Stop Negative Thoughts
Mental distress is a real killer. Not only does it create a lot of unnecessary bodily strain and tension, but it also keeps you from thinking about other things, it keeps you from focusing on both work and enjoyment, and in general takes you out of the moment and keeps you in a negative thought cycle.
You can dispel some negative thoughts by clearing your head with exercise, and sometimes you can distract yourself from thinking about negative thoughts, and other times you can visualize yourself in positive situations instead of repeating the negative images cycling through your head. Still, sometimes none of these methods work, and you just need to put a complete stop on those negative thoughts.
Thankfully, there are techniques that help you simply stop a thought cold. Not only do these methods afford some temporary relief as they eliminate the thought in your head, but over time and with repeated action, those thoughts will actually get weaker and weaker, making them less likely to return, and easier to dispel when they do return. Here’s one way to stop a negative thought.
-First, try and become aware and conscious of your negative thought. When you begin to run into that old, familiar destructive thought pattern, you need to take a mental step back, away from it, and recognize it for what it is. If it feels like it isn’t worth the energy that it consumes, take a good look at it from a distance. This is a crucial step in the process, and it sounds harder than it actually is. We all know it can be difficult to get any distance from our negative thinking, but one surefire way to become conscious of your thinking is to literally say the word “thinking” when the negative thought comes up. This is a real baby step, but it works. By saying the word “thinking” you acknowledge that you are in fact, just thinking- it’s just a thought, and it’s part of an active process. And once you recognize this, you will be better able to evaluate and control that active process.
-Next, you want to create a visual anchor, or a visual image that signifies the word STOP for you. It can be anything, as long as you associate it with the word stop. However, because we already have some strong associations with the word stop, it’s generally easier to simply use one of those cultural images, such as a red light or a big large STOP sign. Whatever you use, get this “stop” image into your head.
-Now, when you encounter the thought, step away from it and recognize it for what it is, yell “STOP” in your head, and visualize your stop anchor, your stop sign. Each time the negative image comes into your head, yell STOP in your head and throw up the sign. Often, especially at first, you might have to repeat this over and over again, as the negative image will probably keep returning a second later until you’ve licked it.
-A good method to keep the negative thought from returning is to find a positive thought to replace it. Yell STOP in your head, throw up the stop sign, and immediately insert the positive thought. Essentially, you’re trying to clear the space in your head and then quickly fill it with something positive and healthy.