Find the power to battle thoughts that constantly bring you down.
Negative thoughts are not easy to deal with but you don't have to hide or dismiss painful emotions or feel guilty for being "negative". It's not about perpetuating a false positive facade. Everyone will experience situations that are unpleasant. These need to be felt and dealt with openly and honestly. Toxic positivity leads you to avoid difficult emotions and situations which will, in turn, cause more harm. However, if you confront your difficult emotions and look deeper it actually helps you grow as a person.
But what about negative thoughts that seem disturbing? Such intrusive thoughts can sometimes be worrisome. Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that around 6 million Americans experience intrusive thoughts. The ADAA defines intrusive thoughts as “stuck thoughts that cause great distress.” Such thoughts can be violent, socially unacceptable, or just out of character. Do you wonder why you have similar situations playing in your head? What do you do when you're constantly bogged down by persistent pessimism and negativity?
Here are 3 ways to deal with negative thoughts.
1. Negativity is normal
Recognize that feeling negative about life is a normal experience. Many people go through this. Even people who seem to have it all: money, fame, big families, and friends circles. Intrusive thoughts are normal. Some examples include doubting your partner's intentions while they haven't given you any reason to. Being annoyed with a friend or coworker over some of their habits. Exhausted moms might have momentary feelings of not wanting to have had a baby. You may deeply care about people but still have negative thoughts about them. Acknowledge that there is nothing "wrong" with you for having these thoughts. Let go of the shame and guilt. Every once in a while people have such thoughts. These feelings can be the result of a temporary situation. But when it is a persistent feeling it's probably something that needs to be addressed. Ask yourself what triggers the negativity and what is your negativity telling you about yourself?
2. Thoughts are just thoughts
Realize that thoughts don't necessarily lead to action. Even if you constantly think about disturbing thoughts over and over again, it doesn't necessarily mean you want to act on it, consciously or unconsciously. Dr. Juli Fraga, a licensed psychologist based in San Francisco, who works with many patients that experience intrusive thoughts and told Healthline, “Most often, I try to help them understand the nature of the thought and the feeling it may represent. I also try to use ‘grounding’ statements to see if the worry settles down. If it does not, it’s a potential sign of anxiety."
3. When to seek help
Most of the time intrusive thoughts are normal. But you must seek help immediately if the thoughts feel more than that. In cases of postpartum depression or suicidal thoughts, and others where you feel you may be a danger to yourself or others, please ask for the help of a professional as soon as possible. To understand the difference Fraga explains that a thought crosses the line, “When someone can’t discern between a ‘thought’ and an ‘action,’ and when the thoughts interfere with one’s ability to function at home, work, and in personal relationships.” Speak with a psychologist or psychiatrist can perhaps help understand the distinction more clearly. So don't hesitate to reach out.
If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)