Tips for Hindering Negative Habitual Thinking

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The bad news about negative habitual thinking is that it’s negative.

The good news about negative habitual thinking is that it’s habitual.

Because it’s based in habit, it can be stopped (as in ‘habits can be broken’).

For reelz.

Here are FIVE TIPS for hindering – and hopefully eventually stopping – your negative habitual thinking:

[1] Talk to yourself.

When negative habitual thoughts jump or slide or creep into your mind, tell yourself that they are negative habitual thoughts.

Say it out loud. Unless you’re on public transportation.

“This is not a real feeling or thought. This is a negative habitual thought.”

[2] Think about something else. 

My go to is “what should I wear tomorrow?”

I can get caught up in the mind-boggling ‘what should I wear’ analysis very quickly.

So now my good habit is that when a negative habitual thought pops or crawls into my head, I immediately think about what I will wear the next day.

If I were a better cook, I’d think about what I was going to cook. But I’m not there yet.

[3] Stop the activity that triggers the negative habitual thinking.

I used to cry while driving.

As soon as a sad song came onto the radio, I would cry.

Unfortunately, in the throes of depression, even the happiest songs sound sad.

I cried a lot. While driving.

Then I stopped listening to the radio. I began only listening to audio books or my own music mixes while driving. And I didn’t include songs I know to be a trigger for me.

No George Michael. No. No. NO.

And now I can drive without crying.

It’s just like magic except it’s not.

[4] Realize how ridiculous the negative habitual thought really is.

Here’s an example of what that means.

Do you think everybody thought poorly of you today? Do you think they were talking about you? Guess what…that’s ridiculous. Do you know how I know? Because I know that they were, in fact, thinking about themselves. Because that’s what people do. They think about themselves. If you think I’m wrong, ask yourself this question:

“Who did I think about all day today?”

You! You thought about you! See? Everyone spends the day thinking about themselves.

Remember that the next time you think they were thinking about you.

And learn to challenge your own negative habitual thoughts.

[5] Reward yourself.

No, I don’t mean that you should reward yourself for thinking negative habitual thoughts.

I mean that you should trade in the negative habitual thought for a reward.

Instead of obsessing, walk to Starbucks or 7-11 or the corner store. Walk outside. Pick up the phone. Call a friend. Watch a sitcom that makes you laugh. Dance to one favorite song. Buy a pack of gum. Jog a block.

Do something tiny and cheap and quick that takes the place of the negative habitual thought.

It works.

Good luck finding the trick that works for you!

And let us know how it goes!

xoxo, d

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