Three Simple Techniques To Stop Negative Thinking.

Each of us is different, that's what makes the world a fun place. While for the most part our brains are all the same, ask any neuroscientist, the way we process information is slightly different. This is why you will often hear people say "It depends where you fall on the continuum".

Some of us will be more positive than others, some less so.

One thing we know for sure is that each of us worries, each of us catastrophises, each of us talks negatively to ourselves, and each of us over-thinks. It's just the degree to which we do these things that differs for each of us.

Because we have a negative bias, worry is something that we are all programmed to do to keep us safe from harm. As you may know, 50% of worry is hereditary, you can't change it. Fortunately, the other 50% of worry is nothing more than a bad habit, which of course you can change.

When we worry, catastrophise, talk negatively to ourselves, or over-think things, adrenaline and cortisol is released into our bloodstream. It's all part of the fight-or-flight response and is bad for you, unless of course you are getting attacked.

There are many techniques to reduce worry, meditation is probably the best, as is practicing mindfulness. If you have the time to do it that is. I know, exponents of meditation will say that you should make time, and they are absolutely correct. Some of us on the other hand have very busy lives, others of us just can't see ourselves 'meditating'.

For those of us who don't have the time to meditate, or can't picture ourselves doing this, or who might dismiss meditation as nonsense (shame on you), here are some other things that you can do to reduce worry by half;

  1. Replace worry with a happy thought - if you have a strong happy memory, usually this will be of a holiday, stop for a second and think about that memory.
  2. Mindfulness - bringing yourself back to the present. Some will say that you should focus in great detail on a tree, a bird, the bubbles in a glass of water, or something that you can see in the present. For me, it's reading something on your desk, a few words is enough. The bonus of reading is that we do so from the left side of our brain, the calm side where your logic sits.
  3. A practical action combined with a thought - because our fight-or-flight response has a physiological and psychological component, the fastest way to control it is by countering with a physical and psychological action such as; blink your eyes and say 'no' or 'stop' inside your head (to yourself, not out aloud), slap your leg and say to yourself "come on", "let's go", or "move on". The best method is the tried and true - flick a rubber band on your wrist, the psychological part of this action is the pain.

All of these suggestions are about distracting us from our negative thinking, breaking patterns of behaviour.

It takes 60 to 80 days to change a habit, not 21 days. At 21 days your brain will tell you that you got this and encourage you to stop. It's lying, ignore it and keep going.

If you persevere, you will prevail. Perseverance is the key, as is talking to others about our worries.

Let's talk!