Minimise negative thoughts (I know it’s hard)

If we only have a certain number of thoughts per day, why do we give them to the negative. Why waste our time on the “I’m not good enough”, the comparisons and the self-deprecation. Why choose doom-and-gloom when we could choose joy?

It’s not that easy, I know. Negative thoughts have been traipsing round my mind for the past few days. Even unexpectedly popping up when things have been going so well. The negative voice tells me everything I’m doing wrong (or not quite right) and ignores the great big stuff I’m doing. It focuses on the problems, the unknowns and the worries. I hate it, which means I probably have something to learn from it.

I find the negative voice pops up whenever I’m doing well; when there’s growth, or change, or challenging moments. Perhaps it’s an innate part of these moments, an ingredient in the soil that promotes growth. I know when I accept negative thoughts, the gremlins, as they arise I can move on from them faster. Not accept them in the sense that I agree with them, but acknowledge they are there – let them sit at the table, maybe even have a cup of tea.

They can be there, but I don’t have to engage with them.

This is something I’m working on, acknowledging that I feel a certain way but not letting it take over. I can say “I’m grumpy and in a bad mood” then carry on with what I’m doing, or do something to help me feel better rather than wallowing in a pit on the sofa (in theory).

Minimise negative thinking is one of my Happiness Project resolutions for August. I know this isn’t easy, but I think it’s a valuable practice this noticing, but choosing not to pick up, a certain thought.

One of the things minimalising in a more material sense has taught me is that I am in control of the stuff I have. I can choose not to buy something if I take time to consider whether it will really add value to my life. I think it’s the same with thoughts. If I take time to stop and examine the different thoughts floating around in my head, I can choose not to engage with the negative ones that might bring me down.

It’s definitely challenging, those thoughts thump loud and heavy around in there. But it’s a practice I’m willing to commit to. And, sometimes, it just isn’t possible to not engage. On those days it’s okay, I think, to allow some time to sit with the thought. Perhaps to even schedule in time to do so, similar to how Gretchen Rubin suggests to make time to worry in her podcast. Allowing a bit of time for the thought, or thoughts, to be there actually minimises the impact they have on my day. I can be with them, and then I can leave them sulking on the sofa as I get on with things.

How do you deal with negative thinking? Have you tried minimising time spent on negative thoughts?

About ecarr

Ellen is a writer and theatre maker who has just taken the freelance plunge after too many years of 9-5 office life. She is a yoga teacher in training and passionate about pursuing your dreams.

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