Top Tips for Dealing with Negative Thinking

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Top Tips for Dealing with Negative Thinking

My Better Life Coaching
Published by Laurence in Techniques · 26 July 2021
Tags: #positivethinking#NATS#mybetterlifecoaching
Struggling with Negative thoughts? – Here is how you can turn them to positives…
 
 
We all have them at some point in our lives, some people more than others, and for some people this can become a debilitating problem.

 
I’m talking about Negative Thoughts, Self-Doubt, Negative Self Talk. All of these are terms used to describe the act of telling yourself you cannot do/be/achieve/complete/prevent (delete where applicable) something.

 
They are thoughts you have which lead you to believe you are not good enough or that others will see you as having no value or worth.

 
Beck described these thoughts as 'automatic thoughts'. We have positive automatic thoughts, otherwise known as 'PATS', and negative automatic thoughts, known as 'NATS'.

 
The term ‘Negative automatic thoughts, is used to describe a stream of thoughts that almost all of us can notice, if we try to pay attention to them. They are negatively tinged appraisals or interpretations. They are meanings we take from what happens around us or within us.

 
If you consider for a second, times in your own thinking, when you were anxious, you might have had thoughts about the threat of something bad happening to you or people you care about.

 
There is unlikely to be much actual evidence of such things being a probable outcome, yet those thoughts came into your mind.

 
Now think about a time when you were annoyed. You might have had thoughts about others being unfair, or not following rules you consider important. How about when you were fed up, there might have been thoughts about loss or defeat, or negative views of yourself.

 
These are all examples of ‘NATS’.

 
The thing about these thoughts is that they just happen automatically, without effort, in your unconscious mind, which makes them hard to deal with or prevent. They are part of a ‘pattern’ or neural map which associates an activating event with a core belief, typically created by a past experience, which triggers an emotional response that is internally reinforced by negative thinking.

 
In my personal mental resilience workshops, I go into detail about how to identify these and their root causes, and then how to challenge and ultimately change this type of thinking, but here I am going to tell you a couple of techniques which will go a long way to stopping or at least slowing down the process enough to diminish their impacts.

 
Tip #1: When you find yourself in a situation where you are feeling like everything is dark, pointless, or you can’t see a positive future, often when relationships are either ending or going wrong, and you begin thinking it is your fault and that nobody will ever love you or want to be with you (who hasn’t been there, right?!)….STOP.

 
Ask yourself what you would say to your best friend, if they were the one going through this and feeling this way, not you?

 
We almost always have the answers inside us for our problems, but we can’t always find them, or even realise they are there. By taking ‘ourselves’ out of the equation, we see the situation much more clearly and rationally, and can see the bigger picture.

 
Tip #2: When you experience an emotional distress of some kind, such as a feeling of anxiety, immediately note down the thoughts and images that are going through your mind simultaneously to the feeling/emotion. Use a pad or a digital note on a phone, etc.

 
Think about that particular emotional feeling in steps:
 
1.      How do you feel and react when faced with this particular type of issue or situation?
 
2.      Determine what kinds of events (situations, conversations, activities) that are happening when you experience this emotional feeling.
 
3.      Write down how you would like to feel and react when these types of events happen.
 
4.      Now consider the things you noted down initially (the thoughts and images going through your mind at the exact time of the emotion). These are making you feel worse and react accordingly.
 
5.      Now decide on a different way of thinking about the event, that would result in you feeling and reacting in the way you described in step 3.

 
What you have now is the blueprint for recognising the types of events which trigger an emotional response/behaviour accompanied by negative automatic thoughts, a goal for how you would like to react to such events, and a different ‘rational’ way to think about the event which leads to a better outcome for you, in terms of stress, anxiety and potentially life experiences.

 
You can find out much more about the ways of actively working through these and how to set appropriate goals, along with how to set out goal plans, in my face-to-face or online coaching workshops. Go to the ‘contacts’ page to get in touch and arrange your one-to-one session today.


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