18 Jul Letting Go of Negative Thoughts by Anna McClelland, LMFT
Thoughts… we have like a million of them a day and some of them we dismiss and some we cling to for dear life… as long as they support our story. You know the story about how we’re not good enough, smart enough or are ineffectual. Rarely do I get a client that comes into my office that likes to attach to thoughts that support good feelings and emotions. Why do we cling so desperately to thoughts that support such a tragic story? …Well, each of us has a unique and personal history that helped create those automatic thoughts and feelings- so, let’s focus on what can help to create a different relationship to our thoughts, so our feelings and emotions can start to get the memo that our negative thoughts aren’t the truth! Cultivating mindfulness is one of the most effective ways to free ourselves of negative emotions and thoughts
Look at your thoughts, not from your thoughts. Start to gain awareness and perspective by seeing your thoughts as mental events that come and go instead of taking them literally. Stay in a state of curiosity about your thoughts and the feelings they trigger. As feelings arise, notice them without resistance and allow them to wash over you. Ask yourself what comes up, fear? Sadness? Don’t judge or try to shut the emotions down- Resistance creates suffering. Ask yourself if this thought or response is about the present or the past.
Cultivating the tool of present moment (being in the here and now) takes us out of dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. Learning awareness helps us get out of auto pilot so we are able to make clearer and better choices. There are many ways to cultivate mindfulness and awareness. You can either find a meditation group to support a formal practice, meditate on your own (ideally 20 minutes a day) or start an informal awareness practice by integrating intentionality into your daily routine. There are many resources (books, groups & centers- google mindfulness and mediation in your area) out there to help support you find ways to incorporate these practices.