How to Stop Negative Thoughts and Take Control of Your Mindset
Our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are inseparably linked. As a result, negative thoughts can wreak havoc on your mental health, relationships, work, and every other aspect of your life.
For example, negative thinking can lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, and the inability to make and keep good relationships.
The key to overcoming negative thoughts is recognizing them when they appear in your mind and understanding the problems they cause. Then you can use strategies to stop negative thoughts and take control of your mindset.
Where Do Our Negative Thoughts Come From?
Our negative thoughts come from our pessimistic, fixed, or helpless mindset.
Your inner chatter can occur at any time, whether in the car on the way to work, in a meeting, in the kitchen making dinner, or when you are out with friends for coffee. According to research, half of our thoughts during the day are random thoughts that appear out of nowhere and make us unhappy.
When your inner dialogue is negative and unhelpful, it can keep you from reaching your full potential and living a happy life.
So, if you have a pessimistic or helpless mindset, you will see yourself, other people, and your experiences as gloomy, flawed, and hopeless. As a result, every situation may seem much worse than it actually is.
Consequently, you may fail to recognize your strengths and blessings, struggling with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. A pessimistic mindset may also prevent you from having meaningful relationships and achieving your goals.
In the same way, if you have a fixed mindset, you may have self-limiting beliefs that make you think you can’t change, get better, or grow.
How Can Pessimistic Thoughts Hold Us Back?
We frequently forget that our perception of reality, rather than reality itself, shapes how we feel, think, and behave.
Our negative thoughts can affect how we feel about ourselves and others. Pessimistic thoughts, for example, can trigger mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, causing various problems in your daily life.
They can make it difficult to feel good about yourself, your body, your skills, or your knowledge, seriously affecting your self-esteem and confidence. Negative thoughts can also lead to self-sabotage, preventing you from living the life you deserve.
How to Quiet That Negative Inner Voice
Shifting your thinking style can help you stop negative thoughts and their impact on your mood and well-being. By using strategies to change your thoughts, you are stopping a habitual way of thinking that doesn’t help you.
So here are the five ways to stop negative thoughts and live a happier life.
Take a Moment to Pause
Taking a moment to pause is an excellent way to get back to yourself and become more aware of your negative thoughts.
Whether it is starting your mornings slowly, taking a moment to drink a cup of tea in the middle of your hectic day, or taking a few moments to yourself before a meeting at the office, a conscious pause can help you relax, self-regulate, and regain a sense of control.
Mindfulness incorporates awareness and focus into everything you do, making it more than a practice. As a way of life, mindfulness can help you stop negative thoughts and improve your well-being.
So, in the morning, take a moment to prepare your coffee mindfully, focusing on each step of the process, inhaling the aromas of freshly brewed coffee, and feeling the warmth of the steam enfolding your face. Go out and take a mindful walk during your lunch break or pause to observe things you can smell, see, hear, and touch in your surroundings.
Mindfulness helps you become aware of your thoughts. Being aware of your thoughts allows you to avoid responding to stress in the first place. Instead, it will enable you to pause, observe your thoughts, and realize that they are just that – thoughts.
If you feel particularly stressed by your inner chatter, find a comfortable position and exercise deep breathing.
Deep breathing exercises require you to be mindful of each breath you take. By balancing your breathing through breathwork, you signal your parasympathetic nervous system to calm your body and decrease the levels of stress hormones. This allows you to calm your mind and body and observe your thoughts as they arise without judgment or self-blame.
Deep breathing techniques can also help you process your emotions and improve your self-control.
Learn to Recognize Your Common Negative Thoughts.
Most of us have common thought patterns that influence our emotions and behavior.
As you pay attention to your thoughts, try to spot cognitive distortions like black-or-white thinking, overgeneralization, catastrophizing, mind-reading, labeling, etc.
For example, you are catastrophizing if you consistently predict the worst-case scenario, even if you have no idea what will happen. Labeling occurs when you make broad statements about yourself or others based on situational behavior or when you use negative terms to describe yourself or others, such as “I am a failure.”
Seeing how often you have negative thoughts can help you stop them and take charge of your mind.
Practice Compassion and Gratitude Regularly
Compassion towards yourself is equally important as being kind to others. Treating yourself with self-compassion can encourage you to learn from mistakes instead of scolding yourself for failing. In addition, self-compassion can help you stop negative thoughts and feel better about yourself. Also, treating yourself with love, kindness, and compassion can make you more resilient and happier with your life.
Gratitude will come naturally once you learn to take conscious breaks and live in the moment. Gratitude can help you become more aware of all the positive aspects of your life, let go of negative patterns, and keep things in perspective.
Learning to Replace Your Negative Thoughts and Live a Happier Life
Stopping pessimistic thinking patterns and replacing them with a positive mindset can change your life. However, sometimes we need external support to take the first steps toward replacing negative thoughts and living a happier life.
Consider getting counseling. A trained counselor or life coach can help you develop strategies to focus on the present, take control of your thoughts, and be kind to yourself.
You will become more aware of your self-sabotage and grateful for the life you have once you learn to recognize and stop negative thoughts. And then good things will come your way.