Ever wondered how to stop the incessant chatter of criticism, nitpicking and abuse going around in your head? Enter the right phase with your expert-led guide on how to heal negative thoughts, according to a clinical psychologist.
You are only human after all, and you are far from being alone: according to data from National Science Foundation (opens in new tab)You think anything from 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts every day – of which, About 80% are negative.
shocking? Probably not, given the constant barrage of sad news, societal pressure, and, well, the small matter of our human tendency to think 80% negative, 20% positive thoughts. That being said, there is great power in being able to both recognize and move past negative thoughts when they appear. Eventually, as is the case with meditation, the more you practice, the better you get, and The more you control the negative rhetoric, rather than it controlling you.
To answer all your questions and more, we’ve talked to Andreas Michaelides (opens in new tab) PhD, Head of Psychology Noom (opens in new tab), Here, he shares an expert-led list of what a negative thought is, how to identify it, and how to re-name it.
If you think you may be suffering from symptoms of depression (opens in new tab)Know this – you are not alone, and help is available. low grade depression (opens in new tab) may feel weak
Read our guide on how to help someone who is suicidal (opens in new tab)how to help a depressed boyfriend (opens in new tab)and how to find a doctor (opens in new tab)while you’re here
How to Reframe Negative Thoughts: Your Guide
What is a negative thought?
good question “At their core, negative thoughts are unpleasant thoughts that can make you feel bad about yourself, about others, or about the world in general,” Michaelides explains.
did you know Most of our negative thoughts are automatic reactions and can be difficult to identify. “Although they are generally classified as inappropriate thought patterns, at the time they seem logical to you as the person experiencing them,” he shares.
Does everyone experience negative thoughts?
Short answer: yes.
“Negative thoughts are a universal experience that everyone goes through at some point in their lives,” share the expert.
FYI, these thoughts can be automatic, negative, inappropriate, or a combination of all three, he highlighted. One significant difference you notice between you and your best friend? “Some people are able to shift their thinking away from negative thoughts more quickly or easily than others,” he explains.
This is where your brain gets trained to be able to reframe negative thoughts, if it doesn’t come naturally to you. It’s a way to help you distance yourself from what can sometimes feel like a barrage of negativity.
So how does it work? Michaelides explains that the process is as follows:
- First, take a step back and acknowledge your negative thoughts when they occur.
- Second, take the time to evaluate your thoughts and Why? You might be thinking the same thing.
- Third, use a positive thought affirmation to replace the negative thought. “Making choices for your current headspace is important,” he shares.
Think of it this way: Instead of looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking that you look ugly, have bad skin, or don’t like your outfit, recognize the negative thought as it occurs. accept that it’s independent of you and try and understand Why?Well, you might be thinking so.
Do you have trouble falling asleep the night before? Have you just received a text or task request that has got you worried? Or didn’t you have much time to get ready this morning?
All are valid reasons why you might not be feeling 100%, and valid reasons why your negative self-talk may be rearing its ugly head. When you get better at noticing it, be sure to address it. For example, if “I look ugly” pops into your mind, identify it as a negative thought, and instead say, “I didn’t have a lot of time to get dressed today, but no one will notice my perceived flaws.” But won’t pay attention to “I’m criticizing myself.”
got it? Our Guide to the Meaning of Self-Love (opens in new tab) may also help.
Also note here: You won’t become a reframing expert overnight. “You can be successful at reframing negative thoughts, but it takes consistency and practice on a regular basis,” share the expert.
5 Ways to Overcome Negative Thoughts and Retrain Your Mind
1. Identify Your Thoughts
First things first: When you start to experience feelings of sadness or stress, experts recommend writing them down in a thought log.
try this: “Write down a description of the situations that contributed to these feelings,” he advises. “Then, write specifically what thoughts or images came to your mind.”
2. Label Your Thoughts
Next – what to start working kind You are experiencing negative thoughts.
“Most negative thoughts fall into a few general categories,” he continues. Try and determine if your idea is:
- over critical
- fault based
- fault based
3. Recognize Your Feelings
Once you get a hold of your thoughts, check in with your feelings, advises Pro. “What emotions did you feel and how intense were they on a scale of one to ten?”, he asks.
try this: Get comfortable labeling the real emotion you’re experiencing. “Remember, emotions are usually one word—for example sad, happy, scared, happy, angry, and so on,” he prompts.
4. Ask questions about your ideas
Cultivating enough confidence to question your inner dialogue is ready to redefine negativity, he shares.
try this: Feel comfortable asking questions about your thoughts. Some of these questions may include:
- Is there enough evidence for my views?
- Is there evidence against my thoughts?
- Am I trying to explain a situation without any evidence?
- What would a close friend of mine think of the situation?
5. Recognize thought distortions
And finally, make sure you train your mind to notice when you’re falling into a thought trap or distraction. He stresses, “There are ten to twelve different thought traps that can distort your thinking and affect your emotions.”
Some examples include:
- all-or-nothing thinking
- mind reading
- Using feelings as facts.
Once you can recognize these, you can distance yourself from them and remind yourself that ultimately, you are not your thoughts. Redefining negative thoughts has never been easier.
One final note: If you find yourself experiencing negative thoughts on a daily basis that it is having a negative effect on your mood, making it hard for you to enjoy the things you enjoy, or in your relationships, work or daily life are causing problems, consider reaching out to someone qualified. Mental health provider for additional support.