How To Stop Negative Thoughts From Controlling Your Life

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How To Stop Negative Thoughts From Controlling Your Life

In this day and age, we all want to know how to stop negative thoughts from invading our lives so we can truly be happy.

In his book The Power Of Now, Eckhart Tolle stresses the importance of living in the present moment and avoiding thoughts of the past or future.

The Dalai Lama states clearly that compassion and altruism lead to happiness.

Compassion, the Dalai Lama explains, is a mental attitude based on the rationale that all human beings have an innate desire to be happy and to overcome suffering, coupled with a desire for others to achieve this as well.

He is quoted that, "To live in the past is to be depressed — to live in the future is to be anxious." Therefore, the only place to be in is the present. That is all we have.

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In his book The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer says that we are not our thoughts. This leaves the reader to wonder if the Descartes quote, "I think, therefore I am," may be the reverse of, "I am, therefore I think!"

The thoughts that flood our minds and create counterproductive states of well-being.

Negative thoughts can drive us to depression, anxiety, and misery.

They can — and do — become a source of stress, weighing us down with despair, self-doubt, and chronic fatigue, while depleting our self-esteem.

Often, they swallow us into a dark place that keeps us from experiencing the joy that feeds our life force, resulting in spiritual bankruptcy. If not corrected, they take over our lives and destroy our chance of happiness and serenity.

Without reparation, we become addicted to our thoughts.

Our brain and central nervous system shifts into a paradigm that dictates our behavior and controls our moods.

This eventually robs us of self-control and self-determination, impacting our relationships and too often leaving us in a state of hopelessness, apathy, and powerlessness.

So, how can we stop our thoughts from controlling our brains?

The answer is simple. The process is a bit more difficult but doable.

We need to take control of our thoughts. How? Not unlike treating any addiction, we must start with behavior modification.

We have to stop thinking!

This takes full consciousness and the ability to force ourselves to find alternative behaviors to counteract our thoughts.

Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) suggests that there is a positive intention for all behavior. It is one of the presuppositions in their thesis.

One must identify the positive intention in order to find an alternative behavior to satisfy that intention that doesn’t imbibe the negative results.

This is not as easy, since every individual can’t understand how there can be a positive intention in destructive behaviors. However, if given guidance, it is not as difficult as it may seem.

For instance, in the case of nicotine addiction, the positive intention for most smokers is that it "relaxes" them, or gives them something to do with their hands, or stops them from binge eating.

In the case of obsessive thoughts, the positive intention of ruminating on negative thoughts must be identified in order to find an alternative behavior that will satisfy the positive intention without negative outcomes.

For example, you may be ruminating about the loss of a job or relationship, obsessing over a mistake you made to cause these losses. You would need to find the positive intention of obsessing about these thoughts.

RELATED: 3 Easy Steps To Help You Overcome Your Negative Thoughts And Get Out Of Your Own Head

How can therapy replace negative thoughts and behaviors?

In therapy, I call upon that part of your unconscious that dictates the negative behavior to negotiate a deal with the creative part of the unconscious, replacing it with a positive behavior that would satisfy the same intention.

NLP defines this process as "A Six-Step Reframe." You may be wondering, what could the positive intention of ruminating about negative thoughts be?

Well, think about the idea of keeping the thoughts alive that just might keep the subject matter alive, whether it’s about business, a broken heart, or trying to understand some part of yourself that you are blaming for the loss.

Keeping the thoughts alive helps keep the subject alive, even though it may cause suffering and anguish.

If it continues over time to where it becomes chronic, then addiction is installed into the brain cells, and neurotransmitters at which time one becomes an object of contempt to themselves.

Toxic shame and guilt become the overwhelming content to fuel the addiction.

In order to break the addiction, the behavior must stop.

It takes deeper therapy to achieve the results.

Modalities such as Eye Movement Desensitization (EDMR) and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) are employed to benefit the client. There are other experiential modalities applied as well by trained therapists.

All these approaches are "experiential" as opposed to talk therapy. Being that this is a process and not an intellectual event, it needs several therapy sessions to achieve the results.

Reading about it is like reading a book on how to swim. The only way to learn how to swim is to get in the water.

RELATED: 10 Negative Thought Patterns That Ruin Perfectly Good Relationships

Joan E Childs, LCSW is a renowned psychotherapist, inspirational speaker and author of I Hate The Man I Love: A Conscious Relationship is Your Key to Success, to be released October 11, 2020. Visit her website for more resources on managing stress and anxiety or to schedule therapy via phone and online.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.