Negative thoughts. The whole world is against me. I am a total failure. I will never succeed. This is not for me. It never worked for me before. I suffered already so much. My whole life is a mess….
In several speeches Tony Robbins was saying that if you feel bad, “divorce your story!”. In one of the psychology articles I’ve read there was a lengthy explanation of how negative thinking affects our brain and body almost to the point of creating an actual physical damage. Imagine: an actual physical damage! Like – you literally break down your own body by all that negativity going through your head! Not a good thing to do, right?
The only question is: how the hell do you stop negative thinking when everything seems to just be falling at you?
To begin with, what are negative thoughts?
On many occasions stuff we ponder about in our heads, stuff we are worried about does not exist yet. There is just a possibility that it might occur some time in the future. It could be that there is indeed a big chance that it will actually happen, still it did not happen yet. If we are worried about something like that, we are actually making up the script. Stop. Don’t forget that there is also such thing as self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe in something strong enough and keep on rehearsing that story, you increase the likelihood of it becoming true. Are you sure that’s what you want?
Another category of negative thoughts is our regrets, concerns and pain related to events in the past. Also here our brain is playing some tricks. After something happened you start telling yourself a story of that event. It is that story, not the event itself, which ultimately becomes our memory. As accurate as you might think it is, certain emotions might have been exaggerated in the course of repeating your story over and over again.
The bottom line is – you are the author of your negative thoughts! You are the grand-master who is writing your stories! That means that you also have the power to change your script. And what I am talking about has nothing to do with pink glasses and unicorns pooping out rainbows. I don’t say that you should ignore the problems, put on the fake smile and start telling everyone how great everything goes with you. I do say, however, stop exaggerating and inventing additional problems for yourself.
To answer how can you do it, I have the “recipe” which always works for me: write it down.
Create a notebook especially for that purpose and start writing your negative thoughts down. Boom! I talked about it already in To write or not to write: why it is a good idea to write things down? but I will repeat it over and over again: write things down!
When your worries are on paper they seem less gigantic. In fact they might seem not so big at all. Furthermore, once your negative thoughts are on paper, you can do two things:
- you can actually physically rewrite your script. Even if at first it seems not genuine, not true, whatever. You say “I might lose my job”, strike it through, write “I am keeping my job or I am finding my dream job instead”. You say “I have been a loser for my whole life”, strike it through, write “I had a lot of lessons in my life, now I know…” and write out what you learned and how you grew.
- you can analyze your concerns. Just perform a cold strategic risk analysis. Threats, possible ways to overcome them, possible pitfalls, possible ways how to recuperate. Put everything on paper.
Once you have written out your negative thoughts, once you got them out of your head and rewritten your script, breathe out and promise not to betray yourself again, not to put yourself down by rehearsing the wrong story. So… “de-negativize”, cheer up and move on!