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  • Writer's pictureAlex Young

Overcoming negative thoughts

Our thoughts are outside of our control. They come and go on their own accord. We don’t choose them but rather, they choose us.

That might feel a little overwhelming if you haven’t considered that notion before but this guide is hopefully going to make you feel positively about what you can do to overcome negative thoughts and channel your energy into finding what you love to do, personally and professionally.

Whilst what comes into our mind isn’t something we can dictate (we can try to influence it and give ourselves higher chances of experiencing thoughts we enjoy but we can’t prescribe exactly what we’re going to think), we can control how we respond to our thoughts.

We have the choice to allow them to guide us or we can watch them go by in our minds. We can feed them or ignore them. We can let them judge our feelings and our subsequent actions but we also have the freedom to choose our responses to them, each and every time we think.

A simple way of breaking away from the cycle of thinking and believing that your thoughts are telling you what to do is to say to yourself in your head or aloud ‘that’s interesting, where did this thought come from?’ each time you experience something pop into your brain.

This straightforward practise of removing your ‘self’ from your thoughts can change everything. You’ll begin to notice that many things that float about in your brain aren’t coming from you, they’re outside influences from society and from friends + family, from your work and things you’ve watched / read / listened to. This doesn’t mean they’re not useful, in fact we’d argue that any thought that you can question is useful because the act of asking yourself where something came from and then being able to deciphers your own feelings as a result helps you to learn yourself for who you really are.

Negative thoughts are so often not ours, they make us feel what we think we should feel in response to something outside of our control. In a work place setting, they can make us feel like we’re not cable of achieving what we want to, or even finding out what we will truly love doing.

An example being: your manager gives you feedback on a piece of work and there are a number of points you need to improve on before you can have your work published / present to your colleagues / be promoted. Your brain receives this information and tells you that you didn’t do well enough the first time, that you’ve failed and that you should feel crap about yourself.

Where did this come from?

It came from receiving feedback from someone who’s opinion you value on ways in which you can progress.

These negative thoughts are:
a) coming from external sources
b) forming a story which doesn’t need to be the truth

If you notice your thoughts in a situation like this, question where they’ve come from and decide on a response, consciously, you can instead feel positively about the fact that you’re receiving useful advice and that you have a chance to learn, as well as time to try again.

Try to use this method this week 3 times when you notice a negative thought and see how powerful it can be when you take a step back and separate yourself from your passive thinking, becoming more aware of the journey a thought has been on before it comes to the forefront of your mind.

If you’re struggling to find what you love to do right now then try using this questioning approach to everything that comes up that you don’t enjoy and you do enjoy doing throughout your every day activities - perhaps the clue to discovering your next move is right there and you haven’t yet been able to take a moment to notice it because you’ve been preoccupied with the story you’ve told yourself (that has come from negative thoughts) that you don’t have any passions.

Good luck and remember, thoughts are out of your control but your responses to them are all yours!


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