…And Create Ones that Bring You the Life You Desire
Pretty much everyone on the planet knows that thoughts create your feelings and your feelings drive your behavior – even for those who consider themselves very logical.
Most people have also noticed in their own lives that if they think happy thoughts, they tend to have a happier day. Makes sense, right? (The “chicken” that comes first is the thoughts, the happy day is the egg.)
When you’re coming out of a crisis in your life, though, sometimes your brain has gotten used to feeling bad. Justifiably, you were in grief or pain or loss, anger or depression, PTSD or fear, on and on. All the negative thoughts. You know you’re thinking mostly negative thoughts when your life is mostly sad and negative.
I’ll never advise you to get all fake and syrupy about it. I’m just offering you a technique that works whenever you’re READY to start moving away from negative thoughts. It might be a fun experiment for a day or two. It’s up to you if or when you do it.
1. Sit down somewhere… and pick a thought that represents something you’d like to attract into your life. Let’s say you’re sick of feeling angry at someone. You’d like to create a harmonious relationship, maybe with the person who cheated you or cheated on you. Your only job is to pick what you really want in your life. Form a great thought, such as “It would be really terrific if John and I had a good relationship.”
2. Hold that thought until you feel it filling your brain up. It will feel like someone poured warm honey on your brain.
3. Now come up with the closest related thought about what you want. For instance, if you and John are trying to co-parent through your divorce, you might say, “I’d love to see John being really good and patient with our kids.”
4. Hold that one too until you feel it spread over your grey matter.
5. Repeat 1-4 until you’ve strung together about 20 thoughts focused on one thing that you really want in your life.
6. Now go about your day. BUT if you catch yourself thinking or saying (which is the expression of thought) anything negative about John (in this case), you need to immediately go and repeat 1-5, so you can “wash away” the negative thought.
This isn’t hocus-pocus or New Age rah-rah stuff. You all know what I’ve been through in my life. My bio is above under “Meet Wendy”. I don’t buy into any of that craziness. But in EVERY single spiritual tradition, from Christianity to Buddhism to Islam to Judaism to Hinduism and beyond, every single one talks about controlling our thoughts, thinking positive things about other people, aligning our thoughts with our philosophies, on and on.
Here’s the deal: if it works even once – by providing you with more peace, love and joy in your life – then it was worth it, right? You’re completely entitled to staying as miserable as you choose to be, but if you’re kind of sick of those awful feelings, well, give this a shot.
PLEASE COME BACK AND COMMENT ON HOW IT WORKED FOR YOU!
19 thoughts on “How to Stop Sad or Negative Thoughts From Eating Your Life”
“You are defined by your choices, and you have thousands of them spread through a lifetime to continue re-inventing yourself.” I wrote it this morning. I think we are on the same wavelength today.
What does a person do that had a car accident and now suffers from PSTD? What does a person do that went to war and suffers from PSTD? Not sure I follow you on the idea that we are supposed to think of in our head. I can understand only the example you provided.
As someone who has also survived a fatality car crash, and who has faced PTSD from the compounded effects of a natural disaster, I can say this: when you push your brain harder than you think is possible to FORCE positive thoughts into it, even for just a few minutes at a time, you start to create new pathways. These eventually help tip the scale in favor of happiness. Try it for a month – once a day – and then you’ll know what I mean and it won’t just be a theory you can discard. Make the effort to help yourself first.
Wishing you peace, love and joy,
I’m thinking the same thoughts as Jenn! When you talk about depression, lifting ones mood is obviously something to try to achieve, but since when did PTSD become depression? PTSD is about stress!
Warm fuzzy thoughts are wonderful, but many that have panic attacks, stress related anxiety or PTSD, may only be depressed as a separate/additional problem.
As you say you have suffered from PTSD in the past then I am sure that you are aware that it’s a very serious concern to those that suffer from it and warm fuzzies won’t make it go away!
PTSD is an acronym for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s in the DSM-IV, and is partially defined by being jumpy when something triggers the trauma, having flashbacks, etc. Been there, done that. In my experience of having been formally diagnosed THREE times with PTSD for 3 different traumas, I believe that the anxiety, terror, panic, etc. that comes from PTSD is so similar to depression.
Warm fuzzies do NOT make it go away, but they are how I cured myself. I’ve never taken psychotropic drugs, don’t do any drugs, drink or any of that stuff. I think if you actually believed you could try this and see improvement. Maybe not instant healing, but progress. It’s all under your control, more than you think.
If what she has says is very difficult to understand and seems like an over-simplification, try to recognize that your brain is so accustomed to negative thoughts, be it fear, anxiety or depression or all 3, that you cannot understand positivity. It is as if someone is speaking another language. However, we all have positivity in us. We must allow it and clear way blockages and we must exercise to get back to it, like muscle memory kicks in when you work hard to get back in shape. It is not easy, but nothing is more worth working towards. Baby steps. Find one thing that want and imagine it until it no longer seems unattainable. You can do this.
Becca – so well said! Thanks! Of course it’s a new habit, of course it’s hard in the beginning. Just like any new skill. You summarized it succinctly – thanks again.
lynn bayes says:
Will try this i need to get rid of so many negative thoughts, i will try anything to have peace loving days in my life.. xxx
So nice to read that I am not crazy and that what is/was a crisis to me can only be gotten through on my own time schedule.
