Recent research has shown that we have approximately 70,000 thoughts per day. Many people say that a large percentage of their thoughts are negative, even though they are aware that most of their negative thoughts or fears do not actually materialise. Many repetitive negative thoughts stem from negative beliefs about ourselves. These beliefs might be that we are not good enough, that we are unlucky, that most people are not trustworthy etc. When thinking such thoughts, our brains generally take these unreasonable thoughts seriously without checking if they are true or false.
When faced with repetitive thoughts, question these thoughts and ask yourself whether you should take these thoughts seriously. Question whether a thought is rational and whether it is coming from a core negative belief about yourself or perhaps even coming from other people’s judgements. Such questions may give us a reality check and may also help us ground ourselves.
It is also beneficial to replace the negativity in your surroundings, as this might help decrease negative thoughts. What are the main sources of negativity in your life? When identifying these sources, think of ways to spend less time with them. Try not to let too many people or situations suck the happiness out of you. It is important to learn how and when to let go.
When dealing with negative thoughts it is also helpful to speak to someone whom you can trust so that you have the liberty to vent and let it all out. Talk the situation over with someone close to you as this can be very therapeutic. Sometimes when we share our thoughts, we come to see the situation in a different light.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that it is natural to have negative thoughts and that we can never get rid of them completely. Rather than trying to stop them we need to learn how to relate with these thoughts and how to manage them in a healthier and more positive way.
Claire is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.