5 Powerful Ways to Stop Negative Thinking
I’m just going to come out and say it: I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life. It’s not a glamorous, happy, or even easy topic to talk about, but it’s one I’m very passionate about because I’ve struggled for so long alone that I want to help and support others going through it, too.
One of the most haunting aspects of anxiety and depression is the constant flow of negative thoughts, which are incredibly damaging to feelings of self-worth and self-love. If left unchecked, these negative thoughts have the power to create turmoil in your body and cause a feeling of isolation, fear, and hopelessness. Often times these thoughts have rationale behind them, but they somehow seduce you into believing that they are true.
Whether you have battled with anxiety and/or depression or you’re simply looking for ways to live a more mindful, positive life, use these five tips that I’ve put into action in my own life that will help you feel happier and keep negative thinking at bay:
Shut it down + focus on the now
I’m sure we’ve all heard how crucial it is to live in the moment and live for today. We can understand the importance, but it truly is easier said than done.
One day I got sucked into the Internet (not literally of course, although that would be an interesting experience) and started researching different techniques to help me quiet sad and fearful thoughts with regards to past events or worry about the future. About a gazillion articles later, I read about this method of quieting negative self-talk by simply saying something out loud to shut it down, as to remind your brain that you’re conscious of your thoughts.
Now, anytime I think negative thoughts I say out loud, “Not helpful”. Saying this immediately shuts down the negativity. I make it clear to myself that there is no space within me for doubt, stress, anxiety, sadness, or anger.
Although I recognize that these are natural emotions that I do give myself permission to experience, I no longer allow myself to linger in the past or fret about what’s to come. I realized that by letting my mind live in the past or the future, I’m taking power away from myself. I cannot change what has happened and I cannot control what is to come.
Now, instead of stressing about the past or future, I say out loud, “this cannot hurt you” which is a gentle reminder that I am safe from any negativity and I will be okay.
Be very aware any negative thoughts you're having, shut them down quickly, and shift your focus to the present for peace of mind.
Negative thoughts often highlight what we feel is lacking from our lives that we wish we could attain. However, coming from a place of lack is detrimental to feelings of wholeness and security.
I’m starting to learn that if you flip these thoughts into affirmations, then you will reassure yourself that you are not lacking in anything, rather you are living in abundance and are taken care of.
Here are some of my favorite affirmations that I repeat to myself when I am feeling low. I encourage you to create your own affirmations that uplift you and support your journey to happy:
I am enough
I am loved
I am rich
I am beautiful
I am special
I am secure
I am strong
When you start to notice any feelings of lack, affirm and assure yourself that you are more than okay. Tell yourself the things that you know you need to hear. Remember, you are your biggest support system!
Emphasize the positive
Negative thoughts are loud. They are consuming and constant. They have the ability to make you forget about all of the good that surrounds you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of how bad everything feels, but you have to learn to push through and focus on the positive.
The times I would allow my depression to get really bad are the times when I could only see the darkness. I know, I sound like such a drama queen (insert eye roll here), but it’s unfortunately true. The only way I could get myself out of that dark space was when I became ultra aware of the positive things that are in my life.
It usually comes down to appreciating the littlest and simplest things, things that a lot of us often overlook. Sometimes the little things put the biggest smile on your face.
By shifting our mindset from what has gone wrong to everything that has gone right, we can set ourselves up for success in living joyfully.
Get to the root of your negativity
One of the most important lessons I recently learned is to not lump every bad thing together. A bad moment does not mean a bad life. One sad experience does not mean that you will be sad forever.
For the past few months, I have been feeling very down and I let myself feel this way without asking, “Why?” Not until I questioned my deep sense of sadness was I able to fully understand what was actually bothering me. PS. Money and security were at the root of everything, so I know now that I need to add more stability and consistency in my life to counterbalance my financial based fears.
It’s crucial to become clear about where your negative thoughts are coming from. Though most negative thoughts are not rational, they normally have an origin and stem from a worry or fear.
This one is simple: say thank you for everything that you have, for the person that you are, for the people in your life, and for the experiences you have been given.
At the end of each night, I say out loud three things that I am glad happened that day. They normally are very small things, such as I’m happy the sun came out or that I was able to talk to my parents on the phone.
I encourage you to take it one step further and write down the three things you are grateful for that day. Journaling has been said to be a powerful tool in helping with anxiety and depression, as well as making us more aware of the positives in our lives. It’s something I have just started to do, but I can already feel the release of happiness I get from writing everything down that made me smile that day.
Find beauty in the experiences and interactions you have each and every day. Gratitude goes a long way in helping stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Plus, there's so much to be thankful for when you really think about it!
I would love to hear what tips + tricks you have for tackling negative thoughts and if you’ve tried any of the methods I listed! Leave me a comment here or connect with me online (@xoalwaysrae).