Blog: The Spiral

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We all have negative thoughts from time to time. We sometimes have waves of negative thoughts and it can be overwhelming. A single recurring negative thought can also be very tricky to deal with. In the short term, the impact of negative thoughts can be overwhelming. In the longer-term, negative thoughts can lead to mental ill health.

I have battled with negative thoughts my whole life. For me I experience them in spirals, one negative thought sets in and leads to an avalanche of negativity. This is what I call the spiral.

I feel I am more resilient to negative thoughts now, but that is after years of practice to find coping techniques that work for me. I still get negative thoughts, regularly, but I have become more self aware of my thoughts. Self-awareness of what I’m thinking has helped me deal with negative thoughts.

I have taught myself to understand that negative thoughts do not define me. Just because we have a certain thought, it does not actually mean it is real, it is just that, a thought not a fact. I often write down negative thoughts as it helps me to get them out of my head. The process of writing them out brings me clarity. It can often show how a negative thought is irrational or has no basis in reality.  For me, writing and expression of myself is how I get through tough times, be it a spiral or a bad event. Sometimes this will manifest as creative writing to work myself through negativity.

I have also taught myself thought modification. In theory it sounds simple. You take a negative thought, either focus on thinking on it, or write it down, then you reframe it with positivity. An example might be “I do not want to go to work today,” and I would modify that to “I get to go to work today.” This change recognises that going to work is something I am grateful for, I am employed and earning a wage. It changes a negative into a positive.

The thought modification process is not easy. It can take quite a long time of practice to become effective. It won’t work for everyone, but for me it helps me through difficult times.

I’ve also boosted use of my stop mechanisms. These are distraction actions I take to break a thought cycle. It’s an action to focus on other things, focusing all your attention on it. By changing your focus, you can get a break from the thought cycle. I did this by building my self awareness of what my stop mechanisms are. If I know what they are, I am armed and ready to use them. For me these can be writing, exercise, gaming or tv/films. You probably already have stop mechanisms. Take a moment to think and acknowledge what yours are.

Finally, it can be possible to become overwhelmed by positivity. Something so good happens your thoughts are stuck. Stop mechanisms can help with this too.

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