Have you ever felt like your brain resembles that scene in Mean Girls where the entire school starts fighting over the Burn Book, but somehow you are both the victim and Regina George?
It can feel impossible to stop negative thinking, but you can learn how to stop the doom spiral happen in your brain.
The first step is to pay attention to your thoughts and recognize when your thinking is really negative. Then, instead of judging your thoughts just notice them and observe them without reacting. Next, gently correct those thoughts by choosing the opposite, positive thought. Finally, make choosing positive thoughts a daily habit with affirmations.
Lets go into greater detail on how to stop the cycle of negative thinking and self talk, and finally silence your inner critic! It’s not difficult, but it takes regular practice and some time.
How to Stop Negative Thinking
1. Recognize Negative Thoughts & Patterns
First, start to pay attention to your thoughts. You might catch them in the moment, but when you’re just starting you may be too swept up in them to notice. Meditation is a great way to start tuning into your mind (there are lots of great meditation apps to start with like Calm and Headspace).
You can also try taking time at your lunch break or before bed to reflect on the day by journaling or just sitting quietly and reflecting.
When during the day did you feel low? What thoughts or interactions caused that feeling? Are there any negative thinking patterns you see? If so, write them down and we’ll address them later.
2. Don’t Judge Your Thoughts
Once you notice that you’ve been thinking poorly of yourself try not to judge. Accept them as part of being human (we ALL do this) and just make a commitment to change them. Beating yourself up will just get you more stuck in those thought patterns.
Be gentle and patient with yourself, you are doing the best you can with the tools you have. Most of us are not taught to think kindly of ourselves, it’s a skill we have to learn later in life.
In fact society literally profits off our insecurities. How many times a day are we told through advertising, influencers, and other media that we need to buy this or that product to meet an artificial and impossible standard of beauty? If we were taught to be happy as we are the fashion, beauty, and plastic surgery industries would be a whole lot poorer.
3. Turn Negative Thoughts into Positive Thoughts
When you catch those pesky negative thoughts immediately tell yourself a opposite statement.
“I failed,” becomes “I did the best I could in the moment and now get to learn from this experience and do better in the future.”
“This didn’t happen for me because I’m not worthy,” becomes “It wasn’t the right thing or time for me, something better will come along. I am worthy and I deserve the best.“
Do this for each negative thought you catch as soon as you notice it, whatever it is. It can help to write down some of your regular negative thoughts and the positive rebuttals ahead of time, so you have your tools ready to pull out when needed.
Learning to change your limiting beliefs can be difficult, this free worksheet can help get you started.
4. Repeat Positive Thoughts and Affirmations Daily
So now that you’ve identified your own negative thought patterns, I want you to write down a list of positive thoughts that you are going to tell yourself every single day.
Telling yourself a positive thought once won’t stop negative thinking forever. You have to do it consistently every day. Pick 5-10 affirmations and write them down every morning or night, and/or repeat them while meditating, working out, or falling asleep.
Write some down on post-it notes and put them on your mirror.
I started using this method around November 2018 and it took a few months before I noticed how much my self talk had changed. Around Spring 2019 I started to be willing to try things I believed I couldn’t do before (like start this blog). It was really amazing to see that change in myself.
When something feels challenging, like doing one more lap in the pool when I’m tired, I tell myself “this is actually easy” and that gives me the strength to finish my set. More often than not when I feel tired, or unmotivated, or stuck, I realize that’s just a story I’m telling myself. I have to make a conscious decision to tell myself empowering thoughts instead, and then I can go do what I need to do.
I hope these tips help you stop negative thinking, silence your inner critic, and think more positively about yourself! If you apply them with consistency I promise you will start to see a difference in your life!