Sometimes Negative thoughts are like going crazy: A mistake at work, a faux pas while meeting friends, or a catchy earworm on the radio will make you forget about the situation. Do you know that?
In this article, you will learn how to get rid of the negative thoughts.
If you want to lose weight, you think about eating all the time. Constant negative thoughts lead you into depression. And traumatic experiences keep repeating in your thoughts. All this does not have to be!
It can even go so far that it is really hard for us to think fairly clearly or concentrate on another thing.
Most of us will automatically try to suppress the negative thoughts in such a situation. But that’s completely wrong. It is even counterproductive! This has been shown by numerous psychological studies over the last twenty years.
The study found that trying to push a thought out of the head has exactly the opposite effect; the thought becomes even stronger in the brain.
Suppress negative thoughts
Let us talk about trying to find out in which situations we are particularly haunted by these negative thoughts and how this effect is related to our emotions.
Not surprisingly, the more emotional the situation, the sooner the thought gets stuck in the head. In one study, students had to write down an everyday situation. One-half of the students should describe one emotional situation, the other half will describe a non-emotional situation. It turned out that it was the emotional situations that could not get out of their heads.
After telling them to suppress their thoughts for the next 4 days, It turned out that they often had negative thoughts than the first group, which was not asked to suppress negative thoughts.
A possible explanation
But what exactly is going on that makes it hard to get rid of bad thoughts when we actively try to push them out of our heads?
Professor Daniel Wegner provides a possible explanation: First, we deliberately try to think of something else. Shortly thereafter – and here the evil takes its course – our subconscious mind starts a program that checks whether we really do not think about the thing we do not want to think about. One could say that the subconscious mind wants to check whether consciousness succeeds in suppressing negative thoughts. If we actually think of something else during this “review” or if we distract ourselves by a difficult task, everything is fine. But if we do not think of anything specific at that particular moment, the subconscious mind can “shine through” and the thought “slips” into our consciousness. So we’re back at the beginning and the story starts again.
The more we try to suppress bad thoughts, the more they return.
There are aids against it!
In an article written by an American Psychologist, Professor Daniel Wegner gives some tips on how to eliminate the negative thoughts forever.
When we have gone into a faux pas (or have a negative thought for other reasons), we will naturally try to distract ourselves with other thoughts.
That can work. Studies have shown that one simply has to be careful to focus on one thing. This can be a piece of music, an exciting TV discussion or a complex task (for example at work).
Sometimes with bad thoughts, we intuitively try to put ourselves under stress to rid ourselves of thoughts. We believe that then we have no more energy that we can use for the negative thoughts.
Studies have shown that unfortunately, this does not work. The thoughts come back stronger then.
While actively suppressing a thought is counterproductive, moving a thought may well work.
Researchers asked volunteers to postpone their unpleasant thoughts to a 30-minute later “worry-time”. And this actually seemed to work. The head could be kept free in this way for other things.
To suppress the thought does not work. But what if we do exactly the opposite? When we consciously and as much as possible focus on the negative thought?
It sounds like a paradox. How do you get a thought out of your mind if you keep it consciously in your mind? But researchers found that this actually works. This goes in the direction of “confrontation therapy”. Just as arachnophobic humans are carefully introduced to spiders, so too can negative thoughts work.
There are signs that accepting unpleasant thoughts can lead to their disappearance. So instead of waging a guerrilla war with your head, you should come to terms with your thoughts.
To fight back against bad thoughts is like fighting off quicksand: you just sink deeper into the mess. It is better to consciously recall the thoughts, to imagine them, for example in the form of little soldiers dancing out of our ears and holding in their hands signs on which the negative thoughts are written. Imagine these little soldiers passing by with their signs, as in a small parade. We do not fight these soldiers, or neither we argue with them, we just let them pass and watch them. We watch them disappear with the signs on which the negative thoughts are written.
In the same direction as the last point is also meditation. Buddhism promotes an open, non-judgmental attitude towards the negative thoughts in our heads. This too can help to master the bad thoughts.
Another panacea for the negative thoughts can be self-affirmation. This is about believing in its positive qualities and beliefs. This can not only increase self-confidence but also self-restraint; speak: One has his thoughts better under control.
So once the negative thoughts plague us, we recall our positive sides and our strengths.
Studies have shown that it has various health and psychological benefits when we write about our deepest thoughts and feelings. This can help to clear his mind and get a better perspective. The negative thoughts are then “worked off”.
If you not only want to get rid of the negative thoughts but also with positive thoughts to improve your future, I recommend you the article by Moritz Bauer: The power of thought: How it works + practical instructions
Not every one of these eight suggestions works equally well for each of us. While some have had good experiences writing down the others, the focused distraction helps them better. So it’s up to you to find the ideal course of action for you.
But maybe you have already found out how to get rid of the negative thoughts the easiest way. If you use a technique that is not listed here, we would appreciate it if you share it with us in the comments below. That’s how we can learn from each other. Thank you