Happy 2018 – Day 8 – How can I pull myself out of a negative thought loop?

I like to beat myself up as much as the next girl. I’ve said before that I’m an optimist trapped in the body – and brain – of a pessimist. When my anxiety gets the better of me, I find myself either worrying about the future – what if I’m not a success, what if I’m embarrassed, oh god… what if I AM a success… what will I do then?! – or I mull over events of the past.

You’ve heard of people who reminiscence over their past like a golden age? If you’re an anxiety sufferer, or just naturally more prone to negativity, you’ll probably be more familiar with the dark ages. You view your past as a bad TV movie. The central character is hideously unlikeable and everyone is worse off for knowing them. Watching this movie will not make you feel good. Nor will it make you make positive predictions for your future.

So stop watching! 

Here are 3 methods that I’ve successfully used over the years to either stop watching the movie, or tune into another channel:

  1. Distract yourself. Play a song that completely contradicts the mood of the movie.  Run up and down the stairs. Brush your teeth. Go outside. Watch a YouTube clip. Just do something that forces your attention elsewhere.
  2. Breathe and watch your thoughts. Imagine that you’re sat on a bench, watching your thoughts pass by, like cars on the road. You are merely a detached observer of your thoughts. If you find yourself falling back into the thought, just acknowledge this and return to the bench.
  3. Change the movie into a comedy. silly.jpgA trusty old Paul Mckenna NLP suggestion is to replay the thought-movie but make it silly. I’ve had a lot of success with the one. In my early days of teaching, when I was really struggling with public speaking, I’d often get stuck in a loop of re-imagining my presentations along with all the feelings of horror, dread and self-pity. I used this technique to re-imagine myself standing at the front, wearing a pink ‘fro, red nose and occasionally, a human banana outfit. You just can’t invest in the misery when the movie looks like this.

Do you struggle with negative thinking? Have you had any luck with the strategies I’ve mentioned here? If you know of any tips that I’ve missed, tell me below:

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