How I deal with negative thoughts

As a relative newcomer to understanding myself truly, I still get caught up at times in negative thoughts when someone comments on a particular choice of mine. I’m studying a Masters of Teaching at the moment but my desire is to take this knowledge and apply it broadly to education, society, community, parents and more. I’m not sure of the exact job I plan to be in, in fact, I find it limiting to think this way. But so often, when people ask me what I’m doing, and what I’m studying, I find myself having to go along with the idea that I will be a teacher, full time in a classroom.

Photo by James Forbes on Unsplash

So many people think in ways that for me feel limiting. I find it almost impossible to think of my life as stable and consistent or unchanging. I can see myself changing careers, directions, locations every decade or so. For me, the people I find inspiring are those who have had major changes and embraced each one with courage. When someone judges my choices, by commenting that more study (such as a PhD) or working in research or policy is not the right choice, I have to remind myself not to over analyse and stress out about the implications.

Exploring how I can better manage these negative thoughts and emotions is key to becoming a stronger and more independent person. Some of the strategies I have found helpful are:

Minimalism

Of course, this was going to be the first strategy! It has been so powerful for me to let go of the things I don’t need or value, to focus on my own personal values (I can highly recommend Zen Habits for help on this) and make my own choices without the input of others. For me, this is what minimalism is all about. It isn’t about owning a particular number of things or living in an all white space (but if that works for you, then go for it!). It is about what is right for me.

Counselling and Reading

Through counselling and reading many blogs and books, I have come up with a few ways to stop negative thoughts:

  • Imagine a forcefield around me and I choose the thoughts that can enter my personal space, mind and body.
  • Journaling my thoughts and beliefs
  • Writing down my beliefs and values and revisiting them regularly
  • Having a simple phrase to banish negative thoughts – for me, it is this too shall pass
  • Stopping obsessive thinking by visualising a big RED stop sign
  • Affirming my beliefs by stating a phrase such as ‘this is not productive, it is what it is and I can not change it’

I believe thinking on this level is crucial to being happy and relaxed as a mother; it’s not always possible nor am I a perfect role model, I am far from relaxed all the time. Fighting anxiety is an ongoing and lifelong battle. And when circumstances such as health, financial or other situations impact your life, it can heighten anxiety from a manageable baseline. In those moments, having strategies and skills to turn to may make all the difference

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