Almost everyone struggles with negative ways of thinking from time to time. It can be that you’re dwelling on your past or maybe you are worried about the future. Maybe you are even having issues with the present, personalizing the thoughts and actions of people around you in a way that makes you feel not good enough. For many people, these thoughts are untrue. At the very least, they are not conducive to your mental well being, or towards making progress.
You may have attempted to will away unproductive thoughts, or tried to fight back against them. But in so many cases, ignoring these thoughts can be as harmful as indulging them. It creates an ongoing cycle that keeps these thoughts at the forefront of your mind, and continues the negative impacts they have on your psyche.
How to Acknowledge and Let Go of Negative Thinking
Processing thoughts does not have to be all or nothing. You do not have to completely fall into their trap, and at the same time, you do not have to pretend they don’t exist. Instead, the best way to manage them is to find a middle ground by honestly acknowledging that they are there, but then letting them go rather than continuing to focus on them. You can do this when you:
- Note the Thought Pattern – When you feel yourself slipping into a negative thought pattern, acknowledge what is happening. This helps you step back from the thought, separating if from reality and enabling you to consider it from a more impersonal perspective.
- Connect with Reality – You can further distance yourself from a thought by focusing on what is real. Use your five senses to examine the world around you. This redirects your thoughts to basic truths so that you can begin to examine the negative thoughts you noted.
- Try Mindfulness – If you have time in the moment, you can consider the emotions you hold around such thoughts, or you can save this thinking for a moment of mindfulness later in the day. Analyzing thoughts and emotions without judgement is key in letting them go.
- Neutralize the Thought – The final step is to admit that the thought is just a thought. It might not be completely true and it certainly is not helpful. Therefore, it does not define your identity or hold power over who you are.
Of course, while these steps may seem straightforward here, they can be far more difficult to accomplish in a moment where you are actually having untrue or negative thoughts. If you have been struggling to let go of negative thought patterns, another step is to work with a psychologist who can help you understand your unproductive thoughts but not let them control your life.