Breaking the Cycle

How to Stop Negative Thoughts

Have you ever found yourself stuck on a negative thought, while at the same time brushing off positive comments and quickly forgetting them. You’re not alone! 

For better or worse that’s your brain at work, part of our evolutionary history.  We’re hardwired to laser-focus on danger, constantly on the lookout for potential threats.  Think… lions and tigers and bears! Oh why? 

Positive thoughts are like velvet, slipping off our “emotional skin” easily. Negative thoughts, like velcro – harder to pry off. Neuroscience calls this spiral of negative thinking: “The Negativity Bias.”

When less-than-positive thoughts are sticking to you like velcro, try today’s Spot, Stop, and Swap technique.  The 3-step process helps to spot the negative cues & triggers, block ruminating thoughts, and fill your brain with empowering, uplifting alternatives.

The path to positive thinking starts here. 

“Spot a feeling or issue. Becoming aware of negativity means learning to spot the toxic impulses around you. To help us confront our own negativity, our monk teachers told us to try to not complain, compare, or criticize for a week, and keep a tally of how many times we failed. The goal was to see the daily tally decrease. The more we are aware of these tendencies, the more we might free ourselves from them.”

“Stop to understand what it is. When you understand the roots of your negativity, the next step is to address it. Silence negativity to make room for thoughts and actions that add to your life instead of taking away from it. Start with your breath. When we’re stressed, we hold it in our breath or clench our jaws. We slump in  defeat or tense our shoulders. Throughout the day, observe your physical presence. Is your jaw tight? Is your brow furrowed? These are signs we need to breathe, and loosen up physically and emotionally.” 

“Swap in a new way of processing. After spotting and stopping the negativity in your heart, mind, and speech, you can begin to amend it. You can’t expect you’ll be completely cured of the habit of complaining — but researchers have found that happy people tend to complain… wait for it… mindfully. While thoughtlessly venting makes your day worse, it’s been shown that writing in a journal about upsetting events, giving attention to thoughts and emotions, can foster growth and healing, not only mentally, but also physically.”