A lot of us spend time inside our own minds, thinking about what’s happened and what might happen, replaying events and generally focusing on those parts of our lives that we’re not happy with. This has been particularly true for a lot of people this year when we’ve been at home more and perhaps spent a lot of time with family or partners, highlighting lots of irritations!
It doesn’t take long before a lot of these thoughts can become negative, draining your energy and making you feel anxious and stressed.
The good news is that with practice (nothing comes that easily!), you can change negative thinking patterns and that will make a big difference to your day-to-day happiness.
So, how do you go about this? Well, here are a few tips, but don’t forget, you need to keep going with them to see a difference:
- Challenge any black and white thinking about yourself and other people. If you see everything either one way or the other, it doesn’t allow for the flexibility of anything in between. So, instead of thinking “I always get it wrong”, try thinking about the times when, in fact, you got things right!
- Stop assuming that you are to blame for anything and everything that goes wrong. For instance, if your neighbour didn’t smile at you this morning – they might have had a bad night’s sleep or received a worrying letter; her lack of a smile might have nothing to do with you.
- Choose to look at a brighter side of a situation. Yes, you can make a choice and looking at things more positively usually helps.
- Stop catastrophising – assuming that the worst possible thing is going to happen.
- Imagine if it was a friend who was speaking negatively about him or herself – what you say to them? If you’d reassure them, try doing that to yourself instead.
- If you find that negative thoughts intrude at any time or day or night, try allowing yourself a certain amount of time (say, ten minutes) at the same time each day to focus on those thoughts and train yourself to keep to that ten minutes only, rather than allow the thoughts to intrude on the rest of the time.
- If you find yourself judging another person or yourself, look for a positive quality to combat this instead.
- Keep a journal, writing down the negative thoughts and at the end of each entry, write three things that are good about yourself and/or your life.
- Focus on your strengths, writing down the skills you’ve acquired, the things that you’ve achieved and what you like about yourself.
- Practice mindfulness, which has its roots in meditation. It is a way of detaching yourself from your thoughts and emotions and, instead, viewing them as an observer. You can find ways of meditating online as well as with downloaded apps to help you.
Keep practising the above until they become easier to carry out and you find that your negative thoughts are a lot easier to control.
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