6 strategies to overcome negative thoughts

Negative thoughts can influence the appearance of anxiety and depression disorders. Therefore, it is important to learn to control them.

Last update: 24 March, 2022

“They start and I can’t stop”, commented one person in reference to the nature of their intrusive thoughts. It is that they appear without us looking for them, but then they hang around and cause discomfort and wear. In fact, they reduce the quality of life. How to overcome negative thoughts?

Well, first of all you have to consider that trying to eliminate them can reinforce their pattern or make them worse. That is, the more you try not to experience them, the more that thought increases. Therefore, it is best to learn some strategies to face and control them. Next, we detail them.

What are negative thoughts?

Negative thoughts have the peculiarity that they start out tiny and refer to one topic, but then they become giants and torment us in relation to many aspects.

They even dwell on topics of unlikely occurrence. In this way, we are caught in a tide that anguishes us and makes us have a pessimistic view of the facts.

A great food for these thoughts is worry too much about what they will say and the look of the other, as well as for excessive attention in the future. We cannot control any of this and it is important to work on acceptance.

Surely, there will be those who do not like what we do or our way of being. But, there is nothing wrong with that! It is not necessary to please everyone and we do not have to agree with everything or everyone.

Furthermore, the future is changeable and uncertain; and although it is good to take certain precautions so that it does not find us “unprepared”, don’t give too much importance or dedicate all our energy to it.

Negative thoughts can interfere with many areas of life. Therefore, it is important to control them.

6 strategies to overcome negative thoughts

As explained by a study published in Cognitive Therapy and Research, repetitive negative thoughts can influence the development and maintenance of emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Hence the importance of paying attention to them and adopting strategies to overcome them.

1. Detect its appearance and interrupt its course

One of the strategies to deal with these thoughts is detect its appearance in time and interrupt its course. What does this mean? Well, as soon as that typical thought that triggers the discomfort appears, you have to start another activity.

Going for a walk with the pet, going to the gym, calling a friend, etc., are some of the things that can be done to take away the opportunity for the brain to put attention – and energy – where it should not.

2. Rehearse positive views of life

Learning to rehearse positive views of life that judge the limiting belief is another key to overcoming negative thoughts. We get used to thinking that things can go wrong, but we do not do the same with those situations in which we are triumphant. Therefore, it is important to imagine and visualize optimistic situations.

3. Judge your own thoughts

Negative thoughts settle in uninvited. However, they are not true. You have to question them, “put them in check.” To do this, it is convenient to identify the form they take. For example, “I’ll never be able to do it”, “I am unable”and so on.

Faced with this, you should “attack” with questions such as the following:

  • Why couldn’t I do it, if I could do it before?
  • Why couldn’t I today?
  • Do I have any evidence to think that I am incapable of doing it?
  • What would you say to a person who considers being unable to achieve their goals?

This way, we try to deactivate that negative and recurring charge with more real thoughts.

4. Avoid comparisons

Many times, we compare ourselves with the achievements of other people, without taking into account their “before” and their reality. If we want to overcome negative thoughts, we can also analyze our results in light of our circumstances.

It is important to value your own effort, focus on the process and take every moment as a source of learning. Being kinder to ourselves is also learning.

5. Relativize and weigh ideas

These usually have a certain “format”. They appear as mandates that must be fulfilled. Very extreme ideas such as “all or nothing” or only considering the negative side of the situation. It is very useful to try to nuance each one of the thoughts, to think about your own choices and not about rules to follow.

6. Find relaxation spaces

Negative thoughts go hand in hand with stress. When we are overwhelmed, cortisol tends to circulate in excess in our body, which is known as the “stress hormone”. Because of this, we see everything black, impossible, and we end up demotivating ourselves.

Therefore, it is necessary that we seek a balanced life, in which we can allocate time for leisure, rest and to connect with enjoyment. Relaxation and breathing techniques are also advised.

Why not underestimate negative thoughts?

It is necessary to pay attention to negative thoughts, their intensity, their frequency and the way they interfere with our daily lives. As we have mentioned, they are sometimes at the base of more complex problems, such as anxiety disorders or depression.

They can even harm our physical health, since they cause stomach upset, skin rashes, sleep disorders, among other effects. So that, If it is difficult to interrupt this negative spiral, the ideal thing is to ask a professional for help.

Negative thoughts can influence the appearance of anxiety and depression disorders. Therefore, professional help may be necessary.

Disassemble the “road map” of negative thoughts

Negative thoughts become the habitual path that our mind takes when interpreting a situation. The more they appear and become stronger, the more we will turn to them for a matter of economy of thought, of the “old known”.

When we repeat a behavior or a thought permanently, the neural connection is strengthened. Therefore, later it will be our “fast track”. However, it is important to teach our brain that there are other possible paths, other interpretations.

In any case, we should not try to completely eliminate negative thoughts from our minds. You have to accept that they will exist. Despite this, we must keep in mind that they are only thoughts, not reality.

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