Is the way that you’re thinking doing more harm than good?
If you often find yourself ruminating and dwelling on negative thoughts, it might be time to find ways to silence your inner critic.
How do you silence your inner critic?
This article is going to explore 10 of the most effective methods for dealing with your negative thoughts.
Let’s get started!
1) Don’t believe everything you think
Let’s begin with my personal favorite way to let negative thoughts go!
If you want to stop negative thoughts, don’t assume they are true.
Let me explain:
In my case, my negative thoughts are mainly caused by anxiety.
The worst-case scenarios go through my mind, and I start thinking awful things about myself and others.
But the problem isn’t that I’m thinking these things – it’s that I assume they are true.
The truth is they are all possible outcomes!
However, most of the time, none of them actually come true.
When I realized that I have all the reasons not to assume my negative thoughts are true, I was finally able to stop them.
Dr. Becker-Phelps, a licensed psychologist, confirms this method works:
“Just because they are driving through your mind, it does not mean they represent an objective reality. They are often more a figment of your imagination than an observation. So, for a life that flows smoothly, it is essential that you not believe everything you think.”
So, whenever you’re experiencing negative thoughts, don’t assume that they are true.
Instead, recognize them as possibilities, but not facts. This step should help you a lot.
2) Dedicate 10 minutes of your day to negative thinking
Would you like to silence your inner critic?
If you do, then listen to it – but only for 10 minutes daily.
Julie Kantor, Ph.D., a coach from Forbes Coaches Council, explains how this works:
“A paradoxical strategy to gain control over negative thinking is to commit to 10 minutes a day ruminating and reviewing them over and over again. Negative Thought Time (NTT) must be 10 minutes and must be every day.”
To be more precise, whenever your mind is flooded with negative thoughts during the day, all you need to do is to decide that you’ll think about those thoughts later.
By doing so, you can gain more control over negative thoughts and break their incessant spell over you.
The sense of urgency that usually drives your negative thoughts will be removed by dedicating a specific time of your day to think about them.
Once you decide that you’re going to focus solely on negative thoughts for 10 minutes daily, you’re likely to feel more in control over your thoughts, and you’ll start to feel more relaxed.
3) Identify the cause of your negative thinking
To silence your inner critic, it would be helpful to identify the cause of your bad thoughts.
But how do you do that?
According to Arlin Cuncic, MA, author, and writer, negative thinking patterns include jumping to conclusions, catastrophizing, overgeneralizing, labeling, emotional reasons, and “should” statements.
Let’s take them one by one and see how they affect our thinking.
- Jumping to conclusions – This type of negative thought pattern leads us to assume that we know the outcome of something without having enough data about it. The main reason for that is fear. We’re afraid of what might happen, so we make up a scenario in order to feel more prepared for whatever might happen.
- Catastrophizing – This is a way of thinking that is characterized by exaggerating an idea to the extent that it seems like something catastrophic. In reality, most often, this scenario is not as bad as we make it seem.
- Overgeneralizing – Overgeneralization happens when we tend to apply one negative event to our whole lives. It’s like we’re saying: “I had a bad performance in school, so I’m not intelligent.”
- Labeling – Label thinking is labeling ourselves or others as “bad” or “inadequate”. This is a common and destructive form of negative thinking pattern.
- Emotional reasons – This type of negative thinking is based on our emotions, and it’s usually related to some unexpressed anger and hurt.
So, whenever you’re experiencing a lot of negative thoughts, ask yourself: “Why am I thinking this way”?
4) Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
By replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones, you can easily stop the cycle of negative thoughts.
That’s because your brain will be forced to think about something else.
It might not seem like much, but even a small distraction can have a huge effect on how you’re feeling.
Even if you start with just one positive thought in response to a negative thought, it will make you feel much better.
David Taylor-Klaus, another coach from Forbes Coaches Council says that “we don’t overcome negative thought patterns, we replace them. For most of us, those negative thought patterns are well-worn neural pathways.”
So, to stop negative thoughts, you must replace them with positive ones.
According to David Taylor-Klaus, there are 4 ways to accomplish that:
- Notice when negative thoughts started going through your mind
- Acknowledge the fact that you don’t want to think that way
- Articulate what you’d like to be different
- Choose a different behavior that is actually good for you.
By doing so, you’re likely to notice that your negative thoughts come and go quickly, and you can choose not to think about them anymore.
5) Tell yourself what you need to hear
“We are mean to ourselves. Nearly 90% of self-talk is negative,” says coach Michelle Tillis Lederman.
So, what can you do about it? Telling yourself what you need to hear would help!
This method is based on the idea that we’re often mean to ourselves and instead of doing that, we should tell ourselves something a best friend would say to us.
That’s because we’re not mean to a best friend, are we?
Of course not.
We can be more compassionate and thoughtful to others because we know that they’re not always perfect.
However, if you want to let negative thoughts go, you need to accept that you’re not perfect either and find a way to encourage yourself.
What if you didn’t get that job? It’s not the only job out there, and at least you gave it a shot.
