It’s imperative for good mental health that you control your thoughts instead of allowing them to control you. Unfortunately, some people are natural over-thinkers, experts at rumination. This means their mind will gladly grab onto a pessimistic thought, especially when they’re feeling anxious or annoyed. Doing so feels constructive and protective but it’ll drive you crazy as these thoughts spiral out of control.
Why What You Think Really Does Matter
The more your mind thinks certain things, the more likely it is to continue thinking them again in the future. This is because recurrent negative thoughts build circuits in your brain. Eventually, you won’t be able to stop unwanted thoughts from popping into your head at random times. When this happens, you’ll become distracted from what’s going on in the present moment and what’s going on in the present moment will be negatively impacted by your negative thoughts. When this happens, you’ll start to worry about the thing that’s been negatively impacted – it’s a perpetual cycle that results in you continually acting distracted because of these thoughts.
Retake Control of Your Mind
As time passes you may develop a significant psychological disorder (e.g. generalized anxiety disorder, OCD) if you don’t retake control of your mind. You must stop worrying, ruminating, and stewing. It’s up to you to cultivate the awareness of these things happening and stop them from continually happening in your head. There’s a three-step process to this:
- Examine your thought life. Even things that you frequently think aren’t necessarily true. Nevertheless, if you’ve suffered from stress, anxiety, or depression in the past your brain may be hardwired for these maladaptive thought patterns (e.g. “I’m a failure,” “I can’t do anything right,” “Nobody likes me”). Once you take notice of one of these thoughts forming in your head, you must immediately stop and question whether it’s worth allowing it to take up residency there. If it’s not, then you must do your best to prove the thought wrong.
- To prove your thoughts wrong you must ask yourself the right questions. These questions include “Is this really true?” “Is there evidence that it isn’t true?” “What happens if I let this thought live on in my head?” “Is there something healthier I can think about instead?”
- Once you find the true answers to your questions, it’s time to replace your “stinking thinking” with the truth. Doing so will weaken the lies and strengthen your brain. To do this you must replace your negative thought patterns with truth, which is where the power is. Sometimes the negative thought will pertain to an urgent issue that you should step back and problem solve immediately so you can stop worrying about it.
Get the Help You Need
Sometimes you simply can’t change your thinking on your own. It’s at these times that you should get help from the Advantage Mental Health Center. This is especially true when recurrent thoughts cause you to feel a lot of distress, negatively impact your relationships, or interfere with your ability to function each day.
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