How to Remove Negative Thoughts? Sadhguru Jagadish Vasudev Answers
You may be surprised to learn it is normal to experience negative thoughts – in fact, they are part of our evolutionary make-up. We are programmed to scan our environment, searching for problems to fix, and that requires spending a significant amount of mental energy considering what-if or worst-case scenarios
Examine negative thoughts and worries by considering what types of cognitive distortions might be involved – in other words, determine what type of partial- or non-truth your mind might be telling you. Cognitive distortions might include:
- All-or-nothing thinking: Black-and-white statements that lack any middle ground. You are either good or bad, wrong or right, and there is no complexity or in-between.
- Overgeneralization: Taking one negative experience and making it a hard-and-fast “rule.” These thoughts often include the phrases “You always…”, “I never…”, or “Everyone…”
- Mental filtering: Filtering out all the positive elements of a situation and leaving only the negatives. Maybe you went on a fantastic date, but all you can focus on is that one awkward silence at the beginning of the night.
- Jumping to conclusions: Drawing negative conclusions without a reasonable foundation of evidence, such as assuming we know what others are thinking or what will happen in the future.
- Catastrophizing: fixating upon worst-case scenarios and blowing small problems out of proportion.
- Emotional reasoning: Believing that the way you feel right now reflects objective reality. If you feel poorly, then the current situation must be very bad.
Create a “thought diary” just for this purpose. When you have a negative thought, turn to a clean page and follow these steps:
- Write down the activating event, which could be a thought, event, or situation. An example would be: “I had a big fight with my partner before work this morning.”
- Write down the negative thoughts or beliefs that occurred during and after the activating event. Ask yourself: “What was I thinking?” “What was I saying to myself?” and “What was going through my head at the time?” An example might be: “I’ve blown it. That’s the end of the relationship. He’s tired of putting up with me and doesn’t love me anymore and he’s going to leave me.”
- Write down words describing how you feel and underline the one most associated with the activating event. For example, “Afraid, Lonely, Hurt.” With “Afraid” underlined.
- Examine what you’ve written and see if you notice any unhelpful thinking styles you might have used. For example, “Catastrophizing, jumping to conclusions, black and white thinking.”