How to change my negative thoughts?

by priya
(india)

Question

i have lots of 'what if' negative thoughts in my mind. I have taken anti anxiety medication and anti depressants. It helped me to some extent. I am planning to reduce it gradually by changing my thoughts. I constantly feel what if something happens to me, what if everybody attacks me, what if they are silently making fun of me?....etc please tell me techniques to change my negative thoughts permanently. I try taking serotonin rich food, yoga etc.

Answer

Hi Priya,

It's important to understand that no-one will ever be able to prevent negative thoughts from arising in their mind. But, we can all learn not to give them so much attention, and to make a choice as to how we react to those thoughts.

It's been estimated that we all have in the region of 50,000 thoughts entering our minds everyday. The vast majority of these slip past with us barely noticing them. So we do all have the ability to dismiss thoughts. The trouble is we choose to give more attention to some thoughts than others. Take a look at unwanted thoughts if you haven't already.

Buddhism has many techniques for helping us to let go of 'disturbing emotions' and meditation is a tool that helps us to practise letting go of negativity by teaching us to return to our practice every time we notice that the mind has drifted off into thought. In this way, we exercise that ability to not give attention to unhelpful thinking, like exercising a muscle. So I really strongly recommend that you make a decision to investigate some kind of practice that will give you some tools for dealing with your thoughts. This could be meditation, yoga nidra, cognitive behavioural therapy, yoga - there are lots of options.

So many wonderful books have been written on this subject by people far wiser than me. The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle) is readily available and fundamentally about changing our thinking processes. Another really useful book is by Richard Carlson and called 'Stop Thinking, Start Living'. Whilst primarily written for people with depression it contains wisdom that applies to us all.

Bringing more balance into your life by following the lifestyle and diet tips on this site to start with, will help to settle your nervous system and because you will feel a bit more settled, you will find it easier to dismiss unhelpful thoughts. So take a good look around.

Really though, Priya, this is a massive topic which I can't fully cover here at the moment and one that affects every human to some degree. If we were all more skilled at dismissing negative or unhelpful thoughts then the world would most certainly be a happier place! The main thing is that you have recognised the problem - that is always the start of change. I wish you well on this journey you are taking, Jude

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