How to Combat Negative Thoughts
We all have negative thoughts from time to time. When negative thoughts about ourselves, others, or a situation persists, we fall into a rabbit hole. When this occurs, we can feel ashamed, aimless, and hopeless, which affects our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
Perhaps you've tried praying, breathing exercises, or meditating but found it challenging to stop these thoughts. Here are some active ways to combat negative narratives:
Honesty: Starting from a place of honesty about our feelings is healthy for us. Denying, hiding, and minimizing what's happening breeds false narratives.
Recognize the feeling: Instead of shaming or criticizing our sense of worth for the way we feel, we can recognize that emotions are fleeting and are not permanent. We can then acknowledge our feelings. For example: "This is anger; this is anxiety; this is insecurity."
Awareness: Our thoughts are usually caused by a situation that occurred. Many therapists utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to help us become aware of our thoughts and connect the pieces. After recognizing and acknowledging our feelings, we can pause and ask ourselves, what happened? What thoughts were provoked due to the circumstances? Sometimes, we may not know or understand what caused us to have negative thoughts. In this case, it might help to talk to someone you trust or a professional therapist/counselor who can walk and guide you to dive deeper.
Need: We all have needs. Often, our thoughts and feelings reveal unmet needs. Ask yourself, "What do I need at this moment? What would make me feel better? What are some things in my control, and how can I take realistic steps forward?"
Fill Your Mind with Truth: Our feelings and thoughts don't always make things factual. When we pray to Jesus, we know we can be honest even with our weaknesses and brokenness because he delights in truth and doesn't shame us. Instead, he embraces us and already knows what we are thinking. We can approach God actively by opening our Bibles and posturing our hearts to hear, allowing him to fill and renew our minds with the truth. We can invite God to give us peace beyond our understanding, to understand His perspective on the situation, and declare the identity He has spoken over us.
It does not mean that negative thoughts will never creep into our minds or that uncomfortable feelings will completely disappear. However, as we become more acquainted with and implement these steps, they will assist us in regulating our negative thoughts and live life more abundantly.
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