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How to get rid of negative thoughts when they appear?

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  • 3 min read

Someone explained negative thoughts to me like this: “thoughts are kind of like birds that fly overhead, you cannot control them, but just don’t let them make a nest” and that made a lot of sense to me.

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts that typically feel like they’re happening outside of our control. They might be about something scary or horrifying, but they can also be bizarre or even silly. The intrusive thoughts might be about making a mistake or hurting someone else. They may even be about something terrible happening to someone we care about.

If you’re having an negative or intrusive thought, try the following strategies:

1. Don’t try to control your thoughts.

Because the nature of your mind is such that the more you try to avoid thinking about something the more you will think about it. When intrusive thoughts come, see them for what they are without resisting or reacting to them. Observe them and realise how they make you feel. That is how you create a distance between your thoughts and emotions.

With more practice you’ll learn that your thoughts are actually not real, they are just things you literally make up in your mind.

2. Don’t react to it

Having a specific negative or intrusive thought doesn’t mean that you’re likely to act on it. Remind yourself that having this thought doesn’t give it any particular power or importance.

3. Meditation

Practice mindfulness meditation. Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes. Find a quiet place to sit with your eyes closed.

Practice counting each breath until you arrive at 10. Repeat. When you notice your mind has drifted from your breath, gently bring your attention back to your breath, starting your count back at 1.

4. Keep reminding yourself

Its always important to remind yourself that these negative thoughts mean nothing to who you are as a person. You are not these thoughts and you know who you are deep down. Its hard to remind yourself of that sometimes, but you are you. Not your brain.

Saying reassuring words like this out loud helps or making some sort of thing like “oh it’s just the bees in my brain”.

5. Keep yourself busy

Thinking deeper into intrusive thoughts never help, tho its hard to leave it alone when all your brain wants to do is ‘fix’ or ‘disprove’ that thought to make the anxiety go away. Go for a walk, make a schedule for the week, anything to distract from that. It’s hard, but overtime it gets easier.

Just staying in bed makes it worse, so make a day out of it, clean and shower and go out to see friends, or go into work and keep your mind off of it. Spending time with friends really takes a load off.

My advice to anyone would be don’t be too hard on yourself when you get these thoughts. We tend to self sabotage and think the worst. We are our own worst enemies sometimes but don’t forget to be your own cheerleader too.

What about this ??

Picture yourself sitting on the side of a stream or river. Every thought is a leaf floating down the river. You’ll see them for a bit as they float towards you and in front of you, but eventually they will pass and be gone. You’re just an observer of these thoughts, and you don’t have to go reach in and pick them up, you can just let them float by and be gone.

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