One of the key traits of mentally tough people is that they adopt a positive mindset, which enables them to tackle life’s challenges with confidence and dismiss negative thoughts.
In a typical day we have about 50,000 thoughts and feelings, of which 70% are negative. This inbuilt negativity bias is nature’s way of alerting us to danger but negative thoughts can easily envelop us and hang around our day like a black cloud. Feeling negative restricts our confidence and drive towards making things happen and so it is essential to be able to dismiss negative thoughts and replace them with more positive thoughts.
Here are five easy ways to dismiss negative thoughts as suggested by Thought Suppression expert, Daniel Wegner, courtesy of the excellent Psyblog.
Different techniques work for different people so its often trial and error to find the one that works for you.
1. Focused distraction
The natural tendency when trying to get your mind off something is to try and distract yourself by thinking about something. The theory goes that the mind wanders around looking for new things to focus on, hopefully leaving you in peace. Distraction does work but studies suggest it is better to distract yourself with one thing and concentrate on things you know are positive to you – a person or a place or a favourite movie or sporting team.
2. Postpone the thought until later
While continuously trying to suppress a thought often makes it come back stronger, postponing it until later can work and this is the technique that works best for me. When you have anxious and negative thoughts agree (with yourself) to “park” them until a designated 30-minute ‘worry period’ in the future. By doing this you may be able to clear your mind until later. By then you are better prepared for the negativity.
3. Self-affirmation-the little person on your shoulder
Self-affirmation involves thinking about your positive traits and beliefs which help you get rid of negative thoughts, and, over time, increase your social confidence and self control. This little man or woman on your shoulder helps you banish negativity and replace it with positive thoughts of self-affirmation.
4. Focus directly on the negative thoughts
Another useful technique is to head straight for the negativity and concentrate on it. It seems paradoxical that focusing in on a negative thought might help it go away, but some research based on the long-established principle of ‘exposure therapy’ suggests it can work. It seems to me that this is an attempt to “outwit “ the anxiety and negativity and bully it to go away.
5. Accept the negativity
Along similar lines, but not as direct as the focus approach, there is some evidence that trying to accept unwanted thoughts rather than doing battle with them can be beneficial.
Good luck with experimenting with these suggested approaches and hopefully you can banish those unwanted and negative thoughts today and ensure a high level of confidence.
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