It’s bad enough to suffer from anxiety attacks but to add on the constant worry and negative thoughts that can plague your mind can make anxiety disorder unbearable. It can seem impossible to stop all of the negative fantasies that haunt you, but there is a secret. To stop these thoughts, you first need to understand why they’re happening.
Our minds can be tricky. They tend to latch on to the things that we wish they would leave alone. We dwell on thoughts that we try to avoid and immediately bring up images we’re attempting to block out. It’s like trying not to think of a pink elephant – that ends up being the first thing you think of.
Why Does This Happen?
Well, it isn’t because your mind is out to make your anxiety worse or sabotage you in some way. Your mind is simply delivering up these types of negative thoughts because it thinks that’s what you are asking for.
When we put so much energy into avoiding negative thoughts, it just feeds them. All of that effort and energy makes our brains think these images must be what we want. Others wise why would we devote so much time to them?
Think of it this way: your mind doesn’t understand words like “don’t.” So when you think “I don’t want to think of being broke” your mind only understands “think of being broke.” Our brains are only serving up what they think we want to see.
So How Do We Stop These Negative Thoughts?
By taking all of the energy out of them and not letting them become a part of you.
Normally when a negative, anxious thought occurs to you, you immediately begin to dwell on it. Suddenly you’re right in the middle of this negative fantasy with no way out. You immediately become a character in your negative story line, feeling all of the emotions as if they we really occurring.
But, if you could simply sit back and watch what was happening in a detached, unemotional way, you’d find that these negative thoughts not only had no hold on you, but they will eventually slow down and stop altogether the less you pay attention to them. This is because your worries and fears are no longer feeding these negative anxieties.
Think of your negative thoughts like a child throwing a tantrum – giving into them only makes them worse. Once the child realizes the tantrum isn’t working, they’ll eventually stop.
The Process for Stopping Negative Thoughts
Next time you find yourself being overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, I want you to try this quick exercise:
Simply sit still for a moment and pretend that you are sitting peacefully underwater while all around you beautiful bubbles float by.
Now imagine that some of these bubbles are coming from you, sprouting directly out of the top of your head. And in each of these bubbles is one of the negative thoughts or images that are bothering you. See each thought or image form into a bubble and float lazily away.
Don’t try to force them out or make them do anything, that kind of effort will only feed the negativity. Simply sit for a moment and watch in an amused and detached way as those bubbles drift away by.
I won’t say this is an instant cure. Like I said earlier, this takes practice. You’ll need to get used to what it feels like to deal with negative thoughts in this way. You’ll need to be mindful of how you feel and what emotions are occurring to you as this happens. These observations will allow you to make even greater changes in the future. But watching these bubbles float by and simply watching them without indulging them will keep you grounded and centered without getting caught up in the negativity.
Soon, these negative thoughts will give up and stop coming to you at all.
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