I have worked on mentally telling myself that what I’m thinking needs to go away ’cause I’m tired of the negative invading my mind.
It works- slowly…
Yes! Yes! Yes! I’ve struggled through bouts of insomnia after some intense family/financial crisis’. My sleeplessness would grow into exhaustion which would lead to negativity and down I would spiral. One night I began to pray and thank God for all of my blessings. I was sitting in my recliner and at some point I fell asleep. The next night I repeated this and it became a very comforting ritual when I was struggling to find sleep. Often I would drift off with a blessing on my lips … and if sleep still eluded me I had at least cleared my mind and heart of the negativity. As you said, there is no instant fix but what you capture in your mind will come out in your words & actions!
Hi there, I read the article ’cause I’m on a negative wavelength of thought for the past 4 years and I’m SICK OF IT!!! But I didn’t quite understand rule #3, and how to apply it to my 2 things that I very much want in my life: a boyfriend/good relationship who will like/love me for exactly who/what I am, and a job teaching ESL at the University in the town I’m living in. My negative thoughts tell me I won’t get either one, I’m not valuable or worthy and it will never happen. HELP! How do I apply my thinking to change the “rut” my brain has gotten into?? Thanks much for your input and your wonderful website, you and Dodinsky both!!!
Brenda, let me explain.
We’ll take the job first. First make up a statement about the ESL job. Maybe “It would be really fantastic to teach English as a Second Language at the university.” Hold onto that thought as long as you can and watch for the next one. Maybe it’s, “It would give me a great chance to interact with people from many cultures.” Hold it. Let it grow, let it warm your brain. Next, perhaps “Teaching people who come here how to speak English gives them a better chance to assimilate as immigrants, and that’s important work.” So on…
I’d focus on the job and then the boyfriend later. (No reason, I’m just guessing at the order – it doesn’t matter.) Make your thoughts connect to each other, about how wonderful it will be when you’re teaching ESL and how short your commute will be to work and how it will give you a sense of economic security and so on and so forth. Really feel the feelings – that’s the key.
Good wishes! Come back and let me know when you get the teaching assignment, ok?
I am living through some very tough times and find myself repeating the same scenarios in my head over & over that just perpetuate the negative thoughts and feelings. What is helping me is doing something different. Trying to make a conscious decision to change my thoughts.
Like one lady who posted earlier said… changing her night time ritual helped her go to sleep.
Someone wise once told me to imagine driving the same route to your job or your home over and over again for years. We do it without much thought. Then, one day you come upon a detour you knew nothing about. After reluctantly driving the detoured route; you realize it was such an easier way then what you had driven in the past. Now all yout have to do is remember it once the detour signs come down.
Thank you for your postings. They are one of my new detours that bring me hope and positive thoughts.
Great analogy, Sharon! Thanks for sharing it.
Wishing you peace, love and joy,
i appreciate your website and your replies to comments. I have tried many ways to change the negative thoughts that are preventing my healing. Besides all the situational issues I have going on, I need to heal from a physical disability. I am in a wheelchair from Multiple Sclerosis. There is a doctor who overcame MS and got out of her wheelchair, so it can be done. I got a little better physically, then felt as if I plateau’d, the other stuff (isolation, no relationship, no future, etc) gets in the way, and the negative spiral invades everything. I try to think positively and into the future, but I get stuck with the physical evidence of my disability.
Would you mind giving me some specific thoughts as you did for Brenda above? Or some advice about how to disregard the physical evidence of what I am not able to do.
thank you so much
I’m so sorry to hear of your disability! I can’t begin to imagine what that feels like on a daily basis, although I was in a wheelchair for about 4 months after a car accident. I was shocked at how people treated me as if I was retarded and deaf, just because I was in a chair. It’s incredible how different the world sees someone who is physically handicapped.
Casey, do you know the work of my friend the AMAZING W Mitchell? He self-published a book called “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about”. if you Google W Mitchell, you’ll be so inspired! I’d start there if I was you.
Sending you love, joy and peace,
How can i achieve my self esteem, My selfesteem is very low, i can not say anything confidently, because of that i have face many problems, sometimes i think that its everything because of my lower middle class family. sometimes i have many negative think for my self. i am very sad for my career,what should i do.?
It is very sad you feel that way! I think you probably come from a culture that is stratified, with people from one class looking down on people from another. We have that in the USA, too, but mostly our separation is between those who do or don’t have money. And in many countries, people prejudice themselves against immigrants or certain ethnic groups. There’s a lot of that in Europe presently. It’s unfortunate humans don’t consider one another equally, or on the merits of character, but judgement is pervasive in every society.
Seeing as that is true, the individual can only take responsibility for himself/herself. One of the best ways I know to build self esteem is to consider the character traits one wishes to develop or strengthen. For instance, patience. Each morning for a week, remind yourself you are actively building patience that day, and observe yourself being or not being patient as you work through the week. Grade yourself each day. Choose the next character trait for the next week. American patriarch Benjamin Franklin discusses this method in his biography. Becoming self-observant and catching yourself doing things right, becoming a better person, and making progress will greatly enhance your self-esteem.
My best wishes to you, Alok.