In this post you’ll find a few tips on how to control negative thoughts.
Thinking is one of the most common and so in the background things that there are in life. Meaning that it is one of the things we spend most of our waking time doing, and yet, we barely pay attention to it, and how it influences our lives. The thing about the power of thought is that just like an investment today, it has an effect on the future. This effect creates a self-reinforcing loop in the sense that what we do today is a product of something we did yesterday, and what we will do tomorrow is largely a product of what we will do today. The same applies to thought. The kinds of thoughts we think today make some future outcomes more likely than others, and the ones that gain this advantage, by themselves play a role in making the overall newly formed pattern of our life more likely in the long term big picture future. In essence, what we think today, is likely to be what we think about tomorrow, and what we think about tomorrow is more likely to be what we think about in a month from now, three months from now, six, nine, and in the end of the day, also what we think about on the course of our lifetime.
The world has awaken for this fact of life, and more and more people now look for ways to take control over this semi-automatic process that we call thought, since either we want or not, we always think about something as long as we’re awake. If we take a step forward we can claim that dreams themselves are the mind’s way of thinking while we sleep, which makes taking control over the kinds of music and sounds we’re exposed to while we sleep doubly important.
How to control negative thoughts
Negative thoughts are in general the most common kind of thoughts people tend to have. The reason why this is the case can be easily explained through the old theory of evolution. If we think of pessimism and comfort as polar opposites, we can see that the kind of people who’s always waiting for something bad to happen is more likely to be the person who is ready when something bad really does happen, and as a result the one who’s more likely to pass his/her genes forward.
The problem with chronic negativity is that it quickly wears you off. Soon you become depressed, and even when there is plenty of reasons to have a positive outlook in a situation, being negative in any shape or form becomes what we call “comfort food” for the mind. You feel at ease when you worry, and you worry when you feel the slightest feeling of happiness or relaxation. As you know, this is not a good way of living life, and so if you want to learn to manage your negativity, below are a few ideas.
1.Don’t run force them out
When faced with a problem, the human’s way of dealing with it tends to be by brute force. If we look deeply into this tendency we quickly find that it is pretty much a product of our primitive brains. We have to make some effort to think logically about a problem, and when this approach fails we quickly revert to the old way of doing things. We find it easier to muscle our way into conflicts, and the extent to which we keep going is directly related to the level of our ability to persist.
The truth is that although not always efficient, often it is the case that something will give in for a sustained attack to it. Negative thoughts on the other hand, tend to have a more counter intuitive reaction to this kind of approach. In essence, as you’ve probably noticed at some point or another, the more you try to push a negative thought away, the more it takes control over your mind. Here force is not the answer.
There are two approaches you can take, if you want to make a direct attack to negative thoughts. The first is to replace them with their polar opposite. Instead of trying to not think you’re not good enough, the strategy is to remind yourself of the moments you accomplished something, no matter how small, with the assumption that if you were able to accomplish something small you definitely can accomplish something small but with a small increase in difficulty, and on and on, until what you call small, really is huge in the eyes of others.
The second strategy is to let the negativity in and through small exposures, become desensitized to it. This can be a dangerous strategy at times specially if you’re going through a rough time in life, since it’s at these times that the mind finds it easier to think only about the worst things. So, use it with caution. Use it in the way you would if you wanted to develop a tolerance to some poison over time. The trick is to let the negativity in small dosages, and not these small dosages beat you down, then increasing them until the whole is as manageable as a weight for which your muscles are conditioned to is.
2.Find the root cause
This is probably the one thing I find the most effective on my efforts to control and defeat negative thoughts. At the essence of any negative or positive thought lies some seed of truth. When we feel sad, we feel so for a reason. When we feel happy and confident, we feel so for a reason. We tend to think that feelings of insecurity and confidence come out of nowhere. Just like the weather it is true that we can’t predict our moods in a moment by moment basis, but overall we can. That’s why we take the concept of seasons for granted. Yes it’s difficult to predict how warm the day that comes 3 months and 2 days from now be with exact detail, but overall we can make a pretty good estimate of the possible ranges of temperatures.
Our day to day moods can be affected by a variety of things. From a bad/good night of sleep, to the fact that you were temporarily exposed to mouldy air and you weren’t aware of it. But overall, the picture is different. Our mood in the course of days, weeks, months and years can be thought of as deterministic. Think of it as a general mood of your life. Almost like the seasons in a year the way you go about living your life can give us a pretty good estimate of the kinds of thoughts you’ll have rolling around in your head. We can’t predict the exact thoughts and detail, but the overall umbrella can be crystal clear.
So, the idea here is to find the root cause of any and all negative thoughts that go through your head. You might be feeling depressed not because you are wired for depression, but because you feel insecure about your accomplishments in life. You might feel insecure about your accomplishments in life because you didn’t put enough effort into learning the things you have to learn, or into trying exhaustively the whole array of possibilities that life presents. Which means that you feel depressed because you haven’t being work hard enough, and a part of subconscious mind needs you to do something about it, and its way of urging you to action is by feelings of worthlessness and anxiety. Think about it, if you’ve had any of the feelings above before, chances are that after taking action they either decreased in intensity, or vanished completely. So, resist the urge to take the first explanation for your negative thoughts that come to mind at face value, and when you do find the root cause of your negativity, do something about it.
3. Check your surroundings
Sometimes negativity is one of these outside coming in kind of things. Meaning that we tend to assume that because the thoughts roll around in our heads, then they must have been originated in our heads. This is true some of the times, but some not at all negligible times, this negativity we so desperately try to control comes from the outside. The people who we spend most of our time around, who with or without our permission download their negativity to us, are often the reason why we feel the way we feel.
If you notice that this is the case, then for the sake of your own mental and spiritual health take the necessary steps to minimize if not completely eliminate the time you spend around that kind of people. You’ll know you’ve been around that kind of person when more often than not you leave any encounters with them feeling depressed, demotivated, or with some feeling of negativity no matter how small.
4.Check on your chemistry
Sometimes negativity is not just a mental kind of matter. Sometimes negativity and depression are nothing but our body’s way of telling us that it is undergoing some sort of chemical imbalance. This is an explanation of last resort when all possible attempts to understand why you feel negative fail. This is why, if you think this might be the case, the way to go is not to read blog posts, or books on what medicine to take to make you are more positive person, but to consult a doctor.
The starting point should be to make sure you eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis. You should also make sure you have always have a good night sleep, and if the thoughts are numerous, borderlining on depression then you should consult a physician. If there is some sort of chemical imbalance they should be able to tell you about it, and give the best advice on how to best manage/improve it.
The last thing to think about is whether you really want to remove all negativity and pessimism from your life. Like anything in life, negativity and pessimism have their own role to play. They keep us grounded, and help us take the necessary steps to prevent catastrophic outcomes.
Think about the idea of constructive criticism for example. Like any other form of criticism this is an assault to an idea you might have. The good thing about it is that it helps you sharpen your reasoning and your beliefs, in a way that it brings you closer to the truth. The point is to before removing any and all forms of negativity from your life, to think about their underlining effect/role. Are they enforcing growth, or leading you to a path of destruction?
It is all about knowledge and experience 😉
Leave a comment below