that hasn’t happened and, in all likelihood, will never come to pass. Negative thoughts can cause you to miss out on all of the good that is and could be.
They can cause you to not want to take chances. Negative thoughts prevent you from living in the present and cause you to live out a life of worry and fear of failure. They also cause you to be your own worst critic.
The negativity will always shine a spotlight on your flaws and then magnify them in your mind. These thoughts then cause you to forget to love yourself, to be your own cheerleader and to believe in yourself.
How Negative Thoughts Become Self-Sabotage
It’s surprisingly and frighteningly easy how negative thoughts can morph into a case of self-sabotage. Your mind plants the seed and then you live it out. Negative thoughts aren’t just facts to you (true or not) – they impact your emotions.
What you think you believe. So, if these thoughts are telling you that you can’t do something, then you won’t. If these thoughts are telling you that you’re not qualified to make a career change, and become an online entrepreneur - then you won’t be.
Because you will give in to the fear because you’ve listened to these ideas for so long, it’s as if they hold all the truth in the world. You must become aware so that you can learn that the negative thoughts fed to you on a daily basis are just myths.
When you’re not aware of negativity, it can affect your career. It can derail productivity because it can cause you to feel like you can’t do your job. Or it can cause your mood to change and you develop a bad attitude.
This can go on without you being consciously aware. Negativity can cause you not to live in the here and now. You begin to project. You’ll think things like, “If I only had this kind of education… or, “If I only had someone else’s life, things would be easier for me.”
They can sabotage your career because you can become judgmental of yourself, others and the people you work with. Your conversation can become negative and no one likes being around an employee or coworker who’s always negative.
Negative thoughts sabotage your relationships with your family, friends and spouse. When you have negative thoughts, this can lead you to interact with people where you fail to see the good in them and you give them the same harsh view that you give yourself.
This causes people to limit time with you - or in some cases, not be around you at all. Negative thoughts also affect your health. Stress, worry, anxiety and depression are all linked with depression. Studies have shown the effect that an unhealthy mind can have on the body.
Not only can your health be affected, but so can your finances. You can get into a rut of thinking that you’re stuck and just can’t change your financial future - so you don’t make any changes and then the thoughts become sabotage by your own hand (or mind, to be more exact).
You Can Become Aware of Negative Thoughts
When you have a thought come into your mind, check to see if there’s something positive about it. Thinking that you wished you had someone else’s talent isn’t the same as you thinking that you don’t have any talent.
One is merely a silent observation. The other is a negative thought. You have to pay attention to the thoughts that stream through your mind and train yourself to disassociate how you feel and react from your thoughts.
You need to remind yourself that your thoughts are inactive. You’re the one with the power to act on them or not. Be aware that one thought is quickly followed by a second and then another.
So what you have to do is pay attention to the first thought. If it’s on a negative track, stop it before it leads to the second thought and so on. An example of this would be you thinking that you didn’t finish all of your work projects because you’re bad at time management.
That thought (whether true or not) is negative. So, then it’s followed by a second thought that you’re bad at everything. Then bad at life. And then the spiral continues. By stopping the first thought, the rest don’t have a chance to follow and you break the chain of negativity.
Because if you don’t do that, if you don’t become aware of your negative thoughts, the thinking will get worse until the negativity has taken you captive. When a thought comes to mind, stop and question the validity of it.
Just because you think something doesn’t mean that’s what the truth is. So if you have a negative thought - like you always mess everything up - ask yourself if that’s really the truth and then recall a time when you had success at something.
This works to disprove and expose the negative thought. But don’t just leave it there. A negative thought exposed will dissipate, but others will be back. Take that negative and make it a positive.
For example, if your thoughts are telling you that you don’t have what it takes to make a major change in your life, point out to yourself all the times you did make changes and look at how well those turned out.
Interrupting the Pattern of Negativity
Negativity becomes the soundtrack of your life, but you can change what’s playing in your mind. Go back over what you’ve thought about for the past day and write down how many of those thoughts were negative – or track it for the next 24 hours.
This exercise will open your eyes so you can see how much time you spend on negativity. Then you shorten that from a day to looking back over the last eight hours. Then shorten the time that you do a self-thinking check for every hour.
You’ll begin to develop the habit of catching negative thoughts because you’ll be aware of them. You’re actively sweeping your mind for them on a regular basis, like a mine field.
It’s important that if you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, that you don’t berate yourself for whatever’s gone on in your mind. That defeats the purpose and is in itself negative as well.
You can become aware by journaling what’s happened during your day and what your thoughts and emotions were regarding those events. You can stop negative thinking with awareness by refusing to engage it.
This doesn’t mean that you pretend that everything is okay in your life or that you refuse to face certain truths. Problems do occur and bad things do happen, but you don’t have to become trapped by negative thinking just because life can get a little difficult.
Become aware of the root cause of the negative thinking. Is it because you’re worrying about something that happened in the past? Ask yourself if you’re stuck on the wrong things that you’ve done, on the hurts that you’ve caused or the pain that you’ve been dealt.
Check to see if you’re caught up in negative thinking because you’re facing disappointment. You had high hopes for your life and it just hasn’t turned out the way that you’d hoped.
Maybe your negative thinking stems from the fact that you don’t know where your future is headed and uncertainty makes you nervous. You don’t know what’s going to happen with your career, with your family, or with your health.
You worry that all the goals you’ve set for yourself might be out of your reach. When your thoughts begin to look back or look ahead to the future, you can bet that negativity will try to seep into your mind.
That’s because the brain can lose focus on being mindfully present. To stop this from happening, you have to remind yourself that what’s gone on in your past is over and done with.
You also have to remind yourself that the future hasn’t happened - that all the pages on your story haven’t been written yet. Choose the focus of your mind and your thoughts will follow.
Action Steps to Prevent Negative Thoughts from Taking Control
When you’re aware that your thoughts are negative, you can stop them by deciding that your thoughts are going to focus on what builds yourself and others up. You refuse to entertain thoughts that are self-destructive in any area of your life.
You may even have to say to yourself, “I’m not going to allow myself to think this way” and then boot the thought. Sometimes mental imagery is what’s needed. You imagine your thought on a rocky cliff and you push it off into the depths of the sea below.
Your brain can be retrained once you’re aware of negative thoughts. It can be trained to look for the good and the positive in situations as well as people and to focus on what’s good about you and your life.
You can take some action steps that can help you to become aware of negative thoughts so that you can do something about them. You can take up meditation. This takes the focus off of the negative thoughts and makes sure they’re mindfully present.
You can also take up yoga if you haven’t done that yet. This exercise can help you clear your mind and relax your body. It can help you discover the peace that’s possible when you remove yourself from negativity.
Change the outward behavior, too. If you’re feeling down and grumpy and your mind is spinning full of negative thoughts, get up and get away from the spot you’re in. Even as little as five minutes doing nothing but going for a walk, or playing a brain game on your phone can be enough to derail your thoughts from the negative track.
You are the company that you keep. If the people around you are negative people, that can cause you to stay trapped in negativity. Not only that, but if negativity is all that you see and it’s the gist of all your interactions and conversations, then you won’t even be aware that it’s going on.
It becomes all you know and commonplace to you. Rephrase the negative thought. Don’t let yourself think, “I failed at this project.” Instead, think, “I’m going to learn from this experience.”
Forgive yourself for anything that keeps you stuck in the negative and move on. Life is too short to live trapped in “should have,” “could have,” “would have” - or any other self-defeating negative thought.
Keep a gratitude journal. Every morning when you wake up, write down five things that you’re grateful for. This helps you start your day off with an uplifting start with your mind focused on something positive.