Whether you’re simply can’t let go of overthinking, a good way cope effectively is be targeting your negative thoughts.
“Replace your negative thoughts.” “”Just think positive” are two common pieces of advice that you may hear from the mental health experts. Although it may be the most effective strategy for people who have overcome depression, not everyone has found it suitable.
The question is—Is it really that simple to replace your negative thoughts? Can we really change, subtract, remove, or delete them? Most often not. Not only does it takes willpower, but changing those doesn’t guarantee if new thoughts are realistic enough to rely on.
Don’t Subtract, but Add to Your Negative Thoughts
This two column worksheet is designed on the principle that—you don’t have to subtract, or minimise your negative thoughts. Instead, you may add new learning experiences. For instance: If you tell yourself “I’m a failure,” you don’t have to replace it with a positive thought—“I’m sure I can succeed.” Instead, you may think of times when yoy succeeded in the task at hand.
If you tell yourself “I’m unlovable,” then write down or keep an on the times when you actually felt loved. The more experiences that you collect, the easier it may be to dispute your original negative thought. Finally, you may come up with a new thought “Sometimes I may feel like I’m unlovable, but in general I’m surrounded by people who love me.”
This worksheet encourages you to discover the context of thoughts beyond the negative ones and ultimately reduce how frequently you have a negative thought.
Write down a list of negative thoughts that you struggle to cope with. In the second column, make a note of all the learning experiences that signify the opposite of your negative thought. Lastly, come up with a replaced thought that aligns better with your experiences that you have collected.
Explore Alternatives to Your Negative Thoughts
What would a calm and a kind friend tell you if you shared your thoughts with him/her?
How would they react to your thoughts? What would they say?
What things would you gain if you gave up on the thought?
If your thought was true, what can you do to prepare for the worst outcomes?
Use a Thought Record to Keep Track
Having a thought record helps you give a picture on how your thoughts cause an emotional reaction. In addition, it will also help you to be able to break your thought patterns into smaller, manageable ones, and replace the irrational ones with thoughts that would rather serve you.
Remind Yourself of Things that are Going Well
When you’re having negative thoughts, it is easier to look upto things that we want to achieve. However, since we find ourselves nowhere close to our objectives, we find it rewarding to dwell onto the negative thoughts. However, counting your small wins, and the things that are actually going well—is the key to coping effectively.
Think of a time or a situation when something did go well. Ask yourself “What is it about me that has contributed to the good thing happening?” “How can I do more of it in the future?”
- I Feel Anxious: 15+ Questions to Deal with Anxiety
- 28 Things You Can Vs Can’t Control to Stop Worrying
- How to Practice Worry Time to Get Rid of Anxiety?
Self Care & Journaling
Sally George is a Psychologist & the Editor of Gentle Meanings. She shares thought-provoking tools, asks insightful questions, and encourages her readers to be gentle with themselves.