How to deal with negative thoughts even when you don’t realize you have them
Our thinking is always on automatic pilot. Thinking is something we don’t control. Our thought patterns respond to previous experiences that have stayed in our minds of earlier experiences. Negative thinking reflects on how you see yourself and the world around you.
Identifying your thinking patterns can be liberating. It can help anybody break negativity that keeps you down. You are creating these patterns by your own interpretation. It’s not the reality; it is your view of what is happening the makes you feel self-critical and judge things from a pessimistic view.
Repeat, notice and feel negativity
Some negative automatic thoughts are:
“What’s wrong with me?”
“I’m never going to change.”
“My life’s not going the way I want it to.”
As I repeat these words, I can feel the negative vibe from just saying them out loud. I don’t agree with these words about myself, but just the act of repetition makes me feel doubtful and uncertain.
Just imagine if you say these words to yourself frequently? If you keep repeating these sentences and phrases, think about your life’s emotional impact and how you decide.
One way to tackle these negative automatic thoughts is by identifying them. You can take time to pay attention to your pessimistic thinking and write it down. When you write it down, you will become more aware of the patterns you don’t see but affect your life and happiness.
Tracking my negativity for a day
Recently, I tracked my negative thinking. I did this for one day. I sat down and recalled significant things that happen in my day, my pessimism, and how my thinking made me feel.
I wrote my negative expectations about situations, and how it turns out I was wrong. I’m going to share with you a summary of some things I wrote.
- I thought someone would get angry at me because I made a mistake and they didn’t. Instead, the reaction was supportive and understanding.
- I thought I was going to get wet on my run and hesitated to go out. Still, I went out, and it didn’t rain at all. Not a drop.
- I was driving to a new place, and I thought I was going the wrong way. I got worried and forecasted the impact of not making it at all. In the end, I was driving in the right direction, and everything turns out well.
- I was taking someone to an appointment, and traffic was slow. I wandered and feel self-critical for not living earlier. What if she is too late for an appointment? It’s going to be hard to reschedule. At then and I got there on time.
- I thought I hadn’t set up a timer for my meditation. As I was meditating, I kept thinking about checking the phone many times. I ignored the urge. Suddenly the timer rings and of course I had turned it on.
- I was helping my daughter with some homework. I doubted a measurement that I gave her. I thought I was wrong. I said to her; you know I’m not very good at math. Maybe you should ask your Dad. In the end, the math measurement was correct.
Paying attention to my negativity was an enlightening experience. If I had not taken the time to do this exercise, I would not have noticed the most pessimistic expectations and how wrong my forecast is often. It surprised me how much unnecessary worry and stress I created with my thoughts.
Tracking your thinking can be very helpful for anyone that wants to reduce negativity and change it.
Looking at my negativity also made me realize it is possible to break pessimism. Now I’m more aware of it and can disrupt the cycle by questioning it. Maybe I’m right, but very like I could be wrong here again.