Negative thoughts can derail our entire day. And actually, negative thoughts are what starts every downward spiral. If you stop the thoughts before they get out of hand, then you stop the relapse into old habits before it happens. Here’s how to deal with negative thoughts.
How to Overcome Negative Thoughts | How to Deal with Negative Thoughts
If you don’t have the strength to keep fighting, then learn to float in the waves. Ride out your emotions without getting attached. Negative thoughts come in? Just watch them float gently by as you move on to the next thoughts.
Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to let it stay in your head. And if those thoughts are leaving their dirty footprints all over your mind, then gently let them know that you need to get back to the things in your life that matter most to you. Negative thoughts are like intruding house guests- you’re allowed to ask them to leave if they overstay their welcome. Only invite in the warm, welcoming, friendly thoughts.
And if a thoughts walks in with muddy boots on? Just say, “I’m sorry, but I have to ask you to leave until you clean yourself up.” Then re-frame your old thought in a positive way. Clean it up! It sounds cheesy but it will probably make you smile, which is the point. 🙂
For example, maybe your thought is that nobody likes you. How much is this negatively impacting your mood, from a scale from 1 to 10? Your mind is going to want to collect evidence of this that makes this thought seem so real when really it’s just a cognitive distortion – or your brain trying to trick you into thinking something negative. You could probably come up with dozens of reasons why it seems like nobody likes you – but resist the temptation. Stop before you get to that point. Do some forgiveness work on what caused these beliefs if it helps.
Then, re-frame your negative thought. Maybe your new thought is, people do like me. Now collect evidence in support of this new, positive thought. What are some examples in the past when someone was friendly to you? Do you have friends, family, or a therapist who likes you or is friendly to you? (Even one person is enough!) Think of the times in the past when someone complimented you – I bet if you think hard enough, you can think of several examples!
Keep collecting this positive evidence until you feel better about your previous negative thoughts. Is the thought still negatively impacting your mood?
Why Negative Emotions Are a Blessing in Disguise
When we’re filled with negative emotions, we feel awful. How could this ever be a good thing?
But I actually think negative emotions are a blessing in disguise.
It may not feel like it, but I really believe they are. Negative emotions are a second chance.
When you feel a strong reaction to something, it’s a sign to pay attention: something in your life isn’t working or isn’t the way you want it to be.
And if you think about it, it’s good that we have emotions, because how else would we know if we like something or not? We either respond positively or negatively, and if something elicits a negative emotion, then we have a chance to improve things.
It’s like sailing a ship (disclaimer: I know nothing about sailing ships :)). The wind blows in different directions and your boat responds to it. If you find yourself veering off course, instead of getting mad at the wind, just readjust your sails and steer yourself back in the right direction.
Imagine that you think hateful things about yourself, and as a result you feel depressed all the time. Feeling bad is letting you know that something isn’t working right now. So, the way to improve that would be to change your thoughts about yourself and start telling yourself a new, positive story. If you change your thoughts, you’ll change the resulting emotion. And when you have happy emotions, you know you’re on the right track again.
So that’s how negative emotions are a blessing in disguise. Because they let you know that you need to pay attention to something in your life (it’s like a red flag going up), and possibly make some changes or adjustments to things in your life.
And if we didn’t have emotions, how would we ever improve or grow? 🙂
If you’d like more tips about overcoming negativity, check out our 30 Day Negativity Detox.
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How to Get Rid of Bad Feelings and Thoughts
Bad feelings are an inevitable part of life.
But there is a distinction here. I think that pain and bad things happening are part of life, whereas suffering is within our control. Just because something bad happens doesn’t mean we have to suffer. The way I see it, suffering is our reaction to something, whereas pain is more objective.
So if we know that we’re going to experience pain at different times in our life, we need to know how to deal with it.
A lot of times, this is when we try to numb the pain, or “fill the void,” I like to call it. This is when we turn to overeating or alcohol or drugs or romantic love or hurting ourselves or success and achievement or whatever else we are using to fill that empty feeling in our chest. Anything to avoid facing the pain head on and deal with our demons.
But the problem with numbing the pain is that it only hurts more when we finally feel it.
In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green says,
“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”
And this is so true, whether we accept it or not. The sooner you feel your pain, the sooner and faster it goes away, and the less you suffer overall.
If you go into life knowing that bad feelings have to be felt at some point, you’ll realize that a few minutes or hours of emotional pain is a lot better than spending years numbing it with something else and finally feeling it years later when you try to clean up your life, lose weight, break up your relationship, or otherwise have an end to whatever was temporarily distracting you from the pain.
I promise that if you honor your feelings and let yourself sit with the bad feelings, let them wash over you, they will slip out of your life much faster than if you try to stuff down your feelings with food, alcohol, love, or anything else.
If you start to have bad feelings, just feel them. Cry if you need to. Don’t be afraid. Feelings cannot kill you.
Just sit there with your feelings like you’re sitting down with an old friend. Ask yourself why you’re in pain right now. What are you trying to run from or are afraid to face? What are you avoiding? Think of sitting with your bad feelings as a form of meditation.
This one technique was life changing for me. When I started feeling my feelings and not trying to push them away or immediately move on to being happy and positive and optimistic without first addressing the negative feelings, my moods became more stable and I started to lose the depression.
I found that before in my life, some kind of problem would come up and normally I would react very badly to it, getting upset or overly dramatic or making a big deal out of something small. But instead of freaking out, now I just sit with whatever feelings come up when something bad happens. I let myself feel all the emotions without trying to block them out or push them away.
And once the feelings are felt, then they’re ready to move on, and you can move on to adding more self care and positivity to your life. But only when you’ve let yourself fully feel the pain first.
When you feel like the thought or feeling no longer has power over you, then you have won.
If you’d like more depression tips, check out our 30 Day Negativity Detox.