Recognise Your Negative Thinking
When our negative thinking goes unrecognised it causes us all sorts of pain, stress and unhappiness. Here’s one version of what it can be like – and how recognition can begin to make a world of difference.
“So… I wanted to fight my negative thoughts. But half the time I didn’t know I’d had them until it was too late. My Horrible Inner Critic was nibbling away at my self-belief, and I didn’t even know it.
Sometimes it could have a field day in my head – racing around in circles, throwing spears of anger or big sticky globs of confusion and hesitancy. Or building walls of resentment and prisons of fearfulness.
And still I didn’t recognise what was going on. I didn’t see the negative thinking as it was happening.
Even though I knew there were tools and techniques that really worked, I missed the opportunities to make them work by using them at the right time.
How could I stop the flow of negative, unhelpful thinking? How could I change it?
I began to practise recognising when my thinking wasn’t helpful. It took a bit of work and I still miss some negative thoughts (who doesn’t?). But most times now I can recognise them – and once I recognise them, I can change them. Because of that, they don’t come so often, and when they do come, they don’t cause so many problems.
Now, those spears of anger fall short or bounce off. The sticky globs of confusion are washed away by clear and productive thinking. The walls of resentment are nothing but flimsy paper – and the prison bars of fear are melted by the heat of alternative positive thoughts.
We can learn to recognise our negative thoughts – and then learn simple tools to quieten and weaken them, and finally, to replace them with more helpful, joyful positive mindset. “
If you’ve read earlier posts, you’ll already have a helpful picture of your Horrible Inner Critic, and you will also have some powerful tools at the ready. However, because our HICs are sneaky little blighters, we often fall victim to their damaging messages without ever realising it.
Unmasking your Horrible Inner Critic
Identifying the thought is like unmasking your Horrible Inner Critic, and they don’t like it. Recognition alone can be disarming – do it with humour and mischief in your voice and it’s even more powerful.
And recognition has to happen no matter what tools you wish to use. If you aren’t consciously aware of the negative thoughts in the first place – either because they sneak in under the radar or because you’re finding it hard to tell whether this particular thought is actually a negative thought or not – if you don’t have that awareness – then you’re really not going to be able to change anything.
Practice and Vigilance
Awareness and good judgement are essential. This takes practice and vigilance. You will get it wrong from time to time, but you’ll get better with practice. Don’t worry about gaining ‘perfect control’ of your HIC because that just leads to frustration (and frustration leads to more negative thoughts)! Instead, it’s best to accept that there will always be occasional, stray negative thoughts popping into your head. That’s fine. Just don’t get spooked by them and gift them more power than they have.
First Step – Recognise Obvious Negative Thinking
As a first step, work to recognise your more obvious negative thoughts – the ones that your Horrible Inner Critic pushes out every chance it gets. Learn to smile at these thoughts and then counter them with a positive thought of your own. Recognise them for what they are – just thoughts. They’re not facts and they’re not even accurate observations. They’re simply unhelpful soundbites generated by a small part of your mind that doesn’t understand your potential to grow and to succeed. You don’t have to believe negative thinking – so choose not to. Recognise the thoughts, smile at them, dismiss them – it’s enough to set you on your journey to the joy of a positive mindset.