Do you find yourself swarming in negative thoughts, wishing you could just stop them from coming? We are going to talk about that today. Negative thought patterns can become frequent when we allow unrealistic self-critical thoughts, when we make incorrect assumptions or when we are in denial of a reality. All of these can become an unhealthy habit that leads to issues coping with normal life.
What Causes Negative Thought Patterns?
While it is normal to each of us to experience negative thoughts, it is unhealthy when our viewpoint of existing defaults to a negative thought. Life will bring positive experiences as well as negative experiences and learning ways to cope with our circumstances goes a long way toward our perception of them. So many factors can affect why we tend to have negative thought patterns and those of us who experienced multiple life situations that promoted negative feelings and thoughts can truly struggle to not think the way we do. Below are a few examples that could have affected the way you process what you see and experience.
- Trauma During your Childhood or Life
- Untreated Anxiety, Depression or Mental Illness
- Influences in Your Life that Spoke Harshly or Critical
All of these examples deeply affect our wellbeing and can create lifelong issues in our wellbeing and in our relationships. Recognizing when you focus on negative outcomes more than actual or positive outcomes is important. There is help and ways to stop them. Have you been told that see the bad in everything and you want to be able to see the good? Hopefully this can help.
Examples of Negative Thought Patterns
It is completely normal for us to have thoughts that are negative. Or to expect that an outcome may not work well. However, when our thoughts automatically start with reasons something will not work, or begin to process worst possible outcome, we may suffer with negative thought patterns. The good thing is that there is help to change your thoughts. We don’t have to be riddled with constant nagging of failure in our minds. Do these thoughts sound familiar to you?
- “I am always alone and never with friends.”
- “It’s impossible for me to do this.”
- “Today was an ok day, but the evening will probably be horrible.”
- “She said I did a good job, she probably didn’t even read it.”
- “They probably look at me and think I am a loser.”
- “He seems mad. I must have done something.”
- “We are not allowed to do that. I must have messed something up.”
Seeing just the bad, jumping to conclusions, assuming you are at fault or making everything bad that happened to you about one single event in your life are a few ways we can recognize negative thought patterns. Do you find your thoughts to be similar with the above examples? Know that you are not alone. Recognizing an issue is always the first step in learning to manage or heal.
How Can I Stop Negative Thoughts?
While there is no quick fix to stop the thoughts we have, there are steps that we can take to, over time, change the way we think. It has taken your whole life of experiences to form this way of thinking and it will take time and effort to make lasting changes. Change is possible if you desire change and are willing to put intentional effort into it. Adding the suggestions below to your day-to-day life can help change the patterns of your thoughts.
- Practice Mindfulness. Be present in what you are doing right now in this moment. Do not think ahead or backwards. Just feel what you are doing right now. If you are washing dishes, feel the water and the warmth. Smell the dish soap. Feel the texture of the sponge or cloth. Be present.
- Journal. Begin to journal your thoughts. When you read them back, you may begin to see where the negative thoughts enter into your mind. Be sure to include and write thoughts about how you would like your thoughts to change. How would positive thoughts impact you and your relationships?
- Meditate. Add space in your life to meditate. The quiet and space of meditation provides breaks in our “normal” thoughts and open our minds to receive more positive.
- Gratitude. Create a habit of writing about the things you are grateful for. What things in your life do you appreciate? What do you appreciate about them?
- Give yourself some grace. Decide to accept who you are today. Keep the vision of healthier happier you in mind and take one step at a time to achieve that. We can’t make positive steps forward if we keep beating ourselves up where we are.
- Talk. Share your struggle with someone you trust. Confiding our thoughts to someone we trust and listening to what they see in us and love about us can be healing.
- Get out and get moving! Physical activity and being outdoors are so good for us. Our bodies were made to move and use its muscles. The outdoors with its abundance of beauty and oxygen is the perfect setup.
You can’t add all of these in your life at once, but you can add one then move to the next. Our lives progress one day at a time and so does our healing. You won’t see overnight success, but you can see glimpses of hope and change bit by bit. If you have struggled with your thoughts and tried to help yourself, but feel it is too big a task for you, we are not alone. Upstate Restorative Counseling helps people just like you every day to grow beyond today and closer to what you desire for yourself. Reach out to learn how we can help you.