Having negative thoughts and feelings is completely normal, it is a part of life. We all have negative thoughts, even those who are happy and live a good life.
During the day we think between 12 000 to 50 000 thoughts. Research shows that most of the thoughts we have are negative. We go on autopilot, and most of what we do has become routines and learned patterns.
We do not think about how we feel, nor do we take the time to stop and feel.
You’re having a tough time at work. There have been many challenges and tasks that you don’t had time to do anything about. You are stressed and tired, but never reach the finish line because constantly new tasks and demands appear. The negative thoughts take over. You may not sleep well at night, and when you wake up you still feel tired. You think about all the challenges from the day before, and dread going to work. One takes the other.
The more you make room for the negative thoughts, the bigger and stronger they become. This way, it is easy to get into a bad circle and get stuck in negative thoughts and feelings. And suddenly you feel that your everyday life is hard and gray. That doesn’t have to be the case.
You can learn coping strategies for reversing negative thoughts and find other ways to meet your challenges.
Here are 5 tips:
1) Get to know your thought pattern
Learn to be aware of when you fall into a negative thought pattern. Then it’s easier to do something about it.
Take a step back and ask yourself:
- When does your thoughts arise? Are there special situations that trigger it?
What kind of thoughts do you have?
– Thoughts of disaster, theres never enough time in the day for everything I need to do, I should do a better job, why can’t they stop bothering me, or maybe you give your inner critic too much space?
Put a label on your emotions:
– Now I’m worried … Now I’m stressed …, therefore I think negatively.
– Now I’m talking myself down because I’m not sure if I will be able to fix this.
2) Finding alternative thoughts
Do you have proof that they are true?
- What facts contradict the negative thoughts you have in this situation?
- Try to pretend that someone else, not you, is in this situation. What would you think then?
- Is there anyone who can help you next time you find yourself in a similar situation?
Are there other ways to look at this situation?
3) Shift your focus – turn your thought towards what gives you energy and joy
Don’t let stress, bad conscience or negative thoughts take over your everyday life. It’s easy to forget all the good things that happen during a day or a week.
When you replace negative thoughts with positive ones you will start to see results. It promotes well-being and makes you happier.
Starting to look for good moments is a great way to remind yourself of what matters in life. It can be small experiences that we take for granted. Like enjoying a cup of coffee before everyone else has got up, go for a walk in the woods or think of something or someone that makes you happy.
Enjoying something you have achieved gives you a feeling of mastery and better self-esteem.
4) Keep a record
You will reinforce the good feeling by starting to log the event. It makes you think through what you have experienced and what it did to you. In addition, you can go back and look at this later when you have a challenging time, just to remind yourself of all the good you have had or experienced.
As you begin to record positive events, a common experience is that the negative thoughts and feelings are weakened – just by virtue of recording this.
This is a simple research-based exercise that strengthens your mental health. It reduces depression and helps you deal with adversity.
5) Find coping strategies that works for you
In challenging situations, it can be useful to focus outwards instead of inwards on your own discomfort. You can achieve this with attention training.
You can counteract stress and negative thoughts with various help techniques.
Breathing exercise can, for example, have a relaxing and calming effect, while relaxation exercise can be helpful for tension in the body or worries.
Now and then you might try too hard to control your thoughts and feelings. Here is a technique you practice letting your thoughts and feelings flow without giving them resistance. This technique helps you become more aware of how you are feeling in the moment.