Anyone dealing with anxiety or just life in general has probably experienced negative or intrusive thoughts, that attack your self worth, your motivation, and anything that brings you joy. These thoughts are the worst! They feel so true that we tend to believe them.
They can come in many forms from self-doubt to guilt, or shame. None of these feelings are conducive to any of your goals or your self esteem, yet, because we think them, we internally validate them.
Just like your imagination as a child allowed you to create all your invisible friends and imaginary worlds, our imagination still works today just sometimes unwillingly. Unfortunately, in our adult days, our imagination can sometimes try to create negative scenarios and feelings.
But the thing is, YOUR THOUGHTS ARE NOT REAL! They do not define you.
We can have a million thoughts fly into our head throughout the day, some of them pass through like sand between our fingers, and some tend to get stuck.
The ones that get stuck are typically the ones that make us feel the worse.
Thoughts of failure, embarrassment, anger, and the list goes on..... they aren't real, and you can change them. You can choose what thoughts you want to be in your head, and allow the others to become white noise, no matter how real they feel.
Here's a strategy to help you the next time one of your negative thoughts tries to latch itself on your sub-conscious.
1. Acknowledge the thought's presence
Allow yourself to think about the thought for a moment, don't try to block it because it will just keep trying to break through whatever wall you put up. Acknowledge that the thought exists in your mind.
2. Sit with the thought
Sit with this thought in your mind. Don't judge it. Just allow it to be there for a moment knowing that it is just a thought at this moment and there's not necessarily any truth to it. Again, don't judge it, or assign it a meaning, and don't question it's value/validity. Just sit with it. Say it out loud or write it in a journal even. Believe it or not, this practice actually takes away any power this thought may hold over you.
Decide an alternative thought that you want in your head that opposes the current negative thought that you do not want. This is your chosen thought! Put as much detail and effort into this thought as you can. Write this thought down, and make it as long as you want, but at least two lines/sentences. Read this thought. Sit with this thought. This is a thought you chose willingly and consciously to have, and therefor carries your power. That other thought is a grain of sand that just fell through your fingers, a brief passing in your un-conscious (this word gives it even less meaning to me than sub-conscious) mind like that random dream of the big, purple elephant drinking tea you had the other night.
Practice this often. Use this strategy the next time an intrusive thought tries to carry you away.
And remember, our minds are full of images, words, thoughts that can have absolutely no meaning.