Tools to help you
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Fighting intrusive, negative thoughts

By Jason Collins

In my work with clients, I’ve encountered people who struggle to control the intrusive, negative thoughts that often leap into their minds without warning. Mostly they start out as tiny little lies or distortions that they gradually start believing. Thoughts of fear, paranoia, self-hatred, depression, and hopelessness. The thoughts don’t start out sounding destructive to you. They just sound true. They feel normal. Like “this is the way things actually are. I’m just seeing the world for what it is. I am a failure. I am disgusting and unattractive. I don’t have any skills. Things won’t ever get better.” And they just keep spiraling down further and further. And they get louder and louder. And you get more and more isolated.

That kind of thinking leads to destructive thoughts and emotions. It almost always comes at a time when we are at our most vulnerable or hurt. Again, it’s not intentional. Nobody sets out for that place. They just wind up there gradually. And it almost always starts as a result of some tragedy or trauma or wound or grief.

Dr. Daniel Amen, the world’s greatest expert in brain health today, says one of the best treatments for negative thinking patterns is to learn how to stop believing everything you think. Test every thought. Share it with another person. Talk it out. Before you believe a thought, doubt it first. I have found his advice to be very helpful and something that I practice often within counseling sessions. 

Here are a few more tips that I have found helpful for clients:

  • Recognize and know the signs. When we are mindful of our thought patterns, we can often catch ourselves thinking negatively and counteract the thoughts before they spiral down any further. Consider making a list of common thoughts that keep coming back for you so you can recognize them before they start.
  • Have a plan in place. What will you do when the negativity begins? Engage in activities that are healthy distractions. Change your location or scenery. Practice self care. Whatever helps you break the negative pattern of thinking, have that plan ready to go when you need it.
  • Arm yourself with truth. I love Ted Lasso, the show on AppleTV! One of the characters is named Colin and after going through therapy, Colin creates what he calls his mantra. Whenever he messes up or when someone insults him or tries to bring him down, Colin just repeats his mantra out loud – “I am a strong and capable man.” He reminds himself of the truth when he gets faced with other people’s lies about him. What is your mantra? What are your strengths? Repeat it to yourself whenever you face negativity.
  • Practice honesty and vulnerability. Many people experience a sense of freedom when they tell someone about their inner thoughts and admit their struggles. Say to a trusted friend or loved one: “I’m depressed. I’m having panic attacks. I’m feeling hopeless or unworthy.” Our thoughts often lose their power when we bring them out of the darkness and into the light.

Call in reinforcements. We are most vulnerable when we are alone. Get some help. We all need it. And it’s not a sign of weakness but of strength.

At The Pursuit, a group of experienced therapists have come together to offer best in class counseling services. We prioritize clinical theory, non-judgmental approaches, and effective interventions, treatment plans, and coping skills.

We have therapists who specialize in different areas and we strive to find the best match for your unique needs. Our services cater to individuals, families, and organizations, including adolescents in high school. Our aim is to connect you with the specialist who can best address your concerns.

 Our specialized  counseling services aim to address the underlying emotional wounds that contribute to behaviors. We offer evidence-based  counseling that is effective with working many presenting problems. We provide a holistic approach to recovery, focusing on healing the past to create a healthier future. 

Are you ready to take the first step on your Pursuit towards a happier, healthier you? We invite you to book your free 20-minute consultation with one of our skilled therapists. Don’t wait; it’s time to invest in your well-being. Simply  Book Now to start your Pursuit towards personal growth and positive change today.

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