Struggling with negative thinking?
At The Self Centre, we work with a lot of people experiencing negative thoughts and low mood. It is not uncommon to have negative thoughts, or even low mood from time to time, but when these experiences show up regularly in our daily lives we begin to suffer. Experiencing low mood is not your fault, nor is it something to be ashamed about. I like to see feelings as messengers, they are here to tell us something about ourselves. Our job as psychologists is to help you understand why you feel the way you do and offer suggestion and strategies to help you deal with, find relief and have an impact on your life so you feel more fulfilled.
There are many different strategies that we as psychologists use to help people but one strategy that we often use at The Self Centre is to help people re-connect with their values during key times of stress and transition to support them in coping.
Sometimes, our own internal thoughts and beliefs can get in the way of allowing us to move through transitions in a healthy way. Much of the damage to our own wellbeing comes from that negative, critical voice inside our own head which may criticise us for not saying or doing the “right thing”. We may have thoughts about what we “should” or “shouldn’t” do and this negative inner dialogue goes into overdrive the moment we are out of our comfort zone. All of us have negative thoughts, the key is to notice them and not allow them to impact our life, especially through times of transition.
Common negative thought patterns that our clients mention include:
- thoughts of being unworthy or undeserving
- not being ‘good enough’
- thinking “I am a failure”
- obsession with any perceived physical flaws eg. weight, body appearance etc.
- comparing self negatively to other people
- being unloved or unlovable
When we have negative thoughts we are more likely to have uncomfortable feelings, engage in self-sabotaging behaviours and have unhealthy coping strategies in times of distress.
So, what can you do if you have lots of negative thoughts?
- Become aware of your unhelpful thoughts, and notice how they are impacting your mood and life. Become an observer, and notice your thoughts.
- Consider ways to think about yourself or a situation that are helpful or make you feel better.
- Learn to be an observer of your own experience, through practices like mindfulness. We have thoughts, feelings and experiences and just like clouds in the sky they will move on if we let them. Try to avoid getting attached to any one thought or feeling, let them move through without holding on or making them worse.
- Come up with a empowering, positive affirmation about yourself and your life. Revisit this empowering thought or intention often through your day and week. Notice how it impacts your energy and can improve your mood.
- Talk to yourself like you would talk to a cherished child – be kind, forgiving and loving. To thrive we need to hear three positives thoughts/comments for every single negative comment. Nurture yourself with words and thoughts of encouragement and watch yourself thrive and grow.
It takes time and support to learn how to manage your negative thoughts. Our team at The Self Centre want to support you to be psychologically well.
Written by Victoria Kasunic for The Self Centre.