Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

Negative Thinking: How to Escape the Mental Minefield of Limiting and Distressing Thoughts

May 07, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 191

I have an obsessive compulsive personality type, which to cut to the chase, leaves me predisposed to extremes of negative thinking. In fact, you could describe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as the 'Mother of All' negative thinking patterns - one that can leave a sufferer trapped in a cyclone of catastrophic thinking.

Take the following example of how an obsessive compulsive mind can take one random negative thought and then elaborate on it until the world itself looks as if it will be lucky to see nightfall:

An OCD Sufferer's Guide to Thinking Negatively

'That person I've just passed coming out of the supermarket didn't look at all well. What if they've got some exotic, incurable disease - maybe Ebola? I've seen Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo - I know what that baby can do. I'm sure his eyes looked bloodshot - isn't that the first sign just before all your internal organs liquefy? What if he sneezed or coughed in there - all the food will be contaminated too. This is all irrational - I've just driven 10 miles to get here, I haven't got any food at home, I'm hungry and there's nowhere else to go. But what if he does have Ebola? What if I pick up a can of baked beans that he decided to put back on the shelf or what if I end up going to the same cashier he went to? I'll get Ebola too. I won't know for 24 hours and then I'll be consumed with the excruciating agony of various vital organs turning into pate. No I'm not going to risk it - not for beans on toast - I'd rather starve. I'll come back in 24 hours when the Ebola virus has died. But maybe I've already got it - didn't he clear his throat or something as he passed me? Yes, he did - he's given me Ebola. It's highly infectious - unless you're wearing a bright yellow quarantine suit (with no rips or tears) you're going to get it - just like poor Rene Russo. Oh God...I'm going to die...I knew I should have stayed at home!'

Extreme? Yes. Silly? Yes. Irrational? Yes. But that obsessive compulsive driven irrationality, of which I am a past master, highlights a vital facet of negative thinking: it's infectious, just like Ebola. And whilst OCD provides an extreme example of the potential of negative thinking, make no mistake we're all prone to the same psychological contagion.

Viral Thought Processes

A negative thought is in many ways just like a highly infectious virus - it's just itching to go on a destructive rampage throughout your mind - primed to spread from one thought to the next just as quickly as your synapses will fire. And in fact, just one infectious thought can replicate and mutate throughout your psyche with such ease and rapidity that even the Ebola virus (if it was conscious) would be left in dumb-struck awe.

Test it out yourself

The next time you find yourself gripped by a tirade of negative thoughts take a moment to review the process in your own mind. Notice how one solitary negative thought acted like a catalyst - how it fired off a succession of interrelated negative thoughts - one feeding off the associations of the one before.

It's a surreal process when you take the time to examine it in your own mind - one we usual miss because it happens almost automatically and in a blink of an eye. But if you do take the time to analyse it you'll find that one thought, for example 'that was a horrible thing she did to me' can quickly dredge up a Pandora's box of similar horrible experiences, not just related to that one person or event, but to negative experiences with different scenarios and involving different people throughout your life. And the negative feelings that resultantly arise from those negative thoughts - the anger, resentment, frustration, insecurity or whatever - just add to the explosive mix; spawning their own backlash of distorted negative thoughts in a downward spiral of negativity from which there often feels as if there's no escape.

Quarantine Your Thoughts

But there is an escape: By becoming aware of the separate stages of the above negativity trap you can learn to intervene. Once you appreciate that it's not all an automatic process - that you do have control - you can learn to deprive that initial negative thought of all its destructive, virulent power.

And this is the trick to doing just that:

Don't try to block a negative thought, quarantine it.

Whilst you can't stop a negative thought from entering into your head (that's a fight you just can't win), you do have the freedom to choose whether or not you're going to interact with it when it first pops into your head. And as I've found out myself from dealing with some pretty insidious negative thoughts over the years, a thought you actively choose not to engage with, simply has no place to go.

Let me restate that just to be clear: You can't stop negative thoughts bubbling into your consciousness, but you can choose how you deal with them.

It might sound like pretty obvious advice. But the fact is it's a common sense strategy we just don't tend to employ. When confronted with difficult thoughts, our natural inclination is to either try to block them out, which as you'll have found makes them worse; or alternatively, to try to rationalise them into submission; a tactic which rather counter-productively provides the very interaction that unleashes their full destructive force.

Simply being aware of a thought - but not fighting it and not trying to block it out - but instead consciously deciding not to waste mental energy thinking further about it - is something we unfortunately rarely try. And yet the effects can be profound - it can curtail a rogue thought just as effectively as a sealed quarantine room can trap a rogue microbe.