What if you didn’t succeed this time? It happens to the best of us. Just examine the way you tried and start over again!
What if your crush didn’t like you back? Maybe it’s for the best. You don’t want to waste your time with the wrong person!
6) Write down all negative thoughts
Whenever you feel negative thoughts creeping up on you, it’s very helpful to write them down.
You can do that by keeping a diary.
It’s important to write down all negative thoughts as soon as they appear because this way, you’re likely to notice them and stop them quickly.
In that way, you won’t let these thoughts consume your whole day. By writing them down, you’re setting yourself up for change.
Here’s the confirmation:
“Thought diaries also called thought records, can be used as part of any process to change negative thinking. Thought diaries help you identify negative thinking styles and gain a better understanding of how your thoughts (and not the situations you are in) cause your emotional reactions.”
So, to silence your inner critic, try to stop your negative thoughts in their tracks by writing them down.
At the end of the day, it’s a small step forward that will help you gain more control over your thinking patterns.
However, for it to work, you have to practice it every day.
In the end, if you really want to change your thinking, why wouldn’t you?
It’s a fun and challenging process that will help you be more organized and more positive about life.
7) Think about what you’re grateful for
The next way to stop negative thoughts is to think about what you’re grateful for.
Psychology Today explains why:
“Research shows that feeling grateful has a big impact on your levels of positivity and happiness. Noticing the things that are going well and making you feel happy will keep you in touch with them.”
So, to stop negative thoughts, focus on what’s good in your life.
Do it by writing down 5 things you’re grateful for every day. It’s an easy and effective way to boost your mood.
Don’t know where to start?
Try with basic things like going to work and getting a cup of coffee on your way, but feel free to add more things at a time if you’d like.
Then, ask yourself what you love, like, and appreciate.
As you start to notice more things in your life, you’ll see that the negative thoughts don’t come as often anymore.
8) Create new, healthy habits
Do we really need to overcome negative thinking patterns? Or can we simply direct our attention elsewhere?
Christine Meyer, a professional coach, explains why it would be best to create new habits in order to let negative thoughts go:
“Rather than thinking of it in terms of “overcoming” negative thought patterns, think of it in terms of establishing new habits. You do that by directing your attention to subjects where there’s nothing to overcome.”
For example, you could focus on things that you already feel good about and therefore think positively about.
What are your hobbies? Are you passionate about something? What makes you laugh? How often do you smile when you’re alone? Do you get a kick out of taking care of your home or pets? Planning a vacation?
Get in the habit of noticing these things and noticing how good it makes you feel to do them.
That’s why developing new habits is so helpful.
So, if you want to stop negative thoughts for good, create new habits that will distract you from them!
9) Write positive affirmations and repeat them every day
Affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself every day.
If you repeat these positive affirmations every day, they will become a habit and slowly transform your negative thinking patterns into more positive ones.
But what would you say?
Here are some examples:
- Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.
- I have the power to change my thoughts and that changes my mood.
- Everything in the universe conspires to support me in being happy and healthy.
- I am a good person, I am loved and blessed, and I deserve to be happy.
- I am beautiful, lovable, and a gift from the Universe.
- I can do anything, now I just need to practice!
- Today I am brave, I will face my fears and do what I need to do.
- I forgive myself for all my past mistakes, and I’m proud of myself for getting this far.
- My thoughts are only a reflection of my subconscious, and I can choose to see the good.
- I am strong and have the power to change my life.
However, you don’t have to use these statements. They are only examples to get you started.
Every affirmation is different, and they all depend on what you’re looking for.
But the most important thing is to write down a few affirmations that are applicable to your life, put them in a place where you’ll see them every day, and repeat them whenever necessary.
As you do that, you’ll build new habits which will help you stop negative thinking patterns for good!
10) Practice meditation to decrease negative thoughts
The last way to stop negative thoughts is to practice meditation.
In fact, it’s a powerful way to transform your inner critic into something positive.
That’s because meditation promotes self-acceptance, self-awareness, and compassion. It helps you understand yourself better and improve your negative thinking patterns at the same time.
The easiest way to meditate is by following the breath – inhaling for a count of three, and exhaling for a count of five – but you can choose from many other methods, including repeating a mantra or relaxing your body in any way that you can.
To practice meditation, find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed, sit comfortably, and close your eyes. Then, just focus on your breath and body.
If your mind starts to wander and you start to think negative thoughts (and it will!), focus on your breath again.
Take a deep breath in, hold it for three seconds and then exhale slowly for five seconds.
Repeat this process as many times as you need to until you’re able to focus on your breath without getting distracted.
Doing this every day will strengthen your ability to focus and decrease your negative thinking patterns.
By now you should have a better idea of how to stop negative thinking patterns.
If you figure out what causes your negative thoughts, you’ll be able to avoid these kinds of thoughts in the future.
Also, if you accept that they’re just thoughts and not facts, they’ll lose their power over you.
Most importantly, you need to remind yourself that negative thoughts are just a part of life.
Don’t forget to create new healthy habits, use positive affirmations, and practice meditation to silence your inner critic for good.