Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org. Let's talk about negative thoughts.
In this quick self-help segment, I am going to cover negative thoughts, what they are,
set your expectations for how they work, and give you some techniques that you can use
to cope with them, deal with them, and eliminate them.
Automatic Negative Thoughts
So, starting with negative thoughts or, as many of us call them, "automatic thoughts" -- because that's what they are -- what we don't realize is how many of these thoughts we're actually having and how unconsciously, spontaneously, and automatically we're having them throughout our days.
Whether it's a negative thought about your girlfriend or boyfriend, a negative thought about
what somebody did to you while you were driving to work, or a negative thought about
having to go to the gym, or a negative thought about what's going to be happening to you
next month when you can't pay the bills, your mind is really good at taking your greatest fears
and projecting them and catastrophizing them. It just creates the worst possible case scenarios
and then puts them right before your eyes and flashes them right before you.
So, no matter what your greatest fears are in life,
the chances are that you're having a lot of negative thoughts around that fear.
Your Greatest Fear
I do tend to find that it's one or two main fears.
This is probably something like an issue that crept up and kind of stuck with you from childhood
or early adulthood. These things tend to be centered around, for example, the fear of failure.
Maybe you have a fear of winding up poor and homeless. Maybe you have a fear of
not winding up in a good relationship and being lonely and dying miserable and unloved.
Maybe you have a fear of really getting rejected by somebody if you put yourself out there,
whether it's in a relationship or a business context. Maybe you have a fear of failure
in going and trying some sort of goal and then not succeeding at it
you couldn't do that." So, you have a fear of failure of that kind of embarrassment or humiliation.
There are many different types of core or fundamental fears, but whatever yours is,
it's going to be like a filter that you look and filter your whole day through.
This will tend to happen again and again and again. So, one first step to starting to eliminate negative thoughts is to become very conscious. Become very aware of when
you are having negative thoughts and what is the topic that its revolving around.
I guarantee to you that you'll be shocked if you have not done this exercise.
Increase Your Awareness
Spend the next three days just being very aware of what it is that you're thinking. What you might want to do, practically, is just randomly stop for five minutes three times a day and ask yourself, "What am I feeling right now and what am I thinking?" What you'll notice is
that if you're feeling negatively or if you're feeling anxious or stressed or worried or overwhelmed, there's an associated thought with that and that thought is going to be some sort
of negative automatic thought that you might not have even realized that you were having.
It might be something like, "Well, I'm feeling overwhelmed right now and the reason I'm feeling
that way is because I'm thinking that I have a hundred things that I need to do before the end
of the week and if I don't do that, then something bad will happen." That's usually where
your subconscious mind will fill in that blank with your worst imaginable fear. You might think, "Well, if I don't get all this stuff done this week, then I might get fired and I might not be able to pay my mortgage and then the bank will repossess my house and then I'll wind up on the street
and I'll never be able to recover from that and I'll be homeless and poor for the rest of my life."
So, maybe that's what your brain is projecting into your mind.
Or maybe it's something like, "Well, if I don't get all of this stuff done, then my spouse
or my boyfriend or my girlfriend will think less of me and they won't love me anymore.
Maybe they'll leave me and I'll not ever be able to replace them and get into a good relationship.
So, I'll wind up alone and miserable and nobody will ever want me because I'm unlovable
and not successful in their eyes." So, maybe it's something like that.