Negative thoughts can sneak in when we least expect it. They catch us by surprise and before we know it we can be heading down into a cycle of depression.
1. Things don’t go as planned: Negative Thought – I’m a failure!
Failure is an event not a person. It’s something that didn’t happen as we wanted it to or expected it to. That doesn’t mean the same as ‘I am a failure’. A useful way to query this is simply to ask ‘who says?’. Would you call someone else a failure in the same situation? Why should we be negative because we have more opportunity to learn?
Perhaps ask yourself what you have learned? After all, it’s in these moments that we receive the most learning.
What could I do differently next time?
This final one is something I find annoyingly useful when a close friend says it to me. Yet now, I tend to say it to myself much more often. ‘If you were coaching someone else, what would you say to them now?’
2. Welcome the thought.
Asking yourself some questions is very different to arguing with the negative thought that comes up in your mind. Often, we enter into a battle with the thought. Why not welcome the thought as you would welcome guests to your home? Thank it for being there. It has a positive intention. It may just need a bit of time to be more helpful in how it delivers its message. Encourage it to rest and relax whilst you carry on with your day.
The thought that grows is the one we feed and if we fight the negative thought, we are feeding it. Try this Native American Tale for further explanation – The two wolves.
3. Talk about the negative thoughts
We all know that keeping the negative thoughts and worries trapped inside isn’t good for us. Talk to a friend. Write a letter. Write it in your journal. Tell it to your teddy bear! Anything to get it out of your head. It’s rare that we actually need someone else’s perspective, simply getting it out of our head allows us to see it differently
4. Be present
When our heads are taken over by the monkey mind, that mischief maker of negative thoughts, we can feel as if we are ‘all over the place’. We lean back into the past ruminating over something that’s happened or we lean forward into the future and worry about something that hasn’t happened. Being present keeps us in the here and now and occupies our mind with what is happening right now.
5. Mindful Breathing
This is a great help in staying in the present moment. Take a couple of minutes and breathe. Focus on your in breath and your out breath and when your mind wanders bring it back to the breath. Visit Free Stuff for access to free guided mindfulness meditations.
6. Shake it off.
Stretch, shake your arms, jump up and down – get a bit of oxygen flowing up to the brain to clear it. There isn’t any reason why you cannot do this at your desk. You may of course, prefer to go for a short brisk walk and get some fresh air.
7. Turn your focus to someone else
Do some thing for someone else. It may be a simple as offering a compliment. This interaction, leads to smiles, happy endorphins and takes the mind away from its negative chatter.
Please leave comments below if you have found this helpful or share on social media. If you need any support in dealing with negative thoughts please contact me for a free consultation to find out how I can help. Contact Lou