If you’re caught up in a cycle of negative thinking, it’s all too easy to feel that you have no choice but to let your thoughts continue to dominate you.
What if you could find a way to let go of negative thoughts and break the hold that they have over you? This can be a genuine reality if you can retrain your brain to change how you think and feel, and it’s not as difficult as you might think.
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Negative thinking is essentially a habit and like all habits, it can take a while to fully break the control it has. Think of it like a muscle: building it up doesn’t happen overnight but over time, it leads to better emotional strength and resilience. For most people change happens very quickly with hypnotherapy but it can take between 6-12 sessions to ensure the good habits become second nature.
I’m going to talk about retraining your mind to think positively, rather than negatively, and give you some tips on how it works.
What is negative thinking?
Negative thinking often involves judging, criticising and doubting yourself at every turn. These thoughts can pop into your mind completely out of the blue and their effects can be truly confidence zapping and soul destroying.
Some of the forms that negative thinking can take include:
How negative thoughts fuel anxiety
We all experience negative thinking sometimes and in itself, it’s not a big issue.
The problems begin when we believe our negative thoughts and automatically accept them as fact. Not taking a step back from them and questioning whether they have any basis means negative thoughts can act as instant triggers for the fight-or-flight stress response.
It fools your brain into believing that there is an immediate threat that needs to be dealt with and the physical symptoms of the fight-or-flight response quickly kick in.
Some aspects of negative thinking are based on things that are happening in the present but your worries can quickly move from here to the future. This can lead to anxiety about ‘what if?’ scenarios affecting your health, finances, relationships and other parts of your life. At its worst, this can result in chronic, debilitating anxiety and panic attacks.
It’s not hard to see how negative thoughts can completely dominate your mind, to the point that they crowd out everything else, and affect your physical health.
Retraining your mind is one of the best ways to control negative thoughts and the anxiety they create.
Encouraging your brain to think more positively can feel overwhelming, especially if negative thoughts and beliefs have been part of your life for a long time.
A few things to keep in mind
Your thoughts do not define you: Your thoughts and your mind in general are just a part of who you are. Negative thoughts aren’t true in many cases and don’t validate ‘truths’ about yourself – no matter how real they may feel. Being able to separate yourself from your thoughts means they won’t have the same power and control as before.
Be aware of how you think: Negative thinking can become second nature and you may not even realise how much it is happening. Becoming really conscious of your thoughts is the first step to being able to change things, allowing you to be aware of every negative thought that comes into your mind. Paying this level of attention to them brings a sense of mindfulness and helps you to take a vital step back. This starts to reduce a lot of the power that negative thoughts hold over you. And eventually, the power disappears altogether.
Don’t fight your thoughts: When you become aware of a negative thought, trying to fight against it gives it more power in your mind. Acknowledging it briefly (as a thought rather than a fact) and then letting it ‘float’ away without giving yourself the opportunity to believe it takes away this power and allows you to regain some control over your thoughts. Positive imagery can help here. Imagining that you can literally see your negative thoughts floating off into the distance can be very liberating. One key thing here: trying to judge, ignore or change a negative thought helps it to retain its power.
Visualise yourself being more positive: When you are caught up in a cycle of negative thinking, it can be almost impossible to see yourself being a positive person in the future but this is where visualisation and positive imagery techniques can really come into their own. This can be a powerful tool for encouraging change, which is one of the big reasons why it’s used in hypnotherapy.
Keep a positivity/gratitude diary: Before you go to bed, think about 3 things that have been good about the day or that you feel grateful for. This is one of things I ask my clients to do in between our sessions as it’s a great way to focus your mind on being more positive. Over time, it can help to retrain your brain to move away from negative thinking onto more positive ground.
Hypnotherapy can help: Hypnotherapy is a very effective intervention for anxiety and stress. One of the big plus points of hypnotherapy is the ability to access the subconscious mind, which is where habits and patterns of behaviour are formed, including negative thinking. Because it works at a subconscious level, it can be successful in changing habits and behaviours, even when other approaches fall short. Some of the tools that can do this include positive suggestions and imagery.
Negative thinking can be a difficult habit to break and if you’re feeling overwhelmed by it at the moment, don’t despair! It’s not an overnight process but it is definitely possible to retrain your mind to think more positively. Lots of my clients have been able to do this very successfully through hypnotherapy.