As mere mortals, we all have faults. In fact, none of us are perfect. No, this isn’t a conversation about theology. I am speaking about the words we use to describe ourselves. All people use words to convey to others how they feel.
What about thoughts?
Our thoughts tell us about our life and how to live. They tell us how we are and how we should be. And they tell us what to do and what to avoid. However, most of our thoughts are neither true nor false. Instead, our thoughts become: opinions, judgments, beliefs, theories, attitudes, and ideals – to name a few.
But sometimes our thoughts become extremely self-defeating.
This is commonly referred to as negative self-talk, or negative thinking. Despite our best efforts, we often react to our thoughts as if they are the absolute truth. It’s like reading a story from Facebook or the National Enquirer and believing that the thoughts we’re reading are always true. Ha! I think we all know we can’t assume that everything we see or read is 100% factual. Well, it’s the same situation with our thoughts.
Is negative thinking helpful?
When you tell yourself that you’re worthless, does that boost your self-esteem? Of course not. When you approach a task or an event thinking about failing, does that help? Of course not. When you think you’re worthless and a failure, does that encourage you to get out and try new things? Of course not.
What happens when you are thinking this way?
When you start combining your thoughts into your reality, then what you’ve been thinking suddenly becomes who you are right now. When you regard your thoughts as factual, then you begin to believe them. When you begin thinking all of those negative thoughts are important, then you start dedicating all of your time to them. Very quickly, your thoughts begin to take the driver’s seat and run your life. You become a passenger on a ride that is not helping you at all.
It’s important to ask whether your thoughts are helpful.
You have to ask yourself some specific and necessary questions. Does this thought help me make the most of my life? Does this thought make me feel good about myself? Does this thought help me achieve the things I want in my life? If your answer is “no” to any or all of these questions, then it’s time to reconsider the thought you are harboring. Yes, you are in control of your thoughts.
It is important to spend time “freeing yourself from the oppression of your thoughts; freeing up your time, energy, and attention so you can invest them in meaningful activities rather than dwelling uselessly on your thoughts.” –The Happiness Trap, p. 53.
You need to stop believing your thoughts.
It is important to remember that your thoughts are only words, stories or bits of language. You don’t have to obey them. You don’t have to pay attention to them. And you most definitely don’t need to follow the direction or path of your thoughts.
The most critical part is when you start attaching your negative thinking to a specific story or memory in your head and then reacting as if the whole thing is true. The event is negative and your thoughts are negative. Suddenly, there is no separation between the two. In fact, you end up becoming the event. Remember your thoughts are merely words.
Do you remember the childhood song, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” (How many of you sang it while you read it?) It is so true. For every thought, or word you are consuming, you can find an antonym. Remember, an antonym is a word that is the direct opposite. I know what you’re thinking, “Yeah, that sounds nice, but it’s not that easy.” I know, believe me, been there done that! Still working at it!
In part 2 you’ll learn why and how to change your negative thoughts! Stay tuned!
11 thoughts on “Rid Yourself of Negative Thinking”
Julie, Yes it is so important to be mindful of our thoughts and specifically whether they are helpful or not. This is a topic that comes up in my therapy office every working day. So often people have ingrained negative thoughts about themselves, but when we start to break them down in the therapy office they realize how inaccurate their thinking is.
You are most definitely correct! I’m not the professional, you are. My post comes from over 20 years of experience in therapy and personal growth. I truly believe, at this point in my life, if one is willing to change, then change is possible. Thank you for the work you do with others!
Self limiting beliefs can get in the way for so many people, but beliefs are all they are and can be changed, although it takes a fair bit of work and that is why many people remain as they are, it’s easier that way, looking forward to part 2
You are so correct. Unfortunately, too many people look for the easy way, the pop a pill approach. If someone really wants to change and to improve their life, then they have to be open and willing to do the work. It isn’t easy, that’s for sure. It’s taken me a long time and I don’t think we ever stop. Hopefully, it starts to get easier.
Needs constant vigilance in my case. I have recently become aware that there’s something in me wants to hold on to the negative even given the opportunity to let the thoughts go. An amazing realisation. Funnily enough just noticing it has made a difference.
How amazing are we!
I believe that the challenge of monitoring our negative thoughts is a life time journey. Notice I didn’t say struggle. That, to me, is the key point. If we think of it as a struggle, then we are doomed! Keep up the good fight and continue along your journey!
I’ve always believed that there is great power in your words. If you speak good things about yourself you will start to believe them.
You are so correct! It sounds so simple, but it is so true!
The more I blog my brother’s life I am learning that he became his thoughts. Our thoughts are just so powerful, positive or negative, they grow and and seem to become self fulfilling prophecies.
This is a great piece. Thank you.
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Yes indeed, we can very easily become what we think. Our mind is an amazing organ. Thank you for the compliment. PS. Thank you for following me!
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