Without that initial conscious mental interaction, the potential firestorm of associated negative thoughts remains undisturbed in your subconscious - where they can do no harm. And the instigator of all that potential trouble, that initial negative thought will sooner or later, similarly lose its impetus and sulk away back into your subconscious - just like a spark that failed to ignite.

The simple truth is that thoughts are short lived. Yes, the same thought may well decide to revisit you time and time again- but each time its power will be fleeting. Deprive that initial negative thought of the fuel it needs to grow and develop - deprive it of your active attention and interaction - and you'll find, like me, that you do indeed have the ability to escape the stranglehold of persistent negative thinking.

So in a nutshell:

  • Don't fight or block a negative thought: You can't, they're automatic - it'll drive you crazy trying.
  • Appreciate the mental process at work: Initial negative thought - interaction - downward spiral of negativity. It happens quickly, but it isn't an inevitable process.
  • Step in: You have the conscious choice whether or not to engage a particular thought. If you decide not to engage it, you'll stem the spiral of negativity that would otherwise follow.
  • It takes practice, but it gets easier: Unlearning the very unhelpful habit of automatically - 'without thinking' - interacting with the catalyst thought is the hardest part of the process - but it is, take it from me, well worth the effort.

Gareth Mitchell has spent a fair few years (an understatement) grappling and tackling various personal demons. His site, Helpful Habits is there to share a few of the...err...helpful habits he's learned along the way. There you'll discover a few more handy hints for overcoming negative thoughts, along with a load of other useful strategies for dealing with a variety of limiting beliefs and perspectives.

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:

Negative Thoughts


Negative Thinking


Distressing Thoughts

Your body needs glucose in order to get energy for cell and tissue function. Without energy, the cells do not function properly and the immune system is compromised. When your blood glucose levels

By: Clifford H Woods l Health & Fitness > Diabetes l July 09, 2013 lViews: 2617

Heavy Metals - Free radicals (tissue damaging molecules that cause aging and bodily deterioration) are the result of the ever-present toxins within our environment. Heavy metals are contained in

By: Clifford H Woods l Health & Fitness > Supplements l July 09, 2013 lViews: 606

Braun shavers and trimmers are very standard brand and their new curser beard and head trimmer is big for trimming beards. This trimmer was specifically made to be able to trim down your beard and

By: Lovey Blackburn l Health & Fitness > Beauty l December 20, 2012 lViews: 459

On this website you will find latest makeup reviews and swatches from real people. You will know how makeup products look in real life, and you can also participate! Post your photos, tips and

By: l Health & Fitness > Beauty l December 09, 2012 lViews: 320

You can either seek referrals from friends and associates or search for consultants on the internet. The latter, in our opinion, would be a viable option for those pressed for time.You can either

By: Simon Liva l Health & Fitness > Diseases l December 07, 2012 lViews: 268

Healthy living is essential in today's world, to ensure one's well being. Learn how to relax and improve your mood now! Be it exercising, or indulging in one's passions and hobbies, be sure to set

By: Clarinda l Health & Fitness > Mind Body Spirit l December 02, 2012 lViews: 262

Are you one of the millions of people worldwide trying to manage stress and / or stress related high blood pressure? If so, you may find this study interesting!   A recent study indicates that high

By: Cathy Schuttlerl Health & Fitness > Emotional Freedom Tipsl June 03, 2012 lViews: 186

Simply put, stress comes from perception. Stress only exists because we perceive something to be more than we can handle.

By: Patricia Ducharmel Health & Fitness > Emotional Freedom Tipsl May 25, 2012 lViews: 159

The most common thing my clients say is, "This Body Just Isn't Me!" So I ask you the question are you lying to yourself? You say this body isn't you, yet you are making decisions from the place of

By: Michelle Hastiel Health & Fitness > Emotional Freedom Tipsl May 25, 2012 lViews: 150

Developing and having a balance between our work and our personal life is important. Our personal life is far more important than our work life. Many may disagree with that statement, but we work so

By: Trudy-Ann Ewanl Health & Fitness > Emotional Freedom Tipsl May 13, 2012 lViews: 189

Worry Stories tend to grab the attention of the mind and cause great pain and anxiety. This emotional pain can feel devastating, as if there is no way out of what is going on in the mind at that

By: Kristi Langerakl Health & Fitness > Emotional Freedom Tipsl May 07, 2012 lViews: 163

Do you sometimes feel that you are a mere circus stage act - a juggler perhaps? But instead of juggling balls and bowling pins you are juggling time? And does it seem that the number of items being

By: Annabel Fisherl Health & Fitness > Emotional Freedom Tipsl May 07, 2012 lViews: 176

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus