When it comes to stress or anxiety, it helps to remember that our negative thoughts are not facts. Have you ever paused to think whether what you’re currently thinking is actually true?
The first thing to bear is mind is that thoughts only exist in your mind. They are not real. Just because they appear there, doesn’t make them true. It is unfortunately a fact, that most thoughts and observations about actual reality that pop into our minds are negative. A lot of that negativity is aimed at ourselves, making us feel bad. How often do we spend thinking about things that have gone well, our achievements, compared to the things that had room for improvement? Thoughts can appear to be real to us when we give them enough attention.
You wouldn’t believe a stranger who comes up to you and says something negative about you, so why believe yourself? We can be our own worst critics, can’t we? Many times, when we are stressed, we are stressed about possible future outcomes or a narrative we have given an existing situation – not about things that are really happening.
The important thing to do in these cases is to learn to catch those thoughts. Acknowledge their existence, then let them go. We don’t need to entertain them. We don’t need to believe them. It is important to avoid that inner dialogue that leads you downward in a negative spiral. If you keep mulling over those negative thoughts, it reinforces them within your mind making them seem more and more real.
Whether these thoughts are an ongoing narrative (or perception) about what’s happening right now, or your mind’s prediction of what’s going to happen in the future, our mind wants to accept them as the truth. The fact that this narrative is often negative makes everyday life so difficult. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if we could turn down the volume of these thoughts?
How mindfulness can help deal with negative thoughts
Mindfulness is a great way to deal with these runaway thoughts. We can catch them when they appear, notice them but not let them get out of hand. Mindfulness is a way to concentrate on what’s going on around you in detail. What are you seeing, feeling, hearing and thinking right now? The more you practice this, the easier it is for you to spot when thoughts are entering your mind that are unhelpful to your current situation.
At the Work Well Practice we run Mindfulness courses in the workplace that can help employees reduce stress at the source – their minds. To find out more and to get in touch, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 075 222 777 22.