How to Free Yourself of Negative Thoughts With Less Effort
There’s a list of games we can play, mostly by default, rarely by choice, and we’re really good at it. We are born experts. BUT, when we win and are good, it leaves us feeling worse than before.
The what if game: an endless list of possibilities that can go wrong
The social comparison game: noticing how others are better with a magnifying glass
The false hope game: the “I don’t want to get my hopes up because I don’t want to feel disappointed.”
The generalization game: Thinking things in terms of “always” and “never.” Not, temporarily.
The hopeless game: thinking, what’s the point, there is a big fat “No” waiting for me if I try.
There’s definitely more, but these are too common. According to the National Science Foundation, we have an average of 50,000 thoughts per day. If we’re talking about controlling our thoughts, that’s a lot of work… to clean 50,000 of anything everyday sounds exhausting.
What’s the simplest and easiest way to filter our thoughts?
Find an activity that will absorb you. As soon as negative thoughts come in, or any of the games, just stop, don’t play that game, and move to something else that will absorb your attention. It can be something that makes you think like math, a crossword puzzle, a work project, learn code, or watch something that makes you laugh. The point is just do it something else you enjoy doing or takes your full concentration.
It sounds like a temporary fix, but it’s actually a fix. It works because the whole point is to stop thinking negative thoughts hence, with distraction we stop thinking negative thoughts.
#2: Talk about it with the right people.
When we have doubts, worries, judgment, self-criticism, legitimate concerns that plague our mind, we want to diminish this mind battle to get to a solution and not stay in this hopeless cycle. If we share our troubles with those that just fuel it, we end up feeling worse. Say you complain about your partner with friends and they just agree that you’re right, they just fueled more negativity and that is going to take you out of the solution mind-set, extending your relationship troubles and staying in the “I’m right, they’re wrong mode.” When we share our troubles, it needs to be with someone that will listen, genuinely offer support, but also ease our worries, either through information or emotional support that centers us.
#3: Plan ahead.
Identify when, where, and who opens the gate to the negative thoughts. Make a plan to avoid these scenarios or change things up. Smokers do this when trying to quit; they avoid places, people, and certain times to keep themselves strong. Take prevention seriously, by either avoiding, or finding ways to change the scenario.
Our thoughts play a huge role in our self-compassion and our peace of mind. They can empower us or be our barriers. The last thing we want to do is hold ourselves back from something greater.
Try these methods and test what works best for you. One size does not fit all.
We’re rooting for you to quit or lose at those games mentioned earlier. We want you to take care of your mind. It’s your most prized possession.
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