How much more peaceful would your life be if you knew how to rid yourself of negative thoughts.
‘Ahh what a good night’s sleep!’ is the first thought you are likely to think in the morning, assuming you slept like a baby throughout the night.
As you open your eyes, you stretch your arms wide overhead with a smile on your face, feeling peaceful, happy and refreshed.
‘But wait…..’, you wonder, ‘why is my mind still?’ ‘where have all my thoughts gone?’
….. and in no time your peace is submerged by the routine and automatic stream of familiar thoughts by which you live everyday of your life.
Your mind starts throwing random worries and thoughts at you, just like the pop-up windows when you first start up a computer.
Well in actual fact, your mind is like a computer, only without a McAfee anti virus subscription. So you can just imagine the amount of spam, bugs, trojans and viruses you have to filter through each day.
Some bugs you may very well be aware of, but many others go unnoticed.
The same holds true with negative thoughts.
When you first wake up in the morning, your mind is still starting up.
It’s why you may initially experience those moments of peace (if you slept well) before it all takes a turn.
The negative thoughts we experience on a daily basis, therefore, are all the result of a compromised ‘computer’, which takes its time to boot up in the morning.
Now, although our minds are compromised everyday of our lives with negative thoughts and beliefs, it does not mean we cannot fix or rid ourselves of the garbage roaming around.
It simply means we have to work harder to filter and resolve the problems.
Here are 8 highly effective tools you may use to rid yourself of negative thoughts and beliefs.
1. Negative Journalling
Often you may feel down, offended or hurt without even knowing the reason why. Usually there’s a deeper underlying belief or cause for you feeling the way you do.
By putting all your thoughts in the moment on paper, it’s easier to uncover the root cause behind your negative thoughts.
Journalling doesn’t have to begin with ‘Dear diary’. Just free write anything that comes into your mind. It doesn’t even have to make sense. You’re going to be the only one reading it.
Once you identify or get to the why behind your negative thoughts when you read it over, toss the paper away, you no longer need it.
The last thing you want is to add a drama genre to your book shelf.
2. Stop playing the victim
It’s easier to dwell in negative thoughts when we complain and think things happen against us.
In reality we have the power to choose what we focus on.
Own up to the responsibility that you control your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and stop being the victim of life.
Yes, shit happens in life but as Epictetus once said “Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”
So you may not fully control what happens to you, but you have the full control over how to react over it and perceive it.
You can either sulk or be offended at the insult your friend threw at you or you can confidently acknowledge that their insults are merely a reflection of their own insecurities.
The choice is yours.
Meditation is more than just sitting cross legged and ‘Om’ chanting. The objective of meditation is to instill greater awareness in you.
Awareness that the thoughts and garbage in your mind are not real and therefore cannot harm you.
By reaching a point where you are able to still the mind or observe your thoughts from a detached distance, you will over time build increased control over your mind.
The result will be less stress, more peace and more joy.
4. Question your negative thoughts
It’s easy for us to catastrophise over an outcome or get caught up in ‘what if?’ thoughts.
Our instinct is to push them away and out of our mind.
When such thoughts arise, however, face them and rationalise with them instead, and ask yourself whether that thought will matter in 5/10 years from now.
By realising they will have no impact whatsoever on your life in the future, you will find it easier to let go and revert back to a more peaceful state.
5. Look for the Positive
Always look for the positive in any negative situation, no matter how small it is.
Our minds are built to magnify any negative situation and dwell on them. By focusing on the things we can be grateful for in any negative situation, we are rewiring the neural pathways in our brain to give more focus to the positives in your life.
Negative thoughts will always crawl back in, though the more you look for the positives in any given situation, the easier it will get to shift your focus off the negative.
Keep in mind that everything that happens to us in life has something to teach us.
We may not see it in the moment negative circumstances occur, yet you will look back on your life one day and realise everything happened for a reason or to teach you a positive lesson.
6. Engage in Mantras
Mantras are any combination of words you repeat to yourself.
By repeating a mantra to yourself everyday, such as ‘the universe is working for me’, you will in time through repetition come to believe the statement.
Since our thoughts create our reality, positive beliefs will raise your energetic vibration to the universe and you will be able to attract more good into your life.
7. Self- Compassion
Let yourself of the hook for your mistakes and falling into negative thought patterns.
When you can forgive yourself, you will find it easier to engage in positive self-care activities.
Having a shit day? Ditch the self-pity, and allow yourself to enjoy something you like. Go for a walk in nature, allow yourself that ONE cheat meal (not cheat week!), go for a massage.
Reminding yourself that you are doing the best you can each day, will do enough to raise your self-esteem in time and be more at ease with your mistakes and resulting negative thoughts.
8. Use the Scramble pattern
This one is my favourite. Here’s a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) technique to keep your negative thoughts at bay.
- Clearly bring your negative thought to mind and stay with it rather than pushing it away, which you will be inclined to do.
- Keeping in mind that thoughts are not real, imagine a TV set and start playing around with the thought or movie clip that’s going on in your mind.
- First start by changing the colour of your mental movie to blue, then to red and finally to black and white. (I find black and white does the trick for me).
- Once you’ve played around with the colours, scramble the TV station from which your mental movie is playing, so you cannot see what’s going on in the background.
- Now go back to your favourite colour in step 3 and play around with the size of your mental movie. First magnify the picture and then reduce it untill you can barely see it.
- Re-play your negative mental movie on the imaginary TV set, this time as a funny cartoon. (I like to use SpongeBob)
- If your thought is a sound, then play around with the tone of voice aswell as the volume instead.
- By this step your original thought would have lost its emotional power over you, and you could well be laughing at it as you realise you have control over your thoughts, by initiating in the above steps.
- Finally, once you’ve played around with your thoughts and had a laugh at them, visualise the opposite of your negative thought. So if your negative thought was the fear of flying, visualise yourself on a plane feeling calm and at ease. This will change the neuro-associations in your brain towards flying.
- Keep repeating the above steps whenever necessary
Negative thoughts and beliefs aren’t here to stay. The above methods can all be used in combination with each other to change your mindset.
You will realise as you filter through and manage your negative thoughts that you were the anti-virus your mind needed all along.
Maybe this will allow you to spend a couple of extra minutes in bed, upon waking feeling more peaceful, happy and refreshed.
….. atleast untill the next wave of bugs, trojans and viruses come along for you to deal with.
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