Almost everyone experiences unwanted negative thoughts from time to time. But these thoughts should not overwhelm individuals and disrupt their day-to-day activities. It is natural to occasionally experience random thoughts, but they should not control a person’s life.
Unwelcomed negative thoughts and feelings can impact people’s lives in different ways. These thoughts can take the form of obsessive rumination and create a repeating pattern of self-doubt and anxiety. However, negative thought patterns can be successfully changed with focused strategies, time and the help of a skilled mental health clinician. But, first an individual needs to become aware of these unhealthy behaviors and how their thoughts are actually distortions of reality.
Recognizing Negative Thoughts:
When people start to believe these distortions, they are actually reinforcing the negative way of thinking. So negative thoughts give birth to more negative thoughts, and so the distorted thought pattern repeats itself. Again, these distorted thoughts create additional negative thoughts.
People can, especially with the help of psychiatric therapy, recognize these unhealthy thought patterns. Once this is accomplished, it becomes easier to challenge and change these uninvited thoughts. Start to rationally review these thoughts. Incidentally, people can likely develop better self-esteem if they understand how to identify and limit these negative thoughts.
Some common negative thought patterns to look for include:
- Exaggerating the impact of example: This is more common than most people think. This thought pattern overgeneralizes situations, events and outcomes. Taking one example of something and thinking it is true for everything often leads to negative thought patterns. Words like always and never are the usual signs for overgeneralizing and exaggerating isolated events.
- Negative filtering: Some people would call this the pessimist’s view of the life. This thought pattern tends to exclusively focus on the negative is summarized as the glass is half empty. People will focus on bad outcomes and ignore any positive occurrences.
- All-or-nothing thinking: Individuals will see everything in a simplistic good/bad or black/white mindset. Either they are perfect, or they are an absolute failure. Seeing life as only one way or another ignores all of the points in between. Life is often a blend of good and bad, which people having experiences that are somewhere in the middle.
It is beneficial to try and stop and notice any negative thoughts. However, an excessive amount of negative thoughts could indicate the presence of mental health disorders such as major depressive disorder or PTSD.
For example, a common symptom of PTSD is unwanted experiencing negative thoughts and mood changes. These thoughts will include alienation, guilt and similar depressed feelings.
It is possible for individuals to gradually change how they see the world. The following strategies will not work overnight, but they can direct people’s thinking towards a more positive direction.
- Evaluate: A few times a day, people can evaluate their thoughts. Are their negative feelings? If so, try to add a positive element to them.
- Self-talk: Individuals should have positive conversations with themselves. The majority of the internal dialogue should include positive, encouraging messages.
- Humor: The ability to laugh, joke and smile is always helpful. Finding the humor in day-to-day events help people see the bright side of life.
These are only a few strategies, but they are easy to implement. For additional strategies, and help implementing, individuals should seek the help of a trained and experienced behavioral health professional. They can guide them along the path to better mental health.
The ability for people to let go of these thoughts creates positive health benefits. Previous studies have indicated that 80 percent of the U.S. population find it challenging to relax. Negative thoughts, anxiety and stress can create a vicious thought pattern.
As a reminder, positive thinking does not mean that people become oblivious to problems in their life. It simply means trying to approach the unpleasant things in life with a more productive and healthier attitude. Unfortunate things do happen in life, but so do good things.
Who We Are:
Emerald Psychiatry & TMS Center delivers experienced and caring behavioral health services in Dublin, Ohio. For more information about Emerald Psychiatry’s mental health services and treatment options email or call them. Their practice’s main phone number is (614) 580-6917.
Contributor: ABCS RCM