5 Healthy Ways to Deal with Negative Thinking - Nick Wignall
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Just because you’re having negative thoughts doesn’t mean something’s wrong. In fact, negative thinking can be a very good thing!
What you want to watch out for is a specific type of negative thinking that is unhelpful.
Your brain’s primary job is to keep you safe and that requires some negative thinking.
Instead, save your energy for identifying and managing unhelpful or unrealistic negative thinking, which from here on out is what I’m referring to by negative thinking.
Everybody gets stuck in negative thinking from time to time:
Unfortunately, the way most people try to deal with their negative thinking is completely unhealthy and only makes the problem worse in the long term.
The content of your thoughts determines the content of your moods:
Negative thinking can lead to painful emotions, but painful emotions can also be a trigger for negative thinking (and more painful emotion!)
So it’s worth identifying which emotions or moods tend to make you more susceptible to unhelpful negative thinking patterns.
Cognitive distortions are errors in thinking that lead to unnecessarily painful and prolonged emotions.
We all fall into cognitive distortions from time to time. And while you probably can’t avoid them altogether, you can get much better at noticing them.
Anytime you feel your mood dropping or some difficult emotion intensifying, ask yourself:
What was I thinking just now? What thoughts led to this shift in emotion or mood?
Write down that self-talk on paper and look for any cognitive distortions. Once you find some, calmly and nonjudgmentally identify which they are
Most people are in the habit of only thinking about their negative thinking when it shows up.
The best time to do hard, important work is when you’re feeling good, not when your life is falling apart!
And this principle applies to negative thinking as well.
Instead, you need to practice and prepare for it. And that means taking some time to intentionally confront your negative thinking head-on so that you can get to know it and make a real plan for navigating it at the moment.
If you understand what types of situations or events are most likely to trigger negative thinking, you can avoid a lot of negative thinking before it even happens.
Identify the triggers for negative thinking, deal with those triggers more directly, and you won’t experience nearly as much negative thinking in the first place.
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How can we deal with negative thinking? Psychology suggests that we should try to train our minds to think more positively about what happens to us.