4 mindful ways to transform negative thoughts
Negative thinking can have a strong and sometimes devastating impact on all aspects of our lives.
People try many different ways to ‘break out’ of their negative thought patterns including distractions, diversions or ‘drowning their sorrows’ only to later mentally beat themselves up for being still stuck in their negativity. It can feel like a real internal battle.
Try these four simple approaches over the weekend and see if you can work on changing your relationship certain patterns of thinking. Let your experience be your guide.
1. List your automatic negative thoughts. Thoughts are directly linked to our feelings and behaviors. Thus, our thoughts influence how we feel, which influences how we behave. All three (thoughts, feelings, and behaviors) influence each other simultaneously. These ideas are central to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a type of treatment that is specifically used to treat negative thought patterns. CBT is effective in reducing negative thought patterns. Listing your negative thoughts helps increase your awareness about your thinking, and can improve your ability to change your thoughts into healthier alternatives.
2. Relax the body, release the thinking: When you’re experiencing negative thoughts, your body is also reacting. You’re going through some form of a fight-flight-freeze response, so take a moment to relax your body. Through mindful breathing, you can use the out-breath to release tension in your body, as well as any negative thinking. You can even imagine negative thoughts leaving your body with the out-breath.
3. Transform the “Can’ts” into “Cans”: You can’t get a job. You can’t find a girlfriend or a boyfriend. You can’t make money. You can’t find a good home. There are many “can’ts” in life that make our lives really miserable if we spend our time focusing on them. But we can begin practicing to transform these “Can’ts” into “Cans” in order to lead a more fulfilling life. Look at what you can achieve, and what you have achieved previously. The first step to achieving something is realizing that you can do it.
4. Remember to laugh: Find people and things that make you laugh. You can even laugh at yourself. Look for opportunities to play, laugh and make others laugh.
Make small positive steps towards your goal. Working towards your goals and meeting daily little milestones can help you in breaking the cycle of negative thinking. If you have a big goal that is eroding your energy, take little daily steps towards your ambitions.