Negative Thinking – Breaking the Cycle

What is Negative Thinking?

Negative thinking is the habit many of us get into that involves assuming that present or future will turn out badly. Or, it can be a habit of thinking about past events in a negative way – and not focusing on the good. Negative thinking is an easy habit to form and ends up really effecting people in a relentless manner. Once those negative thoughts get going, they can have a cascading-type effort. Negative thinking leads to anxiety, depression, and poor relationships with others. They get in the way of enjoying life and the people in our lives!

How to Stop Negative Thinking?

How do you then stop this run away train? Well, it is doable and needs some practice but it is worth the effort. It takes a number of small, deliberate efforts that are easy to learn but need to be practiced deliberately. Most people have already tried to simply ignore the negative thinking – but have found that strategy doesn’t work. In fact, this ‘ignore it’ strategy might even makes those negative thoughts worse!

Instead, start by using some basic Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, techniques.  CBT uses a ‘dysfunctional thought record’ tool to begin recording thoughts, feeling and behaviours. This tool can help you better look at thoughts in an objective way to better challenge if they are legitimate or instead feeding off of negatively.

It also involves purposefully using more positive responses to the negative thoughts you have. It will at first seem strange to do this and a bit artificial but over time, it pays off. The alternative and more balanced thoughts will begin to become more automatic and will change your everyday experiences. One thought at a time!

An Example of How to Stop Negative Thinking

Here’s a example using “Sally”. Sally wants to change her negative thinking related to her school performance. She knows that her inside voice often says “I always do lousy in school. I’m no good at it”. In using CBT, Sally makes a conscious effort to notice this negative thought and follow it with something like “Hey, that is not true! There are many courses I enjoy and do well in. I am NOT lousy at school”. This is the inner dialogue that Sally uses to break the cycle of her negative thinking. It takes time, it takes practice, and it might feel weird at first but research shows that CBT works to stop negative thinking.

Lastly, research also shows that this approach works particularly well using body type relaxation exercises. That is, what you can do in the body can show up in your mood. For example, making yourself smile, even when you don’t feel like it, actually improves your own mood, lowers your anxiety, cheers you up, and relaxes the physical body to slow down one’s negative thoughts.

Waypoint Counsellors can Coach you in Stopping Negative Thinking

This is a short article that only touches on how to stop the train of negative thoughts and lower anxiety. And the technique described is only one strategy that works. Many people find that finding a good counsellor trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help them get on the right track to stop negative thinking. At Waypoint, we have a team of Registered Clinical Counsellors and can match you to the most appropriate therapist for your needs and your personal style. We have counsellors in the Greater Victoria area, Vancouver, and the Lower Mainland. You can check out our team and select a counsellor OR you can contact us and we will personally match you to the counsellor that is the best fit. Either way, you then book a meeting with the counsellor in person or over the phone for 30 minutes to see if the “fit” feels right. At Waypoint, we know that that the right “fit” can lead to better and faster results. So, turn negative thinking on its head – and start to improve your mood, reach your goals, and enhance your relationships with others.

Photo by Anthony Tori on Unsplash

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