Negative Thoughts

Topic for Today - Negative Thoughts

Last week we talked about self compassion and being kind to ourselves.  Taking time to make sure we stay ok while managing this very difficult situation.

It was quite light touch, with just a few pointers to things that might help and that you could try.

Well, we have been contacted by a Peer who works within Hartlepool Mind suggesting we give a little more attention to the issue of negative thoughts that can really get a grip at times. Thoughts or images that just seem to go around and round in your head, make you feel bad, and yet you can’t seem to stop them.  It can feel like they control you, and stop you from being able to get on with the rest of your day.

So what can we suggest to try and help?

Its Normal

Firstly - try not to worry about the fact that you are worrying or having these negative thoughts. 

We can quickly develop a horrible cycle of worrying about worrying, and ending up feeling even worse.  

These thoughts are largely normal, we see, hear or experience something, it scares or upsets us, we start to focus on it, the more we focus on it, the more we reinforce the memory, the more it pops up, and so on…


So first things first - if that first bit happens, remembering, seeing or hearing something horrid, try to distract yourself quickly.  Take your mind somewhere else, somewhere more positive.  This can avoid getting caught in a dark cloud.

It’s a good idea to have something prepared for this situation while you are relaxed and calm - if this does happen I am going to think about seeing my kids playing at the seaside when they were little, what meals I am going to cook over the next few days, feeding the birds in my garden, what I am writing about in my letter to my sister.  Or you can do something to distract yourself - get up and go and make a cup of tea, take the dog for a walk, pop some washing on - anything rather than get into deep thought and worry.

Change the record!

As a positive response to negative thinking can we also encourage you to start a “positive talking” habit in your life. This can be done at a regular time every day, or as an way of challenging negativity.  Simple statements to reinforce all the good things about you and your life can quickly support a more positive way of being (see our blog on building optimism).  Statement like: I am a kind and positive person able to do great things and help other people

You can’t get this wrong as long as it is positive and it feels right for you

Then when the dark thoughts arrive you can try to chance them away with reinforcing what’s good!

Breaking a Strong Habit

If the thoughts are regular and persistent.  Sometimes the negative thinking has already got hold and is forming a pattern in your mind. This can be harder to break but definitely, can be done.  This one requires some work though.  This process is often called “rumination” the same negative thoughts going round and round in your mind.  To break the negative habit we need to commit to a new habit for quite a while, to make a new way of being and to get rid of the old one.

Why not watch Guy Winch talk about an aspect of this - we think it is really helpful to give suggestions for breaking out of negative thinking patterns

Move, Act, Distract

Next, perhaps it is too late, you are right in the middle of dark cloud of negative thinking.  What can you do now?

Well the first thing is to simply register where you are, “I am now in a negative place, I am distressed and thinking all kinds of difficult things, this means it is now hard for me to see the world as it really is.  I am instead seeing a negative version and this will change.  Try to relax and take your mind to something else, physical movement can help.  Try talking to someone, maybe about how you are feeling but perhaps about something else in the hope that the distress will decrease and you will feel better able to move on.

Time to Talk

If this sort of thinking happens a lot and is impacting your life regularly you might want to think about what may be underneath this way of thinking, are you perhaps responding to something else in your life or something that has happened to you.  If this is the case then contact us and we can arrange for you to speak with someone who may be able to help you resolve some on-going issues, that might reduce or stop this happening.

We can discuss redefining and reframing tools to support you being able to change negative thinking, to be more manageable or even to go away.

When it’s Scary

If the feelings and negative thinking are overwhelming you and you start to be concerned for your safety please contact a friend who will understand, us, the Samaritans or if frightened you are about to harm yourself, or anyone else, please call 999 or go direct to your nearest accident and emergency department

Ok, well those are our thoughts for today, take care, stay safe, well, kind, creative and connected

Don’t go out if we don’t absolutely need to (i.e. for food basics), keep a safe distance (2 meters) from the other people around us.  Keep smiling, waving and talking.  Wash hands and avoid touching faces when out and about. 

Anything we can do to stop and slow the virus is keeping more of us safe and literally saving lives. 

If you have symptoms, stay inside and contact 111 or the website to get more advice.

Look forward to speaking again tomorrow when we will be sharing an update on the services available through Mind!

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