Are you one of the millions of people who have more than your fair share of negative thoughts? This is a very common issue, and there are a number of things you can do to change this uncomfortable thinking pattern.
First of all, blaming yourself for this problem will only make it worse, so if you are doing this, please stop. It’s not your fault. Most people don’t know why they process their thoughts in a negative way. A lot of it can be rooted in brain or body chemistry. But while our feelings and our thoughts about them would seem to be out of our control, that’s not the whole truth.
If you’ve decided to tough it out, it may be that your negative thinking has been making it difficult for you to see what’s best for you. You won’t be able to enjoy your life this way, so I urge you to reconsider. I suggest seeing your medical doctor or a therapist and letting them know what you are dealing with. A medical workup is always a good place to start, and your doctor may have some good practical advice.
Many people take medication to control unwanted or disturbing thoughts and moods and, if the drugs work, are grateful for their discovery. Unfortunately, some conditions don’t respond well to drugs, and the side effects of medication can also be very difficult to deal with. Luckily, there are some alternatives to taking medication that may work well for you.
If your negative thoughts tend to come mostly at night — you lie in bed and beat yourself up for every little mistake you think you’ve made during the day — you can counter this tendency with some positive self-talk. Force yourself to look at what is going right. Stay with those positive thoughts as long as you can, and it will help you fall asleep more peacefully.
Likewise, if your negative thinking tends to start in the morning, lying in bed is not your best choice. Even though you may have little energy, getting up and getting yourself moving will help the thoughts dissipate. Many people exercise early in the day to help get positive endorphins moving through their brains; others meditate or use some other technique to give themselves a boost. If you make the effort, you will likely be rewarded by more calming and positive thoughts entering your mind.
If negative thoughts hang on throughout the day, however, you should probably see a professional and get some counseling, if you haven’t done so already. Most of us can distract ourselves from uncomfortable feelings and thoughts by just doing what is in front of us, but not everyone can refocus at will. If disturbing feelings continue to bother you, you most likely need some additional support. And there is no shame in that.
Don’t let negative thoughts keep you from living a full life. Get proactive and see that changing your thinking is within your control.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. is an award-winning psychotherapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of 8 books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 35 million readers. He is available for in-person & video consults world-wide, reach him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com