How To Overcome Negative Thoughts - How To Win a Man's Heart

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September 17, 2014

How To Overcome Negative Thoughts

Q. A common problem our subscribers face is having the tendency to worry about the future and in the process miss out on the present. Examples would be- “Is he the one for me?”, “Is this going to work out?”. “Is he going to betray me?” etc. What are some practical ways to counter these negative thoughts?

It is very normal for us as humans to worry about the future. This is a trait that only humans seem to have and probably comes from our need for survival. We often fear the unknown and think about the future, wondering what’s going to happen, and worry about everything from relationships, job performance, health, to our children.

What happens in our brain when we worry about the future? We typically run a scenario through our head about what’s going to happen. We experience a lot of worry/negative thoughts. If we are worried then our brain changes and triggers a cascade of events in our body as if the thing we are worrying about is actually happening in the present. In other words, when we worry, our body responds with the neurochemicals and hormones of stress. And we all know that is not good for us.

An example might be that you just met someone and went on a first date. When you get home you start obsessing about whether they liked you and whether or not they will call you. You start experiencing all the symptoms of stress, both negative and positive. What if he doesn’t call? Will I ever meet anyone to build a healthy relationship with? What if I am single forever? Or, wow, I am so excited about him or her. I think it would be wonderful to spend my life with them (even though you hardly know them). All of your attention goes to this worry and you have trouble concentrating at work, make silly mistakes, miss what someone just said to you or miss your highway exit.

For the most part there is no reliable way to predict the future. Spending all your time worrying about it prevents you from being totally present and enjoying the ‘now’ moments. Where your attention goes your energy goes. So worrying about the future takes up energy you might be directing at what’s right in front of you. And then you miss what’s going on right in front of you. If you have ever driven someplace and realized when you got where you were going that you have no memory of the landmarks you must have driven by, you know what I am talking about.

“You are so anxious about the future that you do not enjoy the present. You therefore do not live in the present or the future. You live as if you are never going to die, and then die having never really lived.” Dalai Lama

There are a number of mindfulness skills that help us stay focused on the present. The first calms our worry and is called a relaxation breath and involves simply breathing in through your nose to the count of 4 and out through your mouth to the count of 8. Exhaling twice as long as you inhale effectively lowers the stress response. Doing this whenever you start worrying about the future and bringing your attention to your breath can pull you back into the present moment and slow down the worry.

Another skill is to change the channel. Think about something you find calming and then imagine that when you are worrying about the future you are watching your worry channel. Then practice imagining that you are changing the channel to your calm channel. Notice how you feel when you watch your calm channel versus your worry channel.

Focusing on the surroundings around you can be another great way to bring your attention back to the present moment. Just bring your attention to everything in the space around you whether inside or outside. Bringing your attention to your physical body is another way to bring you attention back to the present. This can be done by paying attention to your breath or doing a quick body scan. Being mindful of sound, touch, smell, and taste also bring your attention back to the present.

Using a regular mindfulness meditation practice can also help you train your brain to stay more present. Pick something you want to pay attention to and then every time you realize your mind has wandered simply return your attention to your intended target of attention. Do this over and over again.

If you want something to come into your life that you don’t currently have, get quiet, enter the stillness and imagine everything about how you will feel when you have it. For example, you could do this to find the love partner of your dreams. Close your eyes, go within, calm your busy mind, and imagine how you would feel if that person was in your life. Really feel it. Then stop worrying about it. Pay attention to what’s going on around you at the moment. Practice this often and see what shows up.

 About Debra Burdick

Debra Burdick

Debra Burdick, LCSW, BCN, also known as ‘The Brain Lady’, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a board certified Neurofeedback practitioner. She is a national speaker and author and has provided outpatient psychotherapy and Mindfulness skills to her clients since 1990. She added Neurofeedback to her psychotherapy practice in 1999.

Debra specializes in ADHD, depression, anxiety, stress, sleep, cognitive function, relationships, mindfulness, and traumatic brain injury.

To know more about Debra, visit her website www.thebrainlady.com.

To know more about her products, visit www.thebrainlady.com/products/




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