Negative thinking also known as ‘Automatic Negative Thoughts’ in the world of psychology are all those thoughts of self-doubt and fear that unconsciously arise. Even the best of the best have their moments. We tell ourselves “I’m not good enough”, it’s seemingly a small thought, but for those who are totally unaware we do it so often that we tend to believe it. And constant negative thinking can lead to depression and are less successful in their personal and professional life. Before hitting ‘rock bottom’ take these three steps to stop negative thinking taking over your life.
1. Record Your Negative Thinking
Since negative thinking automatically pops up without much of a thought process recording it allows for us to truly analysis and rationalize such thoughts. For the next week record each and every instance of your negative thoughts. To thoroughly track, answer these following questions:
- When does it happen?
- What triggers it?
- How often does it happen?
- Do you see a reacquiring pattern? And
- What do you say?
2. Label Each Negative Thought
For every negative thought, for the majority they can be placed amongst one of these categories (mentioned below). Each category sums up what your negative thought comes down to. And in doing so helps you to distinguish when they occur and make you aware that at the end of the day you know it’s really not the truth of who you are; since there is no real fact to support these thoughts.
3. Replace Negative Thinking
Replace the ‘negative’ with the ‘positive’. You will need to force this upon yourself (since it’s not a habit yet) though over time the positive thinking will naturally replace the negative. One way which can help you get through this is to imagine you are your very best friend. As we usually try to be kind and uplift our best friends in need. Notice when you think in a positive light you’ll eventually believe it, and because you believe it you then create good action and experience positive results.
Automatic Negative Thoughts Categories
Black and White Thinking:
Black and white thinking tends to be either one way or the other. You see yourself as either good or bad at something. It becomes negative thinking when you face failure and you believe that that’s the end of the world for you.
“I’m going to fail completely”
In the positive instance, though faced with failure you know you have a second chance. And when there’s no opportunity for a second chance, you then have options. And no matter how many failure there are you will still get up and find a way around it.
Mind Reading Others:
Somehow you have this ‘super power’ to read others minds 🙂 . You tend to jump to conclusions though in reality it may not be what you had believed, thought and felt was true. Thus, you make assumptions when you don’t know the full extent of the ‘story’. And not to mention this one can drive you crazy as you always think that everyone has some type of issue with you.
“They must all think I’m boring.”
In the positive instance, give yourself a chance, maybe they were busy or didn’t even cross their minds. And most importantly, listen to what they have to say. Also, ask open questions to help extract further information and for clarification.
You never whole-heartily give something a try because you have already given up before even giving it a shot. Crystal-ball gazing also suggests that you have already predicted the future result which always happens to be in a negative sense.
“I shouldn’t even bother, it won’t work out anyway.”
In the positive instance, try it out, you never know how it will actually work out at the end until you try it for yourself.
“I’ll give it a shot”
You throw out all your positives out the door. Because at one point of your life you had failed and promptly use it to depict every aspect of your life. It’s like you are good for nothing. Now that can’t be right, can it?
“Well I failed that test, I’m useless at everything”
“So I failed that test, I need to now know where I went wrong and do better next time”
Minimize or Bar Positive Feedback:
You have achieved something good, you see it and others may do even to the point of complimenting you. However, you disregard it all together as just any old thing that anyone could easily do too. You may even suggest it’s something that doesn’t need any praise or celebration for.
“Yeah I can cook but anyone could have done that too”
“Hey thanks, I loved how it worked out quite well”
Playing the Victim:
Life is just never fair and all your failures are because of it.
“I never went to a good school because life is not fair.”
Instead, you don’t need to give any reason for it. That’s just how the cookie crumbled. And hey any ‘setback’ doesn’t mean it should define who you are. There are many examples of people were less fortunate yet still made it far in life. Have you, heard of Bill Gate? What it really took was a well-developed personality.
Call Yourself and Others Names:
Have the urge to call everyone any negative name under the moon?Notice what it does to you? Your overall mood is feeling low. It can all come down to you never highlighting the good you could have seen in them including yourself.
“…” (Replace it with no name calling at all). Or even better praise such as “I’m awesome”.
All bad things that happen and it’s your entire fault. Your child failed at school, you are no longer friends with someone or simply some stranger gave you a crossed look. Is this really true, all just because of you? Well, examine it. There must have been other things that could have contributed too.
“S/he broke up with and it’s all my fault”
“Our relationship didn’t work out, it was just meant to be and that’s ok”
Your mindset is focused on telling and making yourself believe that you will fail. Rather using that same energy into preparing and performing the task at hand. Therefore, the chance of you failing is quite high since you set yourself up for it.
“I’m going to fail”
“I’m going to try my very best, study a month before the test and give it my all”
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Until next time