Many people have very negative thought patterns whether they’re aware of them or not. Our conscious thoughts eventually become unconscious thought patterns whether we want them to or not. When it boils down to it, it’s about awareness and brain chemistry to solve the problem.
Conscious negative thoughts
Negative thought patters start off as conscious thoughts. Perhaps you don’t think you’re very good at math. You say to yourself, “I’m terrible at math”. Or perhaps you always think of worst-case scenarios where the worst things always might happen. Many people discourage themselves, or worry incesantly with this kind of thinking. And eventually, thoughts turn into thought patterns.
Thought patterns in many cases come down to brain chemistry. If you’re not confident, you’ve probably been that way for a long time, or perhaps a major incident changed you.
Our brains work like a mountain trail. On a mountain trail, the trail is thick at first, so when you first travel down a certain path, it’s quite difficult. But the more people who travel that trail and the more often you travel it yourself, the easier it gets. It becomes like second nature, and slowly the trail becomes more worn-in and developed. Our brains are the same way.
Brain patterns develop between a certain path of neurons. When you think a certain thought more and more, it gets easier and easier to think it. In fact, it becomes second nature. This is why memorization works. You work those brain patterns over and over again until you remember it.
Now imagine someone’s been telling you, “You’re not good enough” your entire life. Or maybe you’ve been telling yourself, “I’ll never succeed”. These thought patterns become entrenched in your way of thinking, eventually becoming unconscious. And these unconscious thoughts will sabotage you over and over again.
Unconscious negative thoughts
Unconscious thoughts are the thought patters that develop in your mind over time. Many of us have unconscious negative thoughts all the time. In many cases it’s our natural way of thinking because we’ve been doing it for so long.
When you look in the mirror, you probably have unconscious thoughts that immediately happen. Very confident people might think, “Wow, I’m so handsome”, or “I’m so beautiful”. However, the rest of us tend to get stuck with some negative thinking we’ve hammered into our own heads. Things like, “I’m fat”, “I’m ugly”, “My nose is too big (or too small or too crooked)”, “I’m losing my hair”, or “I hate myself”. These are all common thoughts for individuals to think when just seeing their own reflection.
There are many of these loops playing in our heads without us even noticing them. They’ve just been there so long that we accept them as true.
How to stop negative thoughts:
The key to stopping negative thoughts is to first start being aware of them. Listen for them. The next time you look in the mirror, pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself. Once you become aware, you’re on the right path.
Once you’re aware of your thoughts there are several techniques you can try:
1) Isolate the thoughts from yourself. See the thoughts as not your own. They’re just brain patterns that have developed over time. You can even laugh at them and see how ridiculous some of your worst-case scenarios or other thoughts might be.
2) When you encounter a negative thought, think, “STOP”. You can even imagine a giant stop sign at the same time. Doing this over time will disrupt the thought pattern that have developed.
3) Consciously think positive thoughts. It might feel unnatural to look at yourself in the mirror and think, “I’m valuable” or “I’m a good person”. However, these conscious thoughts, like memorization, become more and more natural over time. It’s a good way to change your thinking. You might eventually make these conscious thoughts positive unconscious thoughts.
Over time, if you challenge your developed thought patterns, you can change your negative thoughts. You can stop them and even alter them into positive thinking. This is a good way to deal with negative thoughts, anxiety, and panic attacks. It’s in your hands. Take control of your own mind.