How to Stop Negative Thoughts

When we are feeling down and anxious, we are more likely to have negative thoughts.

Have you ever caught yourself saying hurtful or unkind things to yourself? Are you even aware of the thoughts that occur in your head, day in and day out? We start to believe what we say to ourselves, and it doesn’t take long to get into a downward spiral.

Perhaps you have reflected back on your year and realised that you didn’t achieve everything you wanted to, or maybe you look back and beat yourself up for things you may have said or done. Maybe you are worried about what 2022 will bring….

Would you talk to your friend like that?

I was talking to a client today who was being particularly harsh on herself. She felt she had eaten too much over the festive period.

She had been desperately trying to lose weight before her wedding in the spring, and she burst into tears when she told me she had got on the scales that morning.

She repeatedly told me that she was so stupid, and she was so fat. I listened to her as she told me she didn’t deserve to be slim, she had no willpower or determination and she was a complete failure. She told me she can’t do anything right, and there is no point even trying to lose weight anymore. She told me her fiancé would then leave her and she would be fat and single for the rest of her life. I watched her via Zoom, and could see her shoulders were rounded, and her breathing was rapid. She looked totally depressed and defeated.

Now I know my client is a very successful businesswoman. She runs multiple companies, has been a devoted single mum to her 3 children, and is the carer for her sick mother.

Reframe your thoughts

I directed the conversation away from her weight and we carried on talking. Once I had got her into a calmer state, I asked her about a time in her business when she had needed heaps of willpower to get something done.

She immediately readjusted herself in her seat, her shoulders shot back, and I noticed her breathing relax as she told me how she had overcome a previous challenge. I asked her about a time she felt completely determined, and she told me about a lovely story to do with her children. Her face lit up with excitement and she got a sparkle back in her eyes. I asked her to tell me about something she was super proud of, and again, she immediately had a fabulously uplifting story on the tip of her tongue. She laughed out loud as she recalled the moment.

When I was confident that she really was feeling the powerful, happy version of herself, I asked her to imagine she was about to get back on those scales and to tell me what she would say to herself now.

She told me “I am on day one of my journey to be the best version of myself. I am strong and capable, and I’ve got this. I know I can do and be whatever I want. My life is about choices, and I am going to choose to put me and my needs first. I've got this.”

Wow!!

We already have everything we need within us

What a difference! She can now see that she already has everything within her to achieve the goals and the life she wants.

Now ask yourself which version of my client would you rather be?

So, if you find yourself being harsh on yourself, or you notice that you are feeling anxious or down, observe your body language. Notice how you are sitting or standing, notice where you may be holding tension in your body. Become aware if your breathing is fast and shallow.

Our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviours are all interconnected, so, by noticing the physical sensations in our bodies, and changing our behaviour, we can impact our thoughts and our feelings.

How would you like to feel instead? What would you like to say to yourself instead when you change your state to the more positive and empowered version of yourself?

So next time you notice negative thoughts, try these top tips:

Pause for a moment and acknowledge the thought

Acknowledging a thought is much easier than pushing it away. Understand that your reaction to the situation means that this is about something that is important to you, however your negative thoughts are just thoughts.

Notice how you were feeling before the thought

Could there be something triggering how you were feeling, that resulted in the thought? Could you be hungry, angry or frustrated, perhaps you were feeling lonely or tired? Who were you with? Where were you?

Detach yourself from the thought

Label your thought as if it was happening to a friend. Was it unhelpful, hurtful, unrealistic, exaggerated? What evidence do you have to support that thought? What evidence do you have that contradicts that thought? How can you challenge them?

How can you change your state of mind right now?

What do you need to do or think differently to give you a different outcome? Think back to a time when you had the confidence or strength to overcome a similar challenge. How did you feel then? What could you see at that time, what could you hear? Notice how your body language changes when you think back to that time.

Reframe your thought in a more positive way

If your original thought was “I am such a failure”, try reframing it with a more empowering thought. You can use the worksheet to assist you further 

If anxiety is something you or your loved ones struggle with regularly, then please get in touch to discuss how I can help you. You can book a FREE 45 minute discovery call here

 

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