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Toxic Thoughts – How to Drown out the Negative Thinking and Find Freedom

Negative thoughts can be brutal. We take the good with the bad thoughts, but sometimes the negative, toxic thoughts win.

Do any of these negative thoughts sound familiar?

I’m never going to be good enough.

I’m not capable.

I don’t work as hard as they do. They’ll get recognized more than me I’m sure.

I’m not loved.

The truth is that we are our worst critiques. We expect ourselves to be perfect. We expect ourselves to be the best worker, parent, teacher, or guardian. We tend to also compare ourselves to others around us. We ask ourselves, am I doing this role, job, or relationship right?

What is a Negative Thought?

Negative thoughts are thoughts that make us feel sad, anxious, or depressed. They are thoughts that steal our confidence, joy, and capabilities of performing well in our daily roles.

A recent study was conducted by the University of Cambridge testing whether suppressing negative thoughts benefited individuals. The study revealed that participants who suppressed the negative thoughts “found that not only did these become less vivid, but that the participants’ mental health also improved.”

Overpowering the negative thoughts can be challenging but ultimately helpful for our future selves.

A specific environment may trigger negative thoughts in our minds. The environment, whether that be our occupation, leadership role, a relationship, or a task, it may begin to make us feel stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or frustrated. When we begin to experience these emotions, the negative, toxic thoughts take effect.

If you are experiencing a negative environment along with pessimistic thoughts, try some of these exercises to overpower and conquer the lies within your mind.

Small Ways to Fight Negative Thoughts

As human beings, the most important thing to remember is that we have the ability to choose. We can choose right from wrong. We have the ability to choose a positive thought, and we have the ability to choose a negative thought.

Author Stephen R. Covey shares in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” that “In the space between stimulus (what happens) and how we respond, lies our freedom to choose. Ultimately, this power to choose is what defines us as human beings. We may have limited choices, but we can always choose.”

When you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, or anxious, one way to overpower the thoughts is to recognize what you are currently feeling. Recognize the emotion that you are currently experiencing.

Ask yourself these questions when identifying and recognizing the emotions: What emotion am I experiencing right now? Why might I be feeling this way?

Next, after identifying that emotion, challenge yourself to let it go. Release it into the air by taking a deep breath.

After releasing and taking a deep breath, you may feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders. If recognizing the emotions didn’t help, try capturing the negative thought. Replace the thought with a more empowering, positive phrase or statement.

When you find that the negative thoughts are hurtling after your mind, replace that negative thought with a positive blessing, empowering quote, or positive phrase. Try positive thinking like this:

I can do this.

I have a choice to believe these negative lies. I choose to not believe today.

I will get through this stressful, frustrating time in my life.

This circumstance is not the end.

I will overcome.

By replacing the negative lies with positive affirmations, our minds can begin to experience freedom from the lies that constantly overwhelm us.

Lastly, when we find our negative thoughts thriving, we need to make sure we are taking care of our physical well-being too. Eating well, sleeping well, and being active has a huge role in affecting mental well-being.

Staying active by taking a walk, eating food that is healthier for our bodies, and getting appropriate sleep can help alleviate some of the troublesome thoughts.

Taking a Mental Health Day

Occasionally, a mental health day is needed. Working fewer hours or distancing yourself from the environment that is causing the negative thoughts to surface could be helpful as well.

A mental health day is defined by the Mayo Clinic Health System as, “an intentional act to alleviate distress and poor mood and motivation, while improving attitude, morale, functioning, efficiency and overall well-being.”

A mental health day could be finding something that makes you feel joyful, smile, or laugh. It could be spending more time with the kids compared to working on tasks that need completed for work.

Sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, or play with your pets more. Going for a run could be an option, or listening to music could be another. Finding a hobby or activity that gets you out of the hostile, toxic thoughts environment can help you experience some mental freedom.

Planning a mental health day can ultimately benefit in releasing the negative thoughts from occurring. Taking a break every so often is needed.

Ultimately, never forget that we have a choice in how we respond to emotions as well as how we respond to the circumstances in front of us.

Reminding ourselves of the blessings in our lives, reiterating positive affirmations, taking care of our physical well-being, or taking a mental health day are all beneficial ways to alleviate the toxic thoughts. Taking care of our mind is significant, and stopping the toxic thoughts is just the beginning of experiencing the freedom within our minds.

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