I’m an over-thinker at the best of times, but add in a stressful situation and I quickly spiral into a pattern of negative thinking. My brain will turn a bad day at work into losing my job and never being able to get another one, all in the space of 60 seconds.
I tend to fall into very black and white thinking patterns and leap to worse case scenarios. I take responsibility for things that aren’t really within my control, and decide I can mind-read (they think I’m boring etc).
Apparently, this is quite normal and reflects the way we are wired. However, I do believe that given our brains develop throughout our lives, then our neural pathways can be changed.
These are a few ways I keep my negative thoughts at bay.
1. Label your thoughts when they come in to recognise they’re just a thought and not the truth. Tell your brain, this is just a thought so it starts to take them less seriously.
2. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. It’s the best thing for turning my thoughts around and seeing a positive in a situation.
3. Keep a compliments folder. I can probably repeat verbatim the majority of unpleasant comments I’ve had over the last five years. Can I remember any of the good ones? No, not really. It’s time to start keeping a record.
4. Remember you’re probably not the most important person in someone else’s world. Is everyone really that concerned with what you’re doing or do they have their own problems and their own life? Try to get a sense of perspective.
5. Do something positive for yourself. Read a book, light a candle, run a bath – anything to try switch off and give yourself a break
6. Practice mindfulness. Negative thoughts tend to be around what could happen in the future. Mindfulness teaches us to be present and live in the moment.