5 Tips to Eliminate Negative Mental Chatter
Imagine if we never had to deal with negative thoughts. If instead, we were always filled with confidence and a clear mind. Imagine if we always knew the right course of action to take and if fear was never a factor in our decisions.
Life would be much easier if this were the case, but unfortunately, we’re not perfect, we’re human. And so, we don’t always have it together. Sometimes we freak out, and our mind does find itself going down the rabbit hole, into an onslaught of negative thoughts – fearful, critical, skeptical thoughts.
In those moments, how do we get back on track? How can we rebound from a downward spiral that leaves us in a confused, depressed, jaded, cynical and dark place? As we vacillate between acceptance of or resistance against our negative thinking, we should take cover in the knowledge that for every perceived negative truth or reality, there are (at least) equally valid and more productive realities immediately available for our consideration. Even better, the very acknowledgment of a negative reality can shine a light on their more positive counterpart: acknowledgment of darkness is a tacit acceptance of light. Recognition of cold is also an awareness of heat. And should we find ourselves focused on a half-empty glass, we can also clearly see that the glass is half-full. It’s about shifting perceptions and a recognition that we’re not stuck in our thinking. We always have options.
Our mind is flexible, and with a little know-how, we can bend it in the direction of our choosing. Our ability to easily switch out a negative thought for a more productive thought or reality is one example. Here are five additional examples that can help eliminate destructive patterns of thought and emotion in real time.
Get the Blood Pumping with Exercise
When negative thoughts flood the mind consider using exercise to reset and recharge. Our thoughts and feelings are heavily influenced by the way we move. Exercise halts negative thought patterns because it demands our immediate and continuous attention and because it floods the body with mood-enhancing chemicals that can immediately lift our spirits, making us feel happier and more content. In happier, more content states we naturally gravitate to more positive thoughts and ideas and more proactive solutions.
Refocus the Mind
One practical way to get the mind off of something negative is simply to refocus it toward something else. Instead of attempting to stop the train of bad thoughts, just redirect the thoughts. Humans can do a lot, having more than one thought at a time isn’t one of them. A decision to focus on a new thought effectively eliminates all other thoughts from the mind.
An example of this method could be for us to draw our attention to the simple act of breathing. For 3-5 minutes we focus on nothing but our breath. After doing this for a few minutes we may begin to notice a lighter mood and less reactive mind.
Get Your Thoughts Out On Paper
The act of writing is therapeutic. Negative mental chatter is poison to the mind, body, and spirit. Getting our thoughts down on paper provides a release, a way to exorcise away the little monsters in our head and protect ourselves against the emotionally caustic effects of negative thinking. Writing also helps broaden our perspective and brainstorm solutions we otherwise may never have noticed or considered.
Distance Yourself from Your Thoughts
For most people, thoughts are connected to ego, as in, we think we are our thoughts. We are not. Our thoughts are not objective realities. Thoughts can be right or wrong, and that should have no bearing on our self-image. Recognition and acceptance of this truth can begin to lower the level of intensity and emotion brought on by negative thinking. Instead of fighting against a negative thought, we should simply acknowledge it as an independent, separate, and external entity and recognize the choice we have to either accept or reject it.
Use Exaggerated Visualizations
Chances are the negative thoughts floating around our heads are pretty ridiculous and very unlikely to happen. Still, they feel real. A counterintuitive way to release these negative thoughts and emotions is to delve deeper. We can use our imagination to take back control of our thinking and turn our negative thoughts high drama! Think Broadway, for example. Our imaginations get to play out like an exaggerated storyline, our main goal being to make the story as elaborate as possible. After some time we may notice our mind begins to shift from doom and gloom to a more positive state of mind.