Negative Thoughts – Tips from a NE Life Coach
How do negative thoughts begin? Any negative, intrusive thoughts I experience (yes, I still get them) can seem to come out of nowhere. It can start with just a tiny glimpse of a thought or a feeling. Perhaps it began with a sentence spoken by someone else. Then it takes hold and down we go; dragged further and further down.
Down into what? Well, some may say into feeling sorry for yourself, or being worried or anxious. Sometimes as far as “what’s the point in doing anything at all?” and you’ve arrived. The darkness, the black cloud, the black dog, the depression.
Whatever you call it, it holds you back. It’s as though you are being held prisoner by the blackness.
I’m going to share some of the things that I do that have been helpful for me in these situations.
Ask yourself “what gift am I receiving?”
Look back over the tough times and see what you learned, what it led to, find the gift. It’s here now too. Pause, breathe, focus on the breath, breathing deeply and show your gratitude for the gift that is within this situation.
More questions to ask
Questions can provide a useful way to interrupt the negative thought pattern. Some of the questions I try are:
- What’s one thing I can learn from this?
- What one thing will I do differently next time?
- What one thing would I say to help someone else in this situation?
- What’s one good thing about this situation?
It’s not all about me!
When you reach that point where you start mind-reading. You know the one, where you convince yourself about what other people are thinking or saying about you. Yet the reality is people are far too busy with their own stuff to spend their time judging every thing you do. “They haven’t called because they hate me / I upset them / they think I’m a waste of space.” Sound familiar? Then when you next speak to them or meet up, you find out that they have been busy with their kids, job, pets, hobbies, own fears and worries.
Question the thought
Now with this I don’t mean that you should start engaging in a battle with the thought. Question it gently and with compassion.
Should I take you seriously? Errmmm probably not!
What is your evidence? Now this one may lead to the one thing that was a tiny mistake and you made it because you were working too many hours, doing too much at home and looking after everyone but yourself, so you ended up completely worn out. Time to focus on the 99.9% of things you did right!
More questions and these ones give it a different type of context.
- Will it matter in 5 days?
- Will it matter in 5 weeks?
- Will it matter in 5 months?
- Will it matter in 5 years?
If I answer yes, I reply to myself with “Really??” complete with raised eyebrows!
Clear out the negative
Consider your surroundings, look at the ‘things’ that are around you daily. Consider the people who are in your life daily. What / who has a negative impact? How could you interact differently with them / it? If that isn’t possible do they need to be in your life the way they are now? Could you replace them with more positive elements? One of the biggest negative influences can be the amount of time we spend on social media. Yet, sometimes it can be a life saver and is often the only interaction we can manage in tough times. Use it wisely. You may want to consider how much time you spend with the negative influences; that way it may be easier to replace some of that time with something more positive.
Let it out
Keeping everything bottled up inside isn’t helpful. Get it out of your head. Now, it can be really tough to talk to someone about what is going on inside your head. Think about who you can talk to. Friends and family can surprise you in how much they have already noticed and want to help. Sometimes it’s hard to talk to people close to you, so you may want to speak to your doctor or therapist or coach. There are times when you simply need it out of your head. Write it down. Draw it, paint it, sculpt it. Maybe you have an old teddy bear friend, the keeper of all our secrets who sits quietly and listens, ready to give hugs. Whatever it is you need to do, get it out of your head
Dance it out
Dance like no-ones watching. Put on some loud energetic music you love and let rip! Jump up and down if you can. Run on the spot or march on the spot. Get your pulse rate up and those endorphins flowing.
Don’t underestimate the power of this. About 20 years ago I had my first bout of serious clinical depression. I didn’t want to leave the house. My mum didn’t really understand everything that was going on with me but she knew I would feel better if I had a brisk walk each day. I rarely wanted to go despite the fact that I always felt better after it. So, in that persistent, relentless, loving way that only mothers have, she made sure I got my walk every evening. Thank you, mum!
Negative thoughts are often prompted by something that has happened in the past or may happen in the future. By focusing on our breathing, we can bring the mind back to the present moment. To this moment. We don’t need to fight the negative thought, we don’t even need to enter into a discussion we simply breathe and focus on the breath in …..and out. Noticing how your chest and stomach rise and fall with each breath. It may only take a couple of minutes for the thought to drift away.
The world around you
Focus your attention on what is happening around you. Is it the rain on the windowpane, or perhaps the way the leaves rustle in the breeze; perhaps it’s the hum of traffic, or the noise of a busy street. Really pay attention and keep your focus there for a couple of minutes.
If you would like a free consultation to find out how I can help you deal more effectively with intrusive and negative thoughts, Contact Lou
If you cannot get out for a walk, or down to the beach, you may like to use this link. It’s a short recording of the waves at Tynemouth Longsands. I often use this to help me clear any negative thoughts by focusing on the sound. The Seaside