How to establish more productive thought patterns

How a bit of critical thinking can lift the veil of unpleasant thoughts.

Wearing yellow for happiness

She’s thinking happy thoughts (Photo Masterfile)

I have a blessed life. And when I compare even the most stressful circumstances in my life to those that plague most of the population it’s clear to me that my life is not only blessed, it’s charmed. I’ve never lost my home in a typhoon. Never faced war or abuse, or lost a loved one to the same. My biggest struggles are making the rent on time and figuring out a way to consolidate my debt.

Graced with immense privilege, a wonderful family and good health, why is it so hard to feel thankful sometimes?

Put it down to the power of negative thinking, which can make a blessing seem like a curse, and yet another bump in the road feel like a major obstacle.

It’s not necessary to combat negative thought patterns with feel-good mantras — unless that works for you. But there are some tricks to breaking the fog of anxiety that can obscure the truth of our lives.

Therapist Teresa Collett recently shared a few tips on how to establish more productive thought patterns on GoodTherapy.org.

One technique she recommends that I’ve found particularly helpful is to “assess the truth in your negative thoughts.”

She writes, “Often, our thoughts are outrageous and unbelievable, yet we react to them as if they are factual. Assessing if your thought could be true is the next step to changing negative thinking.”

When we’re troubled, or going through a rough patch, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s bugging us. When we do, the task is then to decide how much of what we’re feeling is true and what is simply the fire of intense emotion. Once we apply critical thinking to negative thinking, and we sort fact from fiction, we can start to figure out a way to feel better.

Challenging our thought patterns isn’t as easy as a mantra. But it’s as good a solution as we get. And for that, I’m feeling pretty thankful.

What techniques do you use to overcome negative thinking? Tell us in the comment section below.

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