How to monitor your thoughts and defeat negative thinking

Engaging in various activities a big help

Thirty years ago, I read a sentence in Louise Hay’s book ‘You Can Heal Yourself’ that seems fitting to quote here. The sentence read “you are the only thinker in your mind.” Immediately, when I read this sentence my internal dialogue said “that is power.” I realized in a flash how powerful my thoughts are and that no one can make me think a thought, my thoughts are my thoughts, whoa.

But first, please be advised if you have persistent negative self-defeating thoughts for a long period of time (more than two weeks), I advise you to speak with a psychologist and ask if you need an anti-depressant medication or maybe hospitalization. Pathological Depression has to be treated medically before the individual can learn skills to monitor his/her thoughts. In Pathological Depression, the neurotransmitter serotonin is too low. Once the serotonin becomes significantly lower than normal levels it is very difficult to raise it to normal levels without medical treatment.

So now, let us look at how we can monitor our thoughts, stop negative thinking and stop creating emotional tornadoes in non-pathological depressed conditions. The serotonin may drop a little so a person feels down, discouraged and generally fed up with his/her situation. Perhaps feeling this way about work, or a relationship.

The difference is that this person can motivate herself/himself to feel better by engaging in one or more of these activities: using a treadmill/trampoline; going for a brisk walk; sports/gardening; singing, dancing; playing a musical instrument; laughing or even crying; Tai Chi/yoga; a heart-to-heart sharing with a friend; deep concentrated breathing.

Any physical or mental activity (playing board games, doing puzzles, reading) will increase serotonin level as well as the endorphins which will make us feel more positive and energized.

However, we cannot stay on a treadmill or walk briskly 24/7 so if this is the only activity on the above list of activities that we engage in know that the serotonin level decreases shortly after these activities. Hence, in order to maintain positive energy we need to have a variety of different activities.

Again, as I have stressed in other articles our activities must be consistent to be beneficial to our physical and mental health. Being consistent means being self-disciplined and mindful of the choices we are making for ourselves. Remember “It is about Me.” Nobody can do it for me. If I do not choose to engage in a few of the above activities in this list then I run the risk of having physical and mental problems in my life.

The drawing below shows how we can stop a negative internal dialogue from spiraling me down.

The first step in this process is to be aware of the voice inside my head (my internal dialogue). Then, decide if it is a positive or negative message. Then, reflect on how I want to deal with this message.

A tornado does not create havoc until it touches down. So too, I do not beat up on myself, feel less about myself, or act out in a destructive manner until after I have rehearsed the negative thoughts in my mind. The moment I become conscious of my negative thoughts and emotions spiraling me downwards I can tell myself to stop. If it is appropriate to shout STOP out loud I suggest you also call yourself by name, Kathleen, STOP.

Calling your name really gets your full attention. As soon as I stop the negative thoughts then my thoughts will move upwards in a positive direction. This is using my Stop Spiraling Down Method (SSDM) effectively. Hope this works as well for you as it has for me.

(Kathleen Kelly is a Chemainus resident and author of the book ‘The Tornadoes We Create.’)

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