I would guess that everybody at some time or other has negative thoughts. But they bother some of us much more than others. These people gradually start to think about the world and / or themselves with a negative focus.
Thoughts can have a direct link to feelings, and negative thoughts can make us feel unhappy, worthless, etc., especially when we can fall into the habit of thinking negatively.
These thoughts can even be distorted, making them even more unhelpful:-
- All or nothing – a situation is either black or white. “I didn’t beat my personal best in the gym, and so the training session was a waste of time.”
- Over-generalising – the situation will always stay the same “I didn’t pass the exam this year, so I’ll never pass it.”
- Filtering – only noticing negative details about a situation “The restaurant served the food late, and there was no bread” – ignoring the fact that the meal was beautifully presented and cooked, and several sauces were served with it.
- Jumping to conclusions – assuming that something in the future will be negative (without supporting evidence) “I won’t get the job, as I’m sure there is a candidate from within the company. The interviews are just a sham.”
- Magnifying or minimising – exaggerating the negative and minimising the positive “I got one answer wrong in the exam, so I’m no good at that subject” or “It was a fluke that I passed that exam.”
- Should, must, ought, etc. – blaming yourself (or others) when you (or they) don’t do what you think should be done “We should all donate to charity – my friend didn’t do this and so she’s no good”
- Labelling – turning one event into a label for you or others “My girlfriend has been late once for a date this year, so she’s unreliable.”
- Personalisation – blaming yourself or others for an event caused by an external reason “It rained on the day of my party – I can’t choose the correct date for anything.”
Unhelpful, negative thoughts can be fleeting, and difficult to “catch”, but we can improve our ability to detect and deal with them with practice.
If you would like to have a chat about how you can beat negative thinking, please give Lisa a call on 0403 9323411 or book a chat at a time that suits you.
Often the first sign of negative thinking is feeling “down” or “worried” in general:-
- You might become aware that you are feeling worried
- You can then realise what you are thinking about is causing the worry – e.g. “I’ve got a meeting tomorrow with my boss about the department performance last month. She won’t be happy with the decrease in the amount of work done.”
- One of the best ways to counteract this is come up with one or more alternative, more positive (but realistic) thoughts, e.g. “I can tell her that two staff were sick and we were unable to get replacements. Given the number of staff that were working, we each did more work than normal.”
- These alternative thoughts should lead to more positive feelings, e.g. in the example above maybe still a bit of concern (the boss can still be annoyed), but also confidence in explaining the reasons for decrease in work completed.
Noticing (and catching) unhelpful negative thoughts does become easier with practice. When you are feeling “down” and are not sure why, pause and consider what you’re thinking, and go though the above process. It should help. By encouraging you to think of the reasons for feeling worried or “down”, it could even generate ideas for resolving the original situation.
If you would like to have a chat about how you can beat negative thinking, please give Lisa a call on 0403 9323411 or book an obligation-free chat on how to start the New Year with a New You! Click the button below for more information.