Our thoughts are one of the most powerful parts of our being. In fact, they control what we eat, how we dress, who we choose to love—our entire outlook on life. Thoughts can be positive, negative, or neutral. Sometimes your thoughts are just stating facts.
No matter how successful, attractive, smart or wealthy we think someone may be–we have all experienced the negative thoughts. They may start out small but if you aren’t careful, they can slowly start to alter your way of life.
Here are a few negative thoughts that have crept into my mind.
1. I’m inadequate (not beautiful, not smart, not successful). There was a time where I just felt like I wasn’t as pretty as the girls on Instagram. I felt like I didn’t have what it takes to be in a leadership role. I was OK in a lot of areas but never great enough.
2. I’m not strong enough. Throughout life’s low moments there were times I just didn’t feel like I had the strength to make it through. (But I’m still standing and stronger than ever)
3. I can’t do it. Sometimes tasks are put in front of me and I feel like I just can’t do it. It feels impossible.
4. No one cares. Have you ever been going through something whether good or bad and you feel like no one cares? You just feel like, why should I share this moment or these feelings because no one wants to hear what I have to say.
5. I’m not worthy. Whether it be a great spouse or partner, healthy children, or a promotion from work, sometimes there are moments where I don’t feel worthy.
All these thoughts are terrible. If a friend told me they were thinking these things, it would break my heart. But the sad truth is that many of us have experienced moments like these. We can’t stop the negative thoughts, but we can slow them down and learn to manage them.
If we do not take control of them, these negative thoughts could lead to horrible actions. When they become too much to handle, some find coping mechanisms to divert their attention from these thoughts.
Some choose to bury themselves into work or their relationships. For others, it has also led to more severe actions including overeating, or not eating at all. Binge drinking or substance abuse, and even death. This is how powerful thoughts are. But do not fear! I have broken down a few techniques that will help. Some of which I practice regularly.
NOTE: If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts please seek a therapist or other expert advice.
Techniques to Manage Negative Thoughts
Take a Break
This technique is an effort to separate from your negative thoughts. When these thoughts start to flow, allow yourself a certain amount of time to think about them. Give them a little attention (No more than 2 to 5 minutes). Then, release that thought and move on from it.
As we judge ourselves and/or others, with negative thoughts we must remember that these thoughts are not uncommon. We live in a time where multiple images of the “perfect” person, job, or life is on constant repeat. For example, you may become jealous of someone on social media, so you begin to think negative thoughts about them or ourselves in comparison. Like her hair is too long or his teeth are too white, or I wish I looked like her. Recognize that you had a negative thought and replace it by thinking of a positive quality about that person or yourself. This is the technique that I use most.
Write it Down
Simply write that thought down on paper and throw it in the trash– where it belongs.
Think of the one who is speaking those negative thoughts, as an actual person. Give her or him a name. For example, name her Bertha and when she starts saying negative things then talk back to her. Speak aloud and tell her that you don’t believe the things she is saying or challenge her when she says you can’t do something. I don’t advise screaming at her/him in public 😉
Here’s an example:
Bertha: You should not create that blog. No one cares what you have to say. No one will read it.
You: Hush Bertha! Writing makes me feel good and I take that as a challenge. I will write and as I write it will get better and it will connect with someone. Watch Me!
Take a few moments and just breathe. Be kind to yourself. That thought is NOT truth.
I believe most of our thoughts are formed in our early stages of life. They are based from how we grew up and what we witnessed as children or as young adults. Maybe you experienced or witnessed verbal abuse in your childhood home or in a toxic relationship. Or, you might be able to recall some harsh words said to you from kids at school when you were younger.
Unfortunately, these images and words don’t disappear as we grow older. In fact, if we never deal with them, they start to spill over and repeat in our daily lives. Moving these negative thoughts from our mind creates more room to for positive thoughts to take hold. This can not be achieved overnight, but with practice. Overtime you will realize the power you have over your life and begin being the person you were always meant to be.
I know you can do it! Don’t let your past stunt your growth. Decide today who you want to be and start living it now.