Often when something bad happens to us we keep thinking about it, particularly at night while trying to get to sleep. Or worse still, in the early hours of the morning. And if we do this the negative thoughts seem to increase the more we think about the situation.
For a lot of us, our brain is wired negatively to protect us from harm. When we are afraid, confused, angered, feel aggrieved, or any of the other myriad of negative responses that happen to us, our brain reaches into the right side where our creative (defensive) part sits waiting to solve the situation. The same occurs when we worry about something.
The longer we think about an issue that we have, the more negative the emotion seems to get. What your brain is doing is trying to find a solution for you and if one isn't found quickly the more negative your thoughts become. In fact, it will exaggerate the issue and may even give you some more negative things to think about.
You actually need this response, this reaction is also where your great ideas come from, this is how you develop, this is how you stay alive in times of danger. Yet for a few of us, we seem to have trouble viewing the reality of the situation. Your view of a situation determines your thoughts about it, it’s that simple yet often hard to achieve.
If you are someone who finds yourself dwelling on the negative, here is a few things that you can do to minimise this thought process;
· Make a joke about it – when we laugh about something it reframes the issue and your brain won’t view it as something negative.
· Find a positive reason for the situation occurring – there is often a positive aspect of a negative situation, if there isn’t you can make one up and focus on that.
· Stop negative thinking – negative thinking is both hereditary and a pattern of behaviour, a habit. You can’t change your genes but you can change a habit. One way to do this is to wear a rubber band around your wrist and flick it every time you find yourself thinking negatively. The sting stops your thoughts. 60 to 80 days to change a habit, not 21 days so keep going with it.
· Distract your brain – find positive things to keep your brain occupied with, bury the negative thoughts with positive ones.
· Smile – this changes your mood and relieves stress.
· Change your words – replace negative words with positive words, it isn’t a problem it is a challenge.
· Stop exaggerating your thoughts – write the situation down. When we write something down we use our logic brain which is on the opposite side of negativity. Then list the positives of what occurred to reinforce them.
Possibly the simplest thing to do is to keep reminding yourself that your negative thought is just that, a thought. A thought has no actual power over you unless you allow it to. Yet for some of us, our thoughts become our reality.
Here’s how it works – recall the last time that were in a boring meeting listening to something you have no interest in and you thought ‘Get me out of here’. And then you thought, ‘When this meeting does finish I get to have lunch, take a break, go for a walk’, you think about something positive and you immediately perk up and your mind is back in the room. What changed – your thoughts, nothing else. You are still in the meeting listening to the same boring stuff.
You control your thoughts, no one else does or can. You decide if you want to dwell on the negative of if you want to focus on the positive. Remember, if you keep looking back while moving forward you will surely hit something.