Help With Negative Thinking: What am I saying to myself and is any of it true?

Think how much time you could save if you didn’t ruminate?
That question really stuck with me, when I was asked it many years ago.
It made me realise that just ten minutes spent meditating each day had a profound influence on the atmosphere of my mind, throughout the entire day. Saving me oodles of time that might have disappeared down a rumination hole.

Typically, in a meditation it’s a good idea not to push thoughts away or get lost in working out what they all mean. Instead you would just allow them to come and go, recognising yourself as the space in which all these thoughts and feelings appear.
But sometimes thoughts can be so sticky and negative. It can be hard to imagine transcending them.

Here are a few simple ways to challenge negative thinking. 

  1. Stop what you’re doing and watch your thinking with a discerning eye. 
  2. What kind thoughts are being entertained? Perhaps note them down or say them aloud. 
  3. Ask yourself: Is this thought helpful (I.e: It will solve my problem) or am I ruminating?
  4. Ask yourself: Is this thought actually true or am I seeing things through a gloomy lens? Keep an eye out for polarised, black and white thinking and challenge illogical thoughts when you spot them. 
  5. Play with opposites. For example: ‘I feel anxious vs. what if I don't have to feel anxious’, ‘I’m stressed vs. What if i can be at peace’, ‘I’m all alone vs. but I can be loved’
  6. Be kind and remind yourself often that while it may be hard now, you’re doing so well and you’re always learning and growing. Be a good friend to yourself not a berating critic.
  7. Learn how to meditate and spend a little time meditating each day, or at least several times a week. Dr. Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry in the University of Wisconsin–Madison found that meditation increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with happiness. I’ve written extensively on the topic of meditation here at Emma Mills London, and I also wrote a book to help you fit it into your day naturally.
  8. One of the lovely things about the brain is that it’s flexible and accommodating. It’s always pruning away outdated neural pathways and strengthening newer ones that are getting regular use. Remembering this can be wonderfully motivating when you're taking up a new habit or wellness practice.

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