21 Sep The Art of Dealing With Negative Thinking
Negative thinking is something that we all experience, no-one is immune to it and you can never get rid of it completely. The only difference between the people who are heavily impacted by it and those who aren’t is that they know how to deal with them.
The number one rule to remember when it comes to negative thinking is that you are not your thoughts, thoughts are just thoughts, they’re not who you are.
Bad things always happen in life and you’re allowed to feel down and sad when they do, that’s all part of being human. It’s only when negative thoughts start to really impact our lives and stop us from truly living that we must do something about them.
We’re taught many things in life, but how to deal with something like negative thinking isn’t one of them. Fortunately for us, there are proven ways to reduce the impact those thoughts have on us.
HOW IT GETS SO BAD
In my experience, the number one reason negative thinking impacts people in a bad way is, for the most part, those thoughts go uncontrolled. When the negative thoughts enter the mind, we don’t have a plan for how to deal with them effectively.
When we don’t take any action to deal with these thoughts other than saying to ourselves, “I’m just being stupid” or “think positive” our mind pretty much accepts these thoughts as true.
When we don’t do anything to deal with negative thoughts as soon as they arrive, they can begin to run rampant in our mind. If we make no attempt to reduce the impact they hold, over time they pick up steam, they continue to grow and before we know it, our minds automatically jump to these “what if” scenarios.
Why does our mind automatically do that? because it’s become a habit. When any behaviour is repeated enough, it becomes a habit and begins to unravel sub-consciously. That’s why it can feel like your mind just automatically jumps to these negative thoughts.
If you want to know more about them how habits work and to change them, I wrote a free guide on them HERE.
NEGATIVE THINKING HABITS
When we’re born, we don’t automatically have a negative thinking problem, it’s a habit we’ve built over time. It’s just like procrastination or worrying. People aren’t natural worriers or procrastinators, they just have deeply ingrained habits of worrying/procrastinating.
Our minds will always attempt to make any behaviour a habit, which is actually for our benefit, but the only problem with this is that the mind can’t actually tell the difference between good behaviour and bad behaviour.
So when negative thoughts come in and we don’t make any effort to deal with them, our mind picks up this behaviour pattern of basically welcoming them in. The more the pattern plays out, the more our mind attempts to make this a habit.
Once it becomes a habit, that’s when you start to feel a bit powerless to them. The only way to get rid of a bad habit is by replacing it with a better one. So to reduce the power negative thinking has in our lives, you’ve got to build a new habit of dealing with the thoughts straight away.
The more you do this new behaviour, the more the mind will try to replace the old with the new one. If you do it enough, it will start to become a sub-conscious and once it gets to that stage, as soon as negative thoughts arrive, your mind will begin dealing with them.
Below is the exact process I’ve used to reduce the impact negative thoughts have on my life. It’s a small 3 step process and is super easy to do.
THE THREE STEP (DRC) METHOD
When the negative thoughts come in, defuse the power they have by accepting they’re just thoughts and nothing else. Then to stop those thoughts from picking up any steam, outline (verbally if possible) why that negative thought is unreasonable, why it doesn’t make sense, why it’s illogical or why there’s no evidence to back it up.
E.g. “I’m terrible at writing articles”. Defuse with – “I haven’t had anyone tell me I’m terrible at writing articles” or “none of the feedback I’ve got indicates that statement”.
You’ve defused the initial power those the negative thoughts have, now it’s time to go on offense. You want to change the content of that thought from a negative to a positive. You can outline any evidence of why something will work out, why you’re going to succeed or outline the benefits can come from the given situation.
E.g. “All the feedback I’ve got back from my articles has been really good”, “The more I write, the better I’m getting” and “People are choosing to read these articles”.
This step is all about getting back to the task at hand, it’s not distracting yourself from the thoughts, it’s continuing to live your life. This sends the signal to your mind that you’ve dealt with that situation, you shut it down – its a wrap.
E.g. Bring the focus back to the task at hand and continue living.
Using this 3 step process once isn’t magically going to get rid of all the negative thoughts you have in life. If this is a deeply engrained sub-conscious habit, you’re going to have to put in the work – it’s not going to happen overnight.
But if you complete this new behaviour enough, I guarantee you’ll notice the difference. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where a negative thought will come in and your mind will automatically defuse it, replace it and get back to living.