We all have negative thoughts. In fact imagining the worst may be a survival mechanism, left over from the Stone Age. After all, if you’re prepared for danger and disaster you have a better chance of coming through in one piece. But nowadays we live in a safer environment and dwelling on difficulties often does much more harm than good. It can make you depressed and ill, and it can even create the very things you seek to avoid. Learn how to quiet what Buddha called ‘The Monkey Mind’ and be peaceful and positive.
In this article we look at:
- Destructive fear and what gives rise to it
- Constructive action you can, and should take
FEAR CAN BE DESTRUCTIVE
Behind most negative thoughts is fear. Often you may try to reason yourself out of fear, but usually that just feeds the problem because the more you think about what you’re scared of, the more real it becomes. Perhaps you often say to yourself things like:
- I’m always going to be poor
- I’m not attractive enough ever to find a partner.
Those are just examples of common fears. There are many more and once they get a hold of your mind they have considerable power. Like car-wheels in a rut, these thoughts go round and round, never getting anywhere but continually carving a deeper groove in you. When this happens you are half way towards creating the negative things you believe.
WHAT FEAR CREATES
It’s not surprising that repeated fearful thoughts can make you despairing, depressed, angry, resentful, guilty, anxious and ashamed. You may believe it has to be that way. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that the way you feel is based on truth. You couldn’t be more wrong. You can redirect those thoughts with a bit of effort and practice. After all, it took you quite a while to train your brain to believe the worst and repeat all these negative stories. Start re-training, and just like building muscle in your body, positive thoughts will become easier.
TAKE CONSTRUCTIVE ACTION
When you find yourself feeling bad, that’s the time to get going. Try the following:
- Turn anxiety to action. When you find yourself really worrying intensely about something, do something to make it better. For instance if you’re worrying about a forthcoming exam, turn worry time into revising time. If you’re anxious about money, find something to sell on the Internet or look for ways to earn extra cash
- Do more of what you love. As long as what you really enjoy isn’t destructive in some way, do lots and lots of it. That feel-good factor fills your mind and heart with happy hormones, lifting your mood more and more
- Spend time with positive people, doing positive things. Of course you want to help your friends when they’re down but anyone who insists on catastrophising life, being relentlessly pessimistic or critical (especially if they’re criticizing you) must be avoided. Keep clear of drab places and don’t do anything very unpleasant unless it’s unavoidable
- Be grateful and make a note of it. We are realizing more and more the power of gratitude. It does something wonderful to your brain, turning your whole being into one big smile, and attracting more goodies to you. Write down all the things you’re grateful for in a special journal. Set yourself the challenge to write several a day. Soon you will find wonder in small things. The point also is that while you’re focusing on things to be grateful for, you’re getting your mind out of that negative rut
- Meditate or practice mindfulness. This lifts you out of the ordinary world and helps you to realise that there are other perspectives – even other worlds. Once you get your life in proportion you’ll be less likely to relapse
- Replace all those negatives with positives. When you find yourself saying what you can’t do, replace that thought with things you can. Instead of listing your faults, list the good things about you. If your self-esteem is low, you’ll get best results if you start small and modest – if you go over-the-top with the self-complimenting your subconscious is likely to rebel. Think of the little good things about yourself as small bricks that will make a beautiful building in the end.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We have looked at fear and what it creates. We have also listed a variety of strategies to banish negative thoughts. All of these can be very helpful, but there’s nothing like a boost from a warm, understanding and wise individual who can empathise with your needs. Our Readers fit the bill, so if you can’t pick yourself up, put in a call and get the support you need.
PUBLISHED: 22 August 2017