As per the National Science Foundation averagely 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day cross our minds. 80% of these thoughts are negative and 95% of them are repetitive thoughts. So more often than not we tend to do more of negative thinking than positive thinking. When you are in a negative state of mind, your view of the world, in general, gets distorted. So a cycle of negative thoughts brings about negative emotions which eventually lead to a series of negative actions.
Currently, living in some form of constant discontent, fear of uncertainty, and unease is almost considered normal. Consequently, tension, worry, anxiety, and stress are a socially standard form of mental illness. This has desensitized us to the extent of not finding the courage to look behind our fear and see the cause of our anxiety.
It is important to break this cycle as it can easily lead to a detrimental mental effect, depression, and anxiety. Overcoming negative thoughts is a process and always harnessing positivity can be a major struggle. Thankfully, there are effective and practical techniques that can help you stop the negative thinking and anxiety behaviour pattern.
5 Techniques to stop negative thinking and anxiety
- Recognizing your triggers
To avoid a negative spin of thoughts you need to know what sets the spin on, the environment, state of mind, and interactions that trigger this negativity.
Once you have recognized the triggers, work towards weakening and disarming them. What has always worked in weakening negative thoughts is countering it with a powerful positive thought.
- Thought to stop
Whenever you realize you are on the path of negative thoughts, STOP yourself from going down that road. Actively work towards actually saying the word out loud or if imagery works for you have the red stop sign picture whenever the intrusive thoughts occur. Some people count backwards 100 to 1, others splash water on their face, whatever works for you as long as the end result will disrupt the negative thoughts.
- Creating boundaries
Negative thinking and anxiety are patterns that can’t be stopped overnight. Honestly, it is unrealistic to expect an overnight change of thoughts and approach to life. One step at a time is what it takes and creating boundaries and enforcing them is essential to your change in approach.
Know who to stay away from, environments to keep off, and mindsets to keep off. Enforce the boundaries you have created and always be alert.
- Positive affirmations
Positive affirmations can be deployed to stop negative thoughts from streaming in. As soon as an anxious or negative thought pops up, declare an affirmation to put a brake on the thought. Affirmations are powerful tools to use when you want to reshape your thinking and improving your thoughts.
Celebrate the good in your life, make note of your positive traits and achievements, recite them and reinforce them.
- Symbolic write and destroy
Holding on to so much negative pent-up negativity is detrimental even to your physical wellbeing. Writing down your strong emotions like fears, anxiety, worries, and anger can be a way of letting it all out. Later on, you can destroy whatever you have written by either burning it, scribbling, tearing it up, etc. Destroying it is symbolic of committing to moving on.
This poem on anxiety always drives it home for me. It’s by Carson Alexander Defelice
He was the ocean; handsome, but yet, impulsively damaged.
He had a sandy heart to correspond his sandy eyes,
The moon dismantled that omitted pride he carried at a dead weight;
Shovelling and reshaping it, so people would see a sandcastle statue assembled in strength.
But his washed-up soul and unannounced insecurities were aware of its genuine purpose,
this beach alongside his pupils; quicksand, he’ll sink so slowly in.
Waves in his hair like ripples on his cheeks,
skipping stones land at his defeat, he left notes in bottles for you,
sank multiple ships for you,
because he hasn’t the heart to say he’s desiccating with the arrival of the stars…
Retracting scars are not too far from gasps for air,
foaming words of crisis by writing in the sand,
signalling a light as the last one in him died.
You wouldn’t understand, the calm before the storm, as valve after valve puncture him.
So intoxicating as it drains him, and from within, he’s drying out.
Sunburns stain him, a smile restrains him,
in an inescapable drought–