Automatic Negative Thoughts
Updated: Feb 9, 2020
“My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which have never happened.” Mark Twain
Do you often predict the worst?
You know... act as if you're a fortune teller?
One of the best gifts I have ever given myself is working on reducing my negative thought patterns.
I was naturally very pessimistic due to my environmental conditioning. You know being surrounded by a bunch of assholes who like to point out everything wrong in life.
So my automatic negative thoughts and expecting the worst in every situation came easy as fuck for me.
You need to understand that you can't believe every negative thought that goes through that pretty little head of yours. We tend to believe our thoughts whether they are true or not — simply because that beautiful negativity bias wired in and the fact that we never check ourselves to examine if our thoughts are rational, logical, or true.
Unless you want to be a slave to your negative predictions — and continue the cycle of self-sabotage via your self fulfilling prophecies — then you must get control of your automatic negative thoughts
The first step is to recognize when these thoughts present themselves. Identify, and then reject or reframe the negative thought.
Do not accept all thoughts that come into your conscious awareness. Thoughts are just thoughts. Not facts.
They are often inaccurate — and just fears produced by our conditioning. Events that occur in your life do not all have inherent meaning. You place value and meaning by the way you interpret and filter the event through your belief system.
Do you catch yourself thinking;
“I’m not good enough.”
“I wish I had more in this life.”
“I wish I was more disciplined?”
Well if you believe that automatic negative thought then guess what?
Instead you want to reframe this thought with;
“I am good enough.”
“I will have what I need.”
“I am disciplined.”
What I do:
1.) I keep a thought journal. This is where I write down my automatic limiting negative thoughts. I will include some tables in here to help check yourself and identify irrational beliefs.
This stops the process and lets me analyze my thought patterns quicklike.
I label the thought as unhelpful, and reframe it on paper.
This helps me see things quicker than trying to work it out mentally. You may notice a common theme to the thoughts or that certain individuals or situations trigger them.
2.) I reframe wording in my journal to ease my mind. Words fucking matter friends. Change “I hate that lady” to “I really am not a fan of that persons behaviors”.
This inevitably places less negativity on a situation.
Remember: When dealing with difficult people or situations — you can always learn something from them.
Despite automatic thoughts that this situation is useless and that person is a evil spawn of satan — I reframe it to I always learn something from every experience.
This is a more lengthy solution; but for those thought patterns that are stuck, the only solution is to unravel your limiting beliefs, by proving yourself wrong so to speak via writing it out. No one wants to do the work but it must be done if you truly desire change and a happy life. Things just don't magically happen without doing the work.
Most of the time our thoughts are assumptions that we make from the data we collected at that time molded from our personal biases.
This is not all the data available in most cases, it's also layered with logical fallacies and is cognitive distortions. By reframing your negative thoughts into something more uplifting and, ironically, probably more realistic — you facilitate change.
So go back and find more information and prove yourself wrong. You can find a worksheet here.
Important to note here: reframing "should" and "shouldn't" statements can shift the success of whatever behavior you're attempting to shift. Why? Because stating I "should" exercise implies that you don't exercise or you don't want to. Instead change it to one of the following:
“I look forward to exercising."
“It's important to me that I exercise."
“I love the way I feel after I exercise."
These new reframed thoughts may feel fake as fuck initially — but eventually they will feel authentic as the new habit is established. This works for "shouldn't" ideas too. Say you want to quit smoking — instead of saying "I shouldn't smoke," transform this statement to one of the following:
“I’m not the kind of person who smokes."
“I choose not to smoke."
“I feel great when I don’t smoke."
Negative thought patterns cause stress on your system. This inevitably causes anxiety and tension. To be truly content in this life you must deal with the way you approach life and the way you perceive situations.
You will never achieve optimal health letting these thoughts run on autopilot.
Your brain predominantly works in negative thoughts and does so for a very good reason — to ensure your safety. However ANTs can infest your mind and become a detrimental habit that no longer serves you and holds you back in life. Paying attention and being mindful of the relentless negative mental chatter is by far the best thing you can do for yourself.
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