1/13/2016

Posted by Dr A in | 1/13/2016 No comments


Every person will have negative thoughts at some point in time which are usually short lived and get resolved after some time. When the negative thoughts persist and become overwhelming or start interfering with a person's daily routine, is when it becomes a problem that needs intervention.

Intervention could mean seeking professional help by mental health experts or/and self management. 

Here, will focus on self management of the negative thoughts. What you can do to help yourself from these negative thoughts:
  1. Have an insight.
  2. Dig out the root cause of these thoughts.
  3. Replace them with positive thoughts.
  4. Reinforce positive thoughts.
Let's look at each of these in details.
1. Have an insight.
Knowing and accepting that you have a problem and its depth is always a stepping stone to any problem solving. If you accept the problem then only it will be logical to go ahead and look for its solution. Hence having an insight is a problem half solved!

2. Dig out the root cause of the negative thoughts.
This can be a bit uncomfortable.  When you are having many negative thoughts, sometimes it becomes necessary to sit down with them and 'filter' through to see which one is the loudest and the most troubling one. Usually the rest of the thoughts are built on and around this particular one.

Our thoughts are based on our judgement and opinions of the external world.

Suppose your negative thought is 'People want me dead.' Ask yourself these questions:
Is this thought true? If so, what is the evidence?
Will my best friend or spouse or mother agree with it? If not, why not? What are their reasons for calling this thought false? Is this thought important?
Is this thought useful?
Why am I having this thought? Try and recall past events to which you may be relating this thought. Tell yourself that these are your beliefs, worries and fears and the more you listen to them the more realistic they will start to sound.

Learn to dissociate yourself from your thoughts. Remember you are not the thought. If your negative thought is, 'I am a loser.' Tell yourself that, 'You are having a thought that you are a loser.' There is a difference!

3. Replace the negative with positive thoughts.
Before you do this, you need to let go of your negative thoughts. There are many ways to do this, most of which aim at making your negative thoughts appear silly, useless and baseless enough not to deserve a place in your mind.

Here are some of the things you can do to get rid of these negative thoughts.

  • Close your eyes and place your thoughts on imaginary balloons and let them fly off. See them fly off in your mind's eye and feel the happiness it gives you. You may smile everytime a negative thought leaves your mind.
  • You may turn your thoughts into a song.
  • You may voice them out in a funny way.
  • You may write them down on a piece of paper and let the water wash them away cleansing your mind off them.
Now that your mind is lighter, let's see how we can convert the weakening negative thoughts to positive ones.

Suppose your thought is 'My business is never going to prosper.'  Reframe this thought into a positive one and say it aloud, 'I will do my best to make my business a successful one.' The idea is to reframe negative thoughts as they come and change them from a problem to an opportunity. The more you practice the more easier it gets.

Do not view thoughts in black and white. Most of the time we think in terms of all or nothing like you could be thinking, 'He did not respond to my call because he hates me.' Consider another possibility like, 'He could be busy and I will try to call him later.' Do not jump to conclusions easily without cross checking your assumptions.

My personal favourite quote is "Everything happens for the best". This encourages me to try and see the brighter aspect of a problem. Not always are we able to see the good that could be hidden in a problem. During such times I tell myself that even though the situation looks bleak right now, I am sure some good will come out of it later.

You may memorize your favourite positive quote and say it aloud everytime you have a depressive thought or situation.

Writing down your positive thoughts in a diary and going through them frequently helps build positivity.

4. Reinforcing the positive thoughts

  • By simply practising the writing, reading and thinking positive over and over again everytime you feel a negative thought is creeping up your mind can reinforce positivity. Remember that, you will always have negative thoughts,  we all do. Just learn to let them go and keep the mental traffic clear. You aren't weak just because you are having a repetition of them.
  • Keep yourself busy. As the common saying goes: Empty mind is a devil's workshop, it is good to keep doing  pleasurable activities in your free time. You may plan your daily activities to include reading a good book, watching funny shows, reading jokes or positive quotes, exercising or playing your favourite sport or talking to your friend.
  • Remember that a healthy body harbours a healthy mind. To keep yourself fit is of utmost importance and hence you must eat well, drink plenty of water, sleep atleast 7 to 8 hours a day and exercise regularly. If you are on any medications for health reasons do take them regularly and be in touch with your health professional as adviced. 
  • Go easy on yourself. Forgive yourself whenever you make a mistake.  It's in human nature to err. Learn to let bygones be bygones. Dwelling on the past and worrying about the future simply wastes your present. Learn to enjoy your present moments.
  • Appreciate yourself daily. Stand in front of a mirror and say affirmative things to yourself like 'I am going to be successful.' 'People find me charming.' 'I am confident.' 'Nothing is permanent, not even my problems.' Smile more frequently, it is a fastest mood booster.
  • Congratulate yourself on your daily achievements. Set goals for good deeds and treat yourself upon completing them. For example you could help needy or distribute sweets to school children or spend sometime in an orphanage/mentally or physically challanged institute. This way it gives you a chance to realize your virtues and be grateful for what you have. Realising that others have bigger problems than yours automatically makes your problems seem insignificant and silly enough to magnify.

A critical point to note is: if you are having suicidal thoughts or thoughts which involves destruction, violence and harm to others than it is time to seek a mental health professional's advice without further delay.




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