How to Stop Your Negative Thoughts From Spiraling Out of Control
What do you do when a negative thought or series of thoughts come into your mind? How can you stop the scenario from unfolding? It is amazing how our minds start going down a negative path, picking up momentum. Then, all of a sudden, we are totally depressed, fearful, or anxious. You convince yourself this negative event is going to happen.
For instance, imagine that you are driving to work for a very important meeting. You are going faster than usual because you are running late. Your mind wanders towards panicky thoughts of being pulled over by the police, getting a ticket, arriving late to work, losing your job, getting evicted from your house, living on the street, and on and on it goes. You have spiraled downward, and it’s difficult to find your way back to reality. Perhaps the example is excessive, but many people engage in this type of thinking. Now is the time to stop, and here’s a great method to help you accomplish it.
A simple story in Joel and Michelle Levey’s book, Living in Balance, caught my eye. It involves a technique taken from a tribe in Africa, and it works wonders. They write, “From an early age, children there were trained to be mindful of their thinking. If a person became aware of a foreboding thought like, ‘Oh no, what if there is a lion hiding behind that tree waiting to eat me?’ They learned first to recognize and then release the thought by saying to themselves, ‘This is a story that doesn’t need to happen!’” That’s the technique. You must say those exact words.
If you start down a pessimistic road of thinking and the “what ifs” arise, stop, and say out loud, “That’s a story that doesn’t need to happen!” If your friends begin a similar conversation, recite the phrase to them, and encourage them to repeat it. You will feel a big difference by redirecting your thinking.
Another simple way of terminating negative thoughts is by saying, “Erase, erase.” Wave your hand in the air, side to side, as if you are actually erasing the thought from a schoolroom chalkboard. The idea is to interrupt your current state by a change of action or phrase. It really works. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Have fun staying positive and help your friends do the same!