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  • Mitch Blatt

10 Tips to Fight Negative Thinking

Picture this: you’re sitting at home, minding your own business, when suddenly some negative thought pops into your head. You ignore it, but another thought pops up. Then another, and another. Pretty soon, the negativity seems inescapable. It’s not though. The Understanding’s got you covered.

We’re looking at the stories we tell ourselves, and the ways those stories can affect us. Whether those stories lean toward the negative or the positive, they heavily influence how we feel about ourselves.

Here are 10 tips to do some rewriting:

1 Think of the situation as a rollercoaster — the negative thoughts will go up and down in intensity, but eventually you’ll end up back in the good/not-nega- tive/healthy mindset you started with.

2 Maybe the roller coaster is one you can’t get off. Even so, it’s not a level track. Even if the lowest point isn’t ground-level, it’s still there. Instead of fear- ing the times of high anxiety, cherish the low ones.

3 Identify what triggers them — but don’t go out of your way to avoid triggers wholesale; instead, gradu- ally expose yourself to things that trigger you a little bit, then a little bit more, and so on (this is called “graded exposure therapy” in professional circles, and it’s best to do that with the help of a licensed professional so you don’t accidentally jump right into the deep end).

4 Take the negative thought, and recite the op- posite of it as a positive affirmation. You should do this in sets, several times a day—for example, five “reps” at breakfast, then at lunch, then at din- ner. Don’t be put off if it doesn’t work right away; I said “reps” because, like exercise, it takes time for results to show. Speaking of...

5 Exercise — no, seriously. Exercise doesn’t just keep your mind occupied, it releases neurotransmitters and hormones like endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and endocannabinoids. The first one’s responsible for pain

relief and the “runner’s high,” 2 and 3 lift mood and play a role in pleasure & motivation, and 4 plays a role in post-workout euphoria. You’re not just helping your body when you work out, you’re helping your mind, too.

6 Tell yourself that although finding victory over your negative thoughts may take a while, it WILL come. If you’re reading this far, it’s probably because you think this information is applicable to you or someone you know; if you know yourself well enough, you’ll know that you won’t just sit and wait and hope for things to get better, you’ll take action. Sooner or later, that action will pay off.

7 Explain to yourself why the negative thought is false. For example, if the negative thought is “I am going through the current negative situation alone,” list off all the people who love you. I guarantee it’s longer than you think!

8 Try self-guided visualization — you could imagine yourself floating peacefully on a cloud as all the negativity floats away. Or why not take yourself on a calm gondola ride to a peaceful island, with chirping birds and sunny skies?

9 Reframe failure — if you think of it like searching for a needle in a haystack, every failure is just making the thing one piece of hay smaller. Every failure is an opportunity for growth. Take that bad experience and use it for good!

10 Consider cognitive-behavioral therapy — to return to the roller coaster metaphor, this is like giving yourself a toolset to make the car go in reverse whenever you notice it’s going uphill. There are plenty of resources online where you can learn techniques you can use, like deep breathing or focusing on the present moment.

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