Susan applied for a job at a local shopping center. She knows she has the qualifications necessary, but she’s concerned the interviewer will want to know about the gap in her resume.
She starts to think about how maybe she shouldn’t have applied and that she shouldn’t go to the interview. She starts to worry that her references will turn against her and give her bad reviews.
Susan never went to that interview and has convinced herself she isn’t worthy of any job, so she doesn’t apply to others. Her life takes a turn for the worse.
What happened to Susan isn’t uncommon. Negative thoughts can creep into your mind and change the way you view the world around you. For some, negative thoughts are so intense that coping with and suppressing them is a challenge.
What Causes Negative Thoughts?
Negative thoughts are part of the natural thought process, and negative terminology is more common than positive terminology in languages around the world. Participants in this study, cited by Psychology Today, were asked to write down all the emotions they could think of at the moment. The lists from participants were compiled and showed:
- 50% were negative
- 30% were positive
- 20% were neutral
Your negative thoughts might be traced back to a mental health condition, such as generalized anxiety disorder or depression. Drug use and similar factors can sometimes have an impact on this. In some cases, negative thought disorder is a matter of habit.
Working to find the underlying cause of your negative thoughts can help you address these problems. This is part of a comprehensive approach to moving beyond the negative thought cycle. You may also find that other techniques work to stop them.
How to Stop Negative Thoughts
There are many options to consider when you’re trying to stop the cycle of negative thinking disorder. Not all of these work for everyone, so find the ones that work for you and use them as needed.
Find a Present Focus
There’s always something positive you can focus on. Thinking about these positives can help you pull yourself out of a negative mindset. Take stock of positives, such as your talents and abilities, so you can draw on them when you need to.
You may also find “grounding” helpful when negative thoughts creep in. Grounding involves finding things around you that you can focus on so you can break the negative thinking pattern. It utilizes the senses to bring you back to the current physical reality. This is especially helpful for people who live with anxiety. With grounding, you find:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Write Everything Down
Write your negative thoughts down. Doing so allows you to read through them and address them one at a time. The goal here is to come up with a way that you can flip a negative thought into a positive one so you’re able to focus on the upside.
As an example, if you think none of your friends really want to spend time with you, you can counter that thought by writing down times when they’ve asked you to do something with them.
Stop the “Should” Phrases
Many negative thoughts start with “I should” followed by something you feel bad that you didn’t do. Even if you need to do these things, take away that “I should” and replace it with something actionable. For some individuals, “should” has a negative connotation because it’s associated with guilt. It usually isn’t hard to remove that troublesome phrase. For example, “I should eat healthier” can become “I will eat healthier” instead. This gives you an actionable plan and takes away the guilt trigger.
Talk About Your Thoughts
Find someone with a positive mindset you can talk to when you’re thinking negative thoughts. This person may be your therapist or someone who’s trained in how to treat negative thinking disorder. You should trust the person you choose, and they should be available when you need help the most.
Because most individuals can’t be present around the clock, you may need to find more than one person to talk to. Support groups are another good option, since you can learn what other people do to deal with negative thinking disorder.
No one’s going to have a perfect life all the time. Even people who seem like they have everything together have challenges. In order to get beyond a negative mindset, you have to realize that challenges can make you stronger. Things that aren’t perfect give you a chance to enjoy the ones that are perfect.
When you give up having to be a perfect human, you’ll likely notice that some anxiety and negative thoughts disappear. You can work on improving the areas you feel need to get better. Take things slow with this process so you don’t become frustrated with yourself. Set small goals that propel you toward reaching larger goals.
Take a Timeout
Taking a timeout might help you when you’re facing negative thoughts. When you start to think about something negative, stop what you’re doing and refocus your efforts. Use this time to take some deep breaths. This timeout is a chance for you to think about the good job you’re doing now instead of the negative things that won’t happen.
Sometimes, a change of scenery is beneficial when you’re facing negative thoughts. Take a walk outside for some fresh air and sunshine. If it’s raining or you can’t get outside, head to a window to look out and enjoy the beauty of the scenery around you.
Speak in a Positive Way
Some people react to positive words. Keep a few positive mantras close by, or memorize them so you can speak them when you start to feel yourself slipping into a negative frame of mind. The goal is to get your mind to turn away from negative thoughts.
You can also start your day off with positive mantras. Choose ones that speak to you that you can easily apply to your life. For example, “I will be a positive role model today” or “I will accomplish my goals today” may help to start your day off right.
Get Help for Negative Thinking Disorder
Learning how to stop negative thoughts and turn them into realistic ones can help you see the bright side of life again. Negative thinking disorder often requires professional help to overcome thought patterns that are dramatically impacting your life. Contact FHE’s compassionate counselors at (833) 596-3502 to learn how we can help.