Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)
This simply means that we can take control of our thoughts, God has equipped us. What we put into our mind (scary movies) or what we chose to focus on (negativity) can quickly take control of every aspect of our lives.
Letting in just one negative thought can spiral into more. Before you know it, it impacts your self-esteem, your relationships, your career, and the way you think about the world.
The bad news? The more you believe your negative thoughts, the worse they become. It’s an ugly pattern that can be extremely hard to break once it starts to take over your life.
Everyone falls victim to negative thinking from time to time. It’s not always easy to just “think positive,” even when you have a happy outlook on life.
Here’s how you can combat negative thinking and break free from the dangerous patterns.
1. Be More Mindful
Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment. Take a few minutes to focus on your breathing, and what is going on around you at that moment. Let thoughts come and go freely, but don’t hold on to them.
By being more mindful, you can distract yourself from your negative thoughts. Focus on the moment until that negative thought passes, and it will lose its power.
2. Find Positive Support
It’s easy to be a reflection of the people with whom you spend the most time. Plenty of old stereotypes exist about it, but there’s also a lot of truth to the idea.
So, take a look at your friendships and the relationships in your life. Are they building you up or tearing you down? Do you spend time with a lot of negative people? If so, it could be time to make some changes.
That isn’t to say your friends need to be happy and peppy all of the time. But, if the people you spend your time with are continually complaining about the woes of the world, you’re bound to start doing the same.
3. Actively Change Your Thoughts
Philippians 4:8 tells us "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (NIV)
You have been equipped to change your thoughts from negative to positive. It isn’t always an easy thing to do. Plus, it takes practice and dedication. But, if you can flip even a word or two of your thought, you can often see the positive in the situation.
For example, instead of thinking “This line is so long, I’ll never get my food,” you could think to yourself, “This line is so long that the food must be great!”
4. Help Someone Else
Taking the focus away from yourself is a great way to keep yourself from dwelling on a negative thought. You can go one step further and do something kind or helpful for someone else. It allows you to take your mind off of whatever negative thought might be plaguing you. Plus, the kind gesture will make you feel better, and may even change your outlook—even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time.
5. Be Grateful
Many times, our negative thinking patterns come from a place of selfishness, even if we don’t realize it. We think life isn’t fair, or that we should have more.
To combat that, it’s essential to think about the things you do have and what you’re grateful for. The next time you’re plagued with negative thoughts, quickly write down five things you’re grateful for.
Do this every time a negative thought pattern starts to take over. As a bonus, try to think of different things each time. If you’re able to save your lists, you can eventually look back and them to see the many positive things in your life.
Overcoming negative thinking takes action and dedication. But it is possible. You can put these strategies in mind right away and use them any time a negative thought starts to steer you off the tracks.
For more support overcoming negative thinking, or for more information about anxiety or depression counseling please reach out to me today click here.
About the Author
Julia Nelson, LPCA, LMFTA is a psychotherapist and owns a private practice in Henderson County, (Flat Rock) NC and Rutherford County, (Forest City) NC. In general, she specializes in couples counseling, anxiety and depression counseling, premarital counseling, and parenting classes. She is also a Certified Clinical Military Counselor. To find out more about Julia click here: Nelson Christian Counseling.
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