We all have negative thoughts at some time. Often we can be our worst critic, and we would never dare to say those things to somebody else.
When suffering anxiety, negative thoughts (as well as feelings) can overwhelm us. However, the thoughts themselves aren't in fact the issue, after all thoughts are just words, they are not the truth.
However, we tend to see them as real, true, and therein lies the problem. The more frequent the negative thoughts, the more we believe them. Often, our reaction to these thoughts is to try and ignore them or to try and push them away; and the more we notice that they are there, the more worked up we get.
Negative thoughts can make us feel stressed, anxious, depressed and hopeless. However, they can be overcome.
Hypnotherapy and NLP can be successful when treating negative thoughts and anxiety. I also often encourage people to utilise some techniques that I have learned from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based program for overcoming stress, anxiety and depression. The techniques enable us to experience our thoughts as just words, not the truth. Therefore we are no longer struggling to suppress them, instead allowing them to be there without us reacting emotionally. This results in the negative thoughts dissipating and disappearing completely.
I've included information below on some of those techniques. It's good to try one technique at a time, trying it out as many times in a day as you can, when you notice the negative thoughts, and seeing how helpful it is to you. One technique may be more successful than another for you, as we are all different.
1. I’m having the thought that …
You can use this technique for any unpleasant thought. For example, if your thought is “life sucks”, then simply acknowledge “I’m having the thought that life sucks”. Using this phrase means you’re less likely to get beaten up or pushed around by your thoughts. Instead you step back and see those thoughts for what they are: nothing more than words passing through your head.
2. I notice that I’m having the thought that ……
Similar to above, though for example if your thought is “life sucks”, then simply acknowledge “I notice that I’m having the thought that life sucks”.
3. Hear thoughts sung to Happy Birthday – or other tunes
4. Hear thoughts in silly voices:
This is particular good with recurrent negative self judgements. Pick an animated cartoon character with a silly voice e.g. Bugs Bunny, now bring to mind the troubling thought that “hear it” in the cartoon characters voice, as if that character was speaking your thoughts out loud. Notice what happens. You could then try a different cartoon character or fantasy character e.g. Yoda, Darth Vader.
If you would like to read up further on this technique, take a look at the book "the happiness trap" by Dr Russ Harris or take a look at the Happiness Trap website:
However, if you would like to get one-to-one help, please feel free to contact me to see how I can help you.
Author: Maria Hancock
Hypnotherapist, Mindfulness and NLP Practitioner with Psychology degree and MSc.
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