We’ve all fallen victim to the negative voices in our heads before. Sometimes, it’s self-doubt about our abilities at work that come creeping in, other times it’s of a more personal nature, and perhaps even more frequently it’s an embarrassing memory that pops into our minds right as we are trying to fall asleep at night. And though there is no real way to stop those thoughts from ever coming up again, there are methods to stave off negative thinking in our day-to-day lives.
Here are five expert pieces of advice for changing your mindset for the better.
Identify what makes you have negative thoughts in the first place
Clinical psychologist Dr. Jodi DeLuca shared with Elite Daily, it’s crucial to understand the different outside factors that may be causing your negative thinking.
“The key is to identify the triggers of your self-sabotaging thoughts, and to become aware of why you are thinking what you are thinking and to catch yourself doing so,” she said.
When you start to feel a negative thought taking over it’s time to think about what may have brought it on. This way, DeLuca said, “you have a better chance of catching yourself, turning negative self-statements into positive ones, and even preventing them.”
Recognize and face your thoughts
According to Frances McIntosh of Intentional Coaching LLC, if a negative thought is in your head it may be best to confront it.
“Practice becoming aware of when these thoughts come up. Are you tired, hungry, disappointed, stressed or something else? When we try to ignore negative thoughts, they don’t go away, they continue to pop up,” McIntosh told Forbes. “To counteract them, recognize them. Let your internal voice say, ‘I’m recognizing a negative thought; it’s a story I’m telling myself, and it’s not true.’ This squashes negativity pretty fast.”
Imagine your negative thought in a funny voice or let it float away
As psychologist Barbara Markway wrote in Psychology Today, it may be worth trying to reimagine your negative thoughts.
“Put each negative thought on a leaf and imagine it floating down a stream. When you have another thought, as you will, you put it on another leaf and watch it float by,” she wrote.
Additionally, Markway suggested trying to turn negative thoughts into funny ones. “Say them in a funny voice. Try saying your thoughts in a funny voice. Maybe do an imitation of a cartoon character.”
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Surround yourself with positivity
Are the people around you triggering your negative thinking? Then it may be time to find a new group of friends.
“Do you want to catch a cold? Get around people with a cold. I am not sure that advice still stands, but it certainly means something to me when coaching others,” John M. O'Connor of Career Pro Inc explained to Forbes. “I see a lot of people associating with like-minded and often negative people when they are trying to change something in their lives, like a job. Negative people are not optimistic. Get around positivity physically, through your ears and eyes.”
Consider getting a bit of professional help
If you find that negative thoughts are starting to overpower your mind it may be time to invest in your mental health and find a professional to assist you.
“Counseling is a great place to start,” Dr. DeLuca told Elite Daily. “Find an experienced licensed therapist to guide you through the process of changing your thought [patterns].” If you need a little help finding a licensed expert, try checking out Psychology Today’s national listings to find someone close to home. That way, you can banish those negative thoughts as soon as possible.