Get rid of negative thinking
Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty type of thinker? To be fair, all of us think negatively from time to time. Something happens and it flits through our minds that the results of it will be bad, or uncomfortable, even though we're aware there is no particular reason that things won’t turn out well. The problem with negative thinking is that it can take over. From being an occasional, fleeting thought, it can become overwhelming, and feel as if it’s out of your control.
What are negative thinking styles?
- All or nothing thoughts - if it’s not perfect there's no point
- Unhelpful generalisations - I always do everything wrong
- Filtering - noticing only negative parts of your experience, missing the things that go well
- Ignoring positives - noticing the positives but assuming that somehow they 'don’t count'
- Jumping to negative conclusions - by thinking you know what others will do or say, or what will happen in the future
- Catastrophising/awfulisations - unrealistically making things worse than they are, 'I
- Emotional reasoning - assuming our emotions are telling us facts such as 'I feel overwhelmed so I there's nothing I can do'
- Rules - making these for ourselves and others without taking circumstances or practicalities into account, usually identified when you’re using words like 'must', 'should', 'ought to'
- Labelling - using generalised (and generally unfair) negative words for ourselves or others, e.g. stupid, useless
- Blame - taking on too much responsibility for something, or not enough
How to deal with negative thoughts
The good news is that negative thinking can be stopped. It may take a bit of effort, but if you’re prepared to work at it, you can put yourself back in control.
Here are some of my top tips:
- Look for evidence that your thoughts are unrealistic. Compare what you're afraid may happen with what’s most likely to happen.
- Challenge your negative thoughts by adding the word 'but' and a more positive thought. For example, if you think 'my partner's late home, maybe they’ve had an accident' the challenge could be 'my partner's late home, maybe they’ve had an accident, BUT it’s more likely they’re caught in traffic'.
- Make an effort to notice the good stuff that happens. At the end of each day think of something that went well, or that you were pleased with: it doesn’t have to be huge, simple things will do like finishing a job on time, finding a parking space at a busy time of day, getting a bargain, doing a good turn for someone else, or having someone show you an act of kindness.
- Take time regularly to relax, do something you enjoy.
- Talk it out, speak to a friend or someone you trust. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a professional, in which case I’d be happy to help.
If you find that you are still struggling, hypnotherapy can be helpful for many people. Please contact me and ask for information on how I can help. My number is 01977 678593.
Debbie Waller is a professional hypnotherapist, specialising in stress, anxiety and related issues. She also offers EMDR which is used for trauma, PTSD, phobias and OCD and publishes hypnotherapy-for-ibs.co.uk for those interested in using hypnotherapy to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Debbie owns a multi-accredited hypnotherapy school, Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training and offers further training for qualified therapists via CPD Expert. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words, editor and contributor to the online magazine Hypnotherapy Training & Practitioner, and co-author of The Hypnotherapy Handbook.
For more information on any of these services, phone 01977 678593.
Researcher & drafter: Rachel Waller.