Negative thinking, sometimes called the Inner Critic, is something that we can all go through during our lifetime. Whether out thoughts pop up in reaction to a bad incident, interpersonal issue or the result of anxiety or depression, negative thoughts can quickly spiral into a much larger problem.
Gaining control of your negative thoughts and learning to change these into positive thoughts can be hard, but working on this will allow you to work towards living a more positive, fuller life.
Identify negative self-talk, your Inner Critic, name it.
In order to be able to start to change our thoughts, we first must be able to recognise what they are.
We may think negative thoughts so often that we’re unable to identify and separate them from other thoughts.
Some examples of these negative thoughts could be, “I’m a failure”, “I never do anything right” or “No one cares about me”. When you speak these thoughts to yourself often, you begin to believe them.
A useful way to examine if a thought is negative is the ‘friend test’. Would I say this to my friends or family? How would they feel if I said this to them?
If the answer is that you wouldn’t even consider saying it to a friend, then you probably shouldn’t be thinking it about yourself either.
Identifying negative self-talk is the first step to learning to replace it with positive thoughts. Next time you notice yourself thinking about something that could possibly be negative ask yourself the following questions.
- Why am I thinking this?
- Is this a true statement?
- Would I say this to someone else?
- How would this make someone else feel?
- How does this make me feel?
- What else can I think instead?
In a 2018 Harvard study, meditation was shown to be able to create changes in the brain in as little as eight weeks. “By practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper. Just 27 minutes per day is enough to create change in the areas of the brain which control anxiety, stress self-awareness, compassion as well as learning and memory.
There are numerous apps available such as ‘Calm’ and ‘Headspace’ which provide guided meditation. Set aside time each day to meditate and you may be surprised by the benefits.
Reading positive quotes
Positive quotes and affirmations can motivate you and make you happier. Instagram, Pinterest and even Google searches will provide you with numerous examples of positive quotes. It may be helpful to print these out, stick them on your mirror, fridge, entrance to the house or even save them as your phone wallpaper and repeat them to yourself each day.
Creating the changes in the brain required to rewire the pathways that trigger these negative thoughts takes time. Remember that practice makes perfect and repetition is the key to long-term change. Find what works for you, whether that be images or sound, maybe listening to a motivation talk or watching a motivational video will help. Find what works for you and stick with it.
Continuing to practice your new-found skills of identifying negative self-talk, meditation and positive affirmations will have you on your way to develop happier thinking.
Please remember that if your negative thoughts are becoming detrimental to your wellbeing, or you are in danger of harming yourself or others, talk with a professional such as your GP, Psychologist or a crisis hotline Lifeline 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
Do you need help turning your negative thoughts into positive ones? At Harnessing Wellness, we provide psychological services in the Yarra Ranges. Contact us to learn more or book an appointment.