Ever since I started my spiritual journey, it’s very clear to me that our thoughts create our reality. So as much as I can, I try to enjoy my days and stay grateful. Most times, I can easily ignore some mood spoilers and continue to look at the brighter side fully enjoying my days as they go by life.
That’s great progress, but…
There are still some special people who can manage to push my buttons. Might be that look or the words, I know I should be beyond that, but it still bothers me deep inside.
I’m at a stage where I realize that my mood should be nobody else’s business but mine. I don’t want anybody to hold any power over my emotional wellbeing.
I know that no matter what, I should let go. Even if it’s their fault, I should let go because letting go is for my benefit. I should be responsible for my own happiness.
So I try to not think about the event but my mind goes on autopilot reliving the past and worsening the experience each time. At such times, I seem to lose control of my mind. No matter what I do, I end up squarely back where I started – giving more energy to what I don’t like.
If you get caught in a similar turmoil as me, then here are some strategies. At least this is what I do when I find myself in a negative spiral, and these help me breathe freely very quickly again.
1. Take a pause. Stop thinking about the past.
Consider a scenario where somebody parked a car on a sloping road without putting the handbrake on. If it was heavy slope, the car could go downhill.
Now imagine that you saw this car coming down, and instantly, you place big rocks on the way to stop the car. You would have much better luck stopping the car when it has just started coming down versus if it was well on its way going down with high momentum.
The deeper the hurt, the more the tempo of your disapproving thoughts, and the more difficult it is to change your train of thought at that time. Instead of trying to be positive when the negativity is running full speed, try stopping your thoughts instead.
- One of the best ways to stop your thoughts is to go to sleep. As an added bonus, when you sleep, the unconscious mind takes over, and you are in a better state of mind to receive spiritual guidance.
- If somehow you can’t sleep, immerse yourself into something that requires high concentration. Personally, baking does the trick for me. As I measure all the ingredients accurately and follow the recipe properly, my mind can focus on nothing else but baking.
- Another way can be to repeat to yourself STOP or CANCEL each time you find yourself on a rapid trail. Then take a few deep breaths and carry on.
- Remind yourself that at this very moment, you can choose to be peaceful.
2. Direct your thoughts.
One reason why our mind goes on its own negative trail is that it doesn’t have a specific job to do. We usually go about our days doing stuff in autopilot mode.
For example, we drive without really thinking about where to stop or turn, etc. We have driven so many times that we drive without thinking too much about it. This gives our mind spare bandwidth to go a random spree.
So how about directing your thoughts instead?
- One useful way can be giving your mind a game to play. You could ask yourself what all you’re thankful about today. Practicing gratitude can be an immediate mood uplifter too.
- Another wonderful technique can be to imagine a scenario you would like instead. E.g. if someone called you fat and you didn’t like that, imagine yourself thinner and fitting into a beautiful dress. The more you visualize a perfect future and totally believe it, the more you will the Universe to get it to you quickly. Channel your thoughts into what you would like instead.
- If unwanted thoughts still come in the way, simply remind yourself that you’re in control. Say STOP or CANCEL, notice a few breaths and move on again.
- If your mind still keeps getting carried away, give yourself an assignment that limits uncontained wild thinking. You could listen to some audiobooks, or visit a close friend, etc, anything that considerably reigns in automatic thoughts.
If you’re like me, then meditation would be an answer to almost anything. I find that meditation helps me calm my mind and gain clarity.
When you can, take the time to immerse yourself into silence and align yourself back to your highest state. When you are in a deep meditative state, you can feel your whole positive self again. You can also use this state to ask for guidance. Just notice what comes to you when you are in true mental heaven, and most likely, that will be all that you need to know.
4. Relax. It’s all good.
Here’s a statement that I find very comforting at all times.
Everything in your life is happening for your ultimate good, even if you don’t see it yet.
Don’t believe this? Just replay the worst events in your life and think of what good they did to you.
Chances are that the hardest moments introduce you to your own power and self-worth, and what an immense blessing that is!
When you start feeling down, think about what might your lesson be with the latest challenge? How are you growing here? What good is coming your way?
5. Choose to be happy and kind no matter what.
The last strategy is very simple but still very powerful.
Simply repeat to yourself various times during the day that right now, you choose to be happy and kind.
Can you feel the magic of these words?
By saying that you choose to be happy, you’ve set the intention for good things to come your way by telling the Universe about your strong desire. By adding that you wish to be kind, you’ve called upon your own highest self to assist you.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
It’s your turn now. So tell me:
Which of these tips resonates most with you? Tell me in the comments. I read every single one, and I’d love to know!
19 responses to “Effective strategies to stop a negative chattering mind”
[…] recently wrote on stopping our negative thoughts. https://myinnerstrengths.com/effective-strategies-to-stop-a-negative-chattering-mind/ Do you struggle with this […]
For myself, taking a minute to get out of the moment helps. It starts with a check-in of “what am I feeling right now, and do I know why I am reacting this way?”.
