“I can never do anything right… I’m such a loser.”
“I shouldn’t have eaten seconds at dinner… I have no self-control.”
“I can’t ask her out, she would never go for someone as lame as me.”
Do any of these statements ring a bell? If so, you might be struggling with some negative internal thoughts.
The way we talk to ourselves influences the way we see the world around us. In turn, the way we see the world around us affects how we behave towards others and the situations we may find ourselves in.
Thankfully, much research has been done to prove that negative thoughts don’t mean you’re doomed forever. You can actually retrain your brain - no matter how old you are!
If you’re someone that constantly talks down on yourself then stick around. We’re going to talk about why negative thoughts occur and what you can do about them.
Think about a time you really wanted something. Whether that was a promotion at work or a goal you’ve been aiming for. Did you give up? Or worse, did you not even try?
You might have been telling yourself “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do it”.
Just these little phrases may have held you back from accomplishing something you’ve longed for years! These are negative thoughts and they can greatly influence the decisions we make in life.
Negative thoughts are defined as any pattern of thinking that views yourself or the world around you in a pessimistic light. This could show up as always jumping to the worst-case scenario, or trying to find the downside in everything.
So, why do these negative thoughts pop up so much?
Negative thinking can happen for a variety of reasons.
Do you feel like you’re constantly spiralling into a dark hole of doom late at night? If you’re someone that lies in bed for hours tossing and turning, thinking about past mistakes or regrets you’re likely in need of some distraction.
These negative thoughts that intrude our minds right at bedtime are likely making it more difficult to fall asleep, causing sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can cause a wide variety of mental health issues creating a vicious cycle.
In addition, negative thoughts can occur due to depression or insecurities. These can happen when you’ve experienced illness, difficulties, or trauma from the past. When we endure painful events our brains then adapt to view the world through the lens of what we’ve just experienced.
If left unresolved this can then influence our entire outlook on life.
Now that we’ve addressed what negative thoughts are, and why they arise, the question lies: how can we overcome these pessimistic thinking patterns?
Let’s talk about a few tips that may help keep your negative thoughts at bay while redirecting them into positive ones.
It might seem counterproductive but one way to combat negative thinking is to address these thoughts head-on but in an organized fashion.
Set aside time each day for negative thinking.
Let your thoughts run wild, write them down if you have to.
Then, when the time is up, move forward with your day. If you experience negative thoughts during the day, jot them down and promise to readdress them during your next set time.
Gradually you will be able to gain better control over thoughts that run rampant.
Instead of focusing so much on removing negative thoughts, choose to replace them.
Oftentimes we resort subconsciously to negative thinking patterns because that's what we’ve always done. Every time we choose to think negatively, the neural connections in our brains grow stronger.
So it’s simply out of habit to criticize yourself when you spill or talk harshly inwards after being rejected.
When seeking to replace negative thoughts you must acknowledge them first.
Recognize when a negative thought arises.
Decide in the moment that you want to change this habitual thought.
Speak out what you’d like to think instead.
Act on this - choose a different, positive thought.
Sometimes the hardest part of changing is being upfront and real with your inner self. Ask yourself these tough questions.
“What do I get by talking to myself this way?”
“Do I really believe this about myself?”
“What is the reward for me when I jump to the worst-case scenario?”
“Is this pattern of thinking hurting or helping me?”
“What happened to me in my past that has made me think this way?”
It may even be beneficial to sit and write these questions down and create time to truly reflect on your answers. You may have a quick response to some, but try and think deeper than whatever your mind jumps to at first.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is specifically designed to help you address negative thinking patterns and redirect them into more positive ones.
So often our negative thoughts are directly influencing any current problems or situations we find ourselves in. By addressing the root cause of these thoughts we can help establish healthier, more positive ones and in turn create a happier life.
CBT is used worldwide and has been proven effective in helping clients overcome destructive thinking, gain self-confidence and independence, learn how to cope with stress, and discover more about themselves. With the use of technology, you can easily find specialist CBT therapists.
The use of cognitive behavioural therapy has many benefits such as:
Helping you become more aware of unhelpful thoughts
Helping you view a difficult situation more clearly
Helping you explore alternate perspectives of a situation
Helping you understand your intrusive thoughts better
Negative self-talk can happen to all of us. It can be an extremely easy, and dangerous path to walk down.
However, when these negative thoughts are interfering with the way you communicate with others, view your life, or impact your daily activities, it may be time to take a more serious approach.
You may have learned pessimistic thinking from childhood, or from past trauma. Your brain may have created an easy pathway for your neurons to travel down, causing negative thoughts to become a force of habit.
The positive side to this, though, is that our brains are able to be shaped and moulded even in our adult years.
Negative thoughts won’t go away on their own. It takes hard work and dedication, but it’s entirely possible. Set aside time specifically to ruminate on those thoughts. Don’t worry so much about removing them completely but rather replace them with healthier ones.
Don’t be afraid to confront and reflect on why you may be thinking this way. If all else fails, therapy is a wonderful option for those who may need a little more guidance in overcoming negative thinking.
Our brains are incredibly powerful. Once you begin this journey of positive thinking, you’ll wonder how you ever lived truly happy before.
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