Learning to Challenge Negative Thoughts

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What are negative thoughts? Well, they are exactly as they sound. Negative thoughts are a form of unhealthy self-talk, even if they aren’t about ourselves, and they can quickly consume all of our thoughts.

Negative thoughts are bound to happen every once in a while, especially during periods of depression or stress. If you find yourself struggling with negative thought patterns more often than not, there are steps you can take that will help identify the root cause and decrease them altogether.

Speak to yourself as if you were speaking to a friend

Think of yourself as your own friend. You wouldn’t berate your friend for making small mistakes, so why would you do it to yourself? You wouldn’t call your friend lazy when they are experiencing depression and having trouble caring for their mental health, so why would you say it to yourself? You would never tell a friend that they’re stupid, that they don’t look good, that they’re bad at their job or that they’re a bad friend, and you should never talk to yourself that way.

Instead of criticizing yourself, focus on paying yourself compliments. Cheer yourself on every single day. You have always done at least one thing worth celebrating.

Reframe your thinking in such a way that would support a healthy relationship with yourself. Every time you find yourself thinking a negative thought about yourself, repeat this mantra, “Don’t talk about my friend like that.”

Meditate, practice mindfulness, and accept the negative thoughts

Being mindful of your feelings and emotions can help pinpoint sources of stress. Whether this comes in the form of meditation, journaling or breathwork, practice mindfulness during your challenges and successes alike. This goes hand-in-hand with getting comfortable with your feelings. Take the time to learn how to appreciate and express your emotions, even negative ones, rather than suppressing them.

Pushing negative feelings down will not make them go away; instead, they will fester just below the surface until you reach your breaking point. To meditate on negative thoughts means to identify these emotions, accept that they are harmful and negative, choose to love yourself anyway, and honor yourself by committing to a more positive mindset.

Ground yourself

When we get too deep in our own heads, negative thoughts can quickly spiral. One minute you made a typo in an email; the next minute you’ve convinced yourself that you are horrible at your job, that all of your coworkers hate you and you are on the verge of being fired.

Come back to the present moment to break the cycle of negative thoughts. Your negative thoughts do not define you. Try a grounding technique like the ‘5-4-3-2-1’ method: list five things you can hear, four things you can see, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste in your immediate area.

Give yourself a break

Anxiety tends to build up when we are already feeling stressed and don’t have a release for these emotions. When you find that you’ve been experiencing more negative thoughts than usual, take a step back and examine how your last few days have gone. Did you have to work overtime? Did you skip meals because you were too busy to take a break? Did you get restful sleep or were you tossing and turning? Did the laundry and dishes continue to pile up no matter how much you did them? You likely have a lot going on in your life, and we can sometimes naturally feel disappointed in ourselves when we don’t meet our self-imposed expectations. You are human, and you won’t be perfect, no matter what. Be kind to yourself and show yourself some grace.

Take care of yourself

Just as anxiety builds up during stressful periods of life, consistently neglecting our basic needs can negatively affect our mental health as well. Our basic necessities like food and water can play a larger role than we might think on the way we feel. Dehydration and hunger can lead to irritability, aggression, agitation, fatigue and rapid heartbeat. It’s no surprise that these symptoms can make us feel upset and uncomfortable without realizing the cause. Drink plenty of water during the day and eat satisfying meals on a consistent schedule. Your basic needs must be met before you can nourish your mind, body, and spirit as a whole.

Go to therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy principles can help you recognize when your self-talk is faulty. You know, rationally, that you are a worthy and intelligent person. Each time your negative thoughts tell you anything to the contrary, learn to recognize that it’s only your negative thoughts talking and not reality. This will help you gain a better understanding of your mind, body and sense of self and recognize when negative self-talk is a sign of something more.

Still not sure what to do about negative thoughts? Sometimes it helps to talk it out with someone. High Focus Centers offers holistic in-person counseling and teletherapy for those struggling with negative thoughts. Reach out today at 800-877-3628.