How to Replace Compulsive Negative Thoughts by Noticing Them

Hmm. Negative thoughts. The problem with them is they can drain your energy without you even realizing that they’re there!

Let me start by telling you about what once happened with me. Quite some time ago, I was feeling very low and frustrated.

I didn’t know what “negative thoughts” and all that meant– but I wanted to do something about my ‘thoughts’. I mean, why was I always feeling low?

So I sat down, and decided to record my thoughts for half an hour. Probably, my thoughts were the culprit?

My Negative Self Talk

I don’t remember everything but here are some of the negative thoughts I wrote down that day:

1)Do I look artificial to X? Am I artificial before her? Does that mean I am a bad person?

2)I am so sad these days. I used to be so happy then. I am becoming sadder.

3)I have no fixed routine whatsoever in my life – none at all.

4)I have not replied to Y’s mail. There is so much to do. The assignment too. And I am doing nothing.

5) Will Z think I am neglecting him? Z doesn’t liek me.

6) I waste my time in idle chatter all day. I keep doing that. Time is running out.

7) Does W even care for me? No one does.

8) How confident Sania Mirza looks in this newspaper – and she has achieved so much! What am I doing? I am wasting my life

9) How muscular Shahrukh Khan looks in this advertisement. My tummy bulges out. Isn’t it terrible?

10) Am I a good friend at all? Maybe I suck at friendship.

Do you see that ALL of my dominant thoughts were negative thoughts? All were “life sucks”, “what will he think”, “I will fail” thoughts? And since I thought these and similar thoughts all day, no wonder then that my life sucked.

I decided to do something about it.

I took each thought and replaced it with a counter thought.

More or less like this (just a rough sketch):

Negative Thoughts Table

I repeated these counter-thoughts many, many times a day when the previous negative self-talk took over.

Interestingly, I felt better over the next few days! I went through this activity many more times. People suddenly started saying my hair was nice – the same hair I thought was crappy.I suddenly started feeling I rocked! I suddenly started feeling W cared for me a lot!

How to Change Your Thoughts and
Negative Self Talk

I think most of the time we are NOT aware of our perilous thoughts. I mean, we feel like we know what we think. But we don’t! I might be thinking – “I suck” all day and not even notice it! That is why many of us might be thinking a lot of negative thoughts. And if we keep thinking them day after day, we feel sort of crappy.

So take out a notebook, and for half an hour – write down whatever you are thinking. Anything. If you are thinking – “I want to scratch my arm”, write that down too. Everything.

After the half hour is up – look at your thoughts. These are YOUR thoughts. They are practical evidence of what you are thinking. You might be surprised and say – did I think this?

Now list out the dominant 4-5 perilous thoughts out of these thoughts you wrote in half an hour.

Like my own thoughts were – “I am always wasting time”, “I am not a good friend”, and “W doesn’t care for me at all.”

Next to each of these thoughts – write down what you TRULY want to feel about that thought like me writing – “My hair is unique and awesome see!” instead of “My hair is so crappy”.

Now next time whenever, you think those negative thoughts again, try to be aware and correct those thoughts with these new thoughts. It seems odd, all this – but come on, you are actually thinking all that crap all day! You don’t want to anymore right?

This thought-writing exercise is pretty effort consuming. I mean, who wants to write thoughts down and observe them for half an hour. 😉

But do it, at least once. There might be sucking thought patterns which might be making you feel bad all the time.

Detect your thoughts. Be surprised. Then change them!