Thursday, October 6, 2011

How to stop obsessive negative thoughts

By Christina Chartomatsidis

We have all been taught how powerful our thoughts are and that in order to succeed we need to exert perfect mental control. This sensationalised concept has been promoted in thousands of self development books and programs.

Proponents of this concept tell us that your negative thoughts have to be eliminated as they will come true. This only intensifies our fear of uncontrolled negative thoughts.

Can I manifest every thought that I think?

People have over 4,000 thoughts during waking hours of any given day. The truth is you do not have the power to manifest every thought you think. In addition, the theory of exercising complete control of our emotions and thoughts has not been proven.

Throughout the dozens of studies published on thought control, psychologists have concluded that it is almost impossible for human beings to achieve perfect suppression of any un-wanted thoughts, images, or impulses, even for a few minutes! The truth is that no-one has 100% control of their thoughts, and those who tell you that you can are bogus.

The paradox of mental control

Dr. Daniel Wegner [1994] of Harvard University developed the “white bear” experiment to investigate our ability to control unwanted thoughts. He found that the paradox of mental control is that the harder people try to control a thought, the more difficulty they have with it.

Deliberate control or suppression of thoughts can actually cause more preoccupation with unwanted thoughts, so unwanted thoughts come back with a vengeance! A vicious cycle can develop when a person tries harder and harder to control negative thoughts.

Can my negative thoughts come true?

It is true that thinking about an action is often the first step in engaging in that action. However, it is not true that having a thought about an action always leads to that action. There are numerous factors that determine whether or not you act upon a thought.

Many in the New Age and self-development industries tell the world that thoughts have an almost immediate ability to manifest. Because of this theory, people learn to fear the consequences of failing to control their thoughts. The power of thinking is not so simple though!

So what do you do when a negative thought doesn’t stop playing in your mind?

1. Abandon beliefs that your negative thoughts have to be controlled because they’ll come true.

Begin to understand the truth that your most dreaded and negative thoughts can’t manifest simply because they entered your mind.

2. Acknowledge that you do not have the capability to control your thoughts 100%.

Don’t try to control every negative that enters your mind. Struggling with negative thoughts will require a lot of effort and energy – this will burn you out.

3. Ignore the negative thought and let it go.

The less you control the thought, the more quickly it will spontaneously fade. Don’t attach yourself to the thought. Let go. You can also give it over to God through a short prayer such as "God, I give this negative thought over to You and choose to believe the truth about who I am in Christ".

4. Challenge the negative thought that comes to your mind.

Ask yourself “What evidence is there to prove this thought 100% true?” “Is this thought a bit too extreme?” Expose the lack of logic in this thought.

We are told in Philippians 4:8 to think about whatever is true, noble, right, honourable, pure, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy and admirable.  Use Philippians 4:8 as a thought criteria, so when the thought you have doesn't measure up, reject it and keep challenging it with the truth and the Word of God.

5. Be kind to yourself.

It’s been proven that it’s harder to control your thoughts when you are in an
anxious or depressed mood and have too much stress or time pressure. Be prepared to understand that during these times it may be more difficult to keep unwanted thoughts away.

The enemy usually attacks us when we are going through wilderness times or times when we are trying to change for the better, so it's recommended you stay close to God as you are most vulnerable to deception. Also regular prayer can help empower you and give you a sense of control during a time when your thoughts are out of control.

Taking these steps is the most proven way to deal with negative thoughts. Having a general positive mental attitude should be your goal. However you are only human, so don’t place too much stress and expectation on exercising 100% mental control. This will save you a lot of distress in the long term.

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1 comment:

  1. What if you continue canceling out a negative thought with a positive but you come across an odd coincidence that could be associated with the negative thought even though you keep trying to cancel it out with its opposite? I had a negative thought keep popping in my head that kept scaring me and then I would try to replace it with a positive immediately till it became almost OCD thinking. This happened for a week until it subsided and I honestly thought I was going crazy because I kept thinking about it so much. How do you prevent negative thoughts like this from manifesting if you may be seeing coincidences tied to it? I need to make sure it's erased from my subconscious and I don't know how to do this. Any suggestions?