Learning to notice what you are thinking is only the first step in what could be a huge change in your life. First the what – to notice what negative and unhelpful thoughts you may be thinking. Then notice why you are thinking in this way, and then how you could stop. How to stop thinking negatively and change your thinking to a more positive and productive style.
Why? Because if you have been negative, pessimistic and unhappy so far, ask yourself “Do I really want to continue in this way?” Or do you want to be optimistic and have a more positive outlook on life. It’s a no brainer really!
Ask yourself a few important questions!
- Usually when people are unhappy or angry they are blaming the wrong thing or the wrong person, or themselves. Not good.
- They don’t usually look to their own irrational and negative thoughts as the probable cause of the distress. If you’re running the “they should change” rather than “I need to change” scenario in your head, have another think. There’s no need to blame anyone, you just need to change the way you think. What are you thinking?
- For example: if you are thinking “He should not have parked in that spot – he could see I wanted it!” What a so and so! He’s ruined my whole day now.
- Notice the should or shoulds in your thinking patterns. Shoulds are very similar to the musts we think. They are our demands about how life or things, or people should be or should behave according to our little set of rules.
- So if you are often thinking in terms of should or musts, and insisting that your demands be met, then you will be unhappy and frustrated.
Are you fond of catastrophising?
- In the example above you think this person who has stolen “your” parking space has also “ruined your whole day” and he’s a “so and so” too!
- That is an example of catastrophising, where a person gives much more importance to a small event than it should get. In addition, using words and phrases like “I was gutted” or “I was devastated” are really for something truly devastating, not for a small annoying event. If you think in this way then you will be more upset; you actually upset yourself and then blame someone else for your upset feeling.
How to stop your negative thinking?
- It takes time, but it is worth the effort. First you have to get used to monitoring your thoughts and feelings. Your feelings, if disturbed, will give you a clue to look at your thoughts which are usually disturbed too.
- A quick way to stop is to know what you are thinking that is not helpful, and say “stop!” and then substitute a more helpful thought.
- You can ask yourself some questions to help yourself change the negative thinking. For example you can ask yourself whether the other person who “stole” your parking place actually saw you in the first place. He or she may not have done so. Just accept that it happened, and get on with looking for another park rather than getting yourself into a panic or a rage.
- You can also ask yourself whether it is the “end of the world” if you don’t get that parking spot. It may be very inconvenient, but not a catastrophe. You know from past experience, that if you drive around a bit you will eventually get one. If you didn’t allow enough time for this, then learn from the experience!
There’s very much more to learning how to change those negative thoughts, but use the tips above to get you started on that change.