This can be followed with “Ok, so I feel -emotion- as a reaction to -event-, how do I wish to respond next? If what’s bothering me is something I can fix quickly and kindly, let’s fix it. If not, what can I do to make this moment better for myself? Is there a way I can help myself reset or see this in a better way?”
I know that if I take a bad mood home I’ll be unfairly bringing down the mood and may even take my bad mood out on my loved ones.
Letting one bad event in my day ruin the rest of my day doesn’t make sense, and letting my mood ruin my family’s day makes even less sense.
Finding a way to still the mind, so that you can observe it in a clear, equanimous manner.
Meditate! Yes, that’s always an answer for me too.
If you don’t think other people should feel poorly about themselves, then why do you allow yourself to feel that way? You deserve better than to feel these negative emotions, but only you have the capacity to rid yourself of them. I would try reading positive affirmations with the mindset that you DO deserve better (because you certainly do). You live this life for you and literally no one else so it’s important that you self-prioritize, befriend yourself, and love yourself at full capacity despite anyone else because THAT is what you deserve. Don’t settle for less.
Lovely! Love the way you’ve said this :)
The power of taking a walk is seriously underestimated. It does miracles.
For me it’s all about changing my rhetoric. Rather than saying “this is terrible” just change it to “this isn’t the best thing in the world”. Simple changes like that keep things in perspective
Mental framing like this feels pretty important to me. Depending on the situation, the two reframings that work the best for me are:
1) thinking about the worst realistic outcome, and then imagining regular moment-by-moment life under that outcome. Trees are still beautiful. Sandwiches are still tasty. What’s so bad?
2) changing from “this is bad/unfair/etc” to “this is a challenging situation, which means it’s an awesome opportunity to grow”. Teaching myself to think “thanks for the opportunity” whenever I experience some challenge has helped me break out of a lot of negativity. Not sure how much this is based on my growth-centric personality and how much is universal.
Someone’s perception (words) about you, doesn’t say anything about you but says a lot about them. Everyone’s reality is based on their experiences and perceptions and their words shouldn’t have power on you.
Drink some water, do physical work, practice kindness and forgiveness, do yoga, find distractions. All are beneficial and some allow the unconscious to process the emotions symbolically and give you a chance to take ahold of these pathways through narrative/identity controls. Working towards an embodied flow state is the ideal, so practice this even when you’re not in a negative spiral. Work towards a nondual consciousness through mindfulness, cbt, and “knowing thyself”/studying. This works well to alleviate your associations with societal constructs, and ego attachments, but some times the narrative/identity controls necessitates the boundaries of the ego and requires you to motivate yourself internally to do the uncomfortable things externally. You basically have to find a valid motivating voice inside yourself to voice your concerns to others – all while staying mindful of the process so you can engrain the behaviour into your ego. …not an easy thing to do, which is why meditation helps in making us mindful even during the stressful moments so that we don’t go into autopilot.
Embrace the negativity. It’s ok to be negative and experience negative emotions such as anger or sadness. It’s perfectly human, enjoy the balance.
Speaking to your point about being stuck in a spiral of negative thoughts though. Too much of one thing leaves no room for anything else. I think there have been some pretty good comments here thus far. IMO taking a moment to go for a walk, or think on why you’re feeling a certain way, and then maybe thinking on “just where do thoughts come from?”.
Usually these help me out personally, take a moment, enjoy my surroundings and the time I have, throw some positive to balance this negative out. Equilibrium ftw 😉
You need to get beneath the level of thought.Thinking can’t solve thoughts,but meditation done deeply can go beyond them.You are identifying with your mental chatter and that can lead to negativity that stays with you.I recommend to not involve thinking during your meditation practice.Use a mantra instead and focus lightly on it and let it bring you deeper than the thought process.Our surface mind can cause us many problems, but our fully conscious meditative mind can solve them.You need to bask in stillness, and carry that stillness everywhere you go.
Love what you’ve written. “Our surface mind can cause us many problems, but our fully conscious meditative mind can solve them.You need to bask in stillness, and carry that stillness everywhere you go.” Yes, yes and yes
I tend to yell “stop” at myself in my head and tell myself I’m being irrational and just spiralling about something others don’t care about. It works most of the time. Otherwise I’ll try focus on my breathing and counting my breath until I’m calm.
Worst case scenario, I’ll watch videos or listen to music while doing logic puzzles (sudoku, kakuro, nonograms or similar puzzles) it forces your mind to focus on something else
Yeah, I love the STOP approach as well.
I don’t try to stop my thoughts. I engage my thoughts to see what’s going on in me. Journaling to dig into the psyche.
Thoughts are like feelings, useful for diagnostics to see what is going on.
One might make a case that attacking the thought stream is a form of self loathing.
I’m using your phrase “Right now I choose to be happy and kind” and I feel myself smiling every time I say it, just can’t help it. I’ve added the word Calm to it. Grateful thanks to you.