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The No.1 secret to overcoming negative automatic thoughts

For many people, negative automatic thoughts (NAT's) are like a freight train running through their head 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week.

They seem to have been there since time began. Sometimes NAT's show up as self-critical thoughts.

Other times they take the form of "what if" scenarios. Still, others appear as "should" statements. No matter their form, all NAT's interfere with our ability to enjoy our lives and perform at our best.

In this article, you're going to learn the number one secret to overcoming negative automatic thoughts and creating a much more positive mindset.

But first...

What's a negative automatic thought?

A negative automatic thought (NAT) is a thought that's triggered by any situation. It happens without your conscious awareness, and it has a bad impact on your mood and your day.

NAT's create a lot of stress and drain you of a lot of your energy. Hence, overcoming negative automatic thoughts will give you confidence in yourself, leading to a more positive and happy lifestyle.

If you haven't yet watched my tutorial on the bonjela technique, which shows you how to stop persistent and distressing negative thoughts in under 10 mins, go to stresstherapist.net/bonjela, And you can get access to it one hundred per cent for free.

Now think about how you feel when encountering a stressful situation or challenge. You may think about what happened or imagine what will happen next. You may even feel upset or anxious. 

But there's another part of the brain working on an entirely different level.

Why you feel powerless to NAT's

It receives information, compares it to memories and feelings from the past, and interprets it to form judgments.

This other part of the brain takes your thoughts, images and feelings and makes sense of them. If you don't like what it thinks, it can lead to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or fear.

That other part of the brain is the amygdala. It works like a judge in a courtroom.

It works like a judge, you know, judges in cultures.

And when your amygdala judges a situation as negative. It automatically triggers the alarm in your system. It heightens your stress levels and creates a loop of more negative automatic thoughts until your brain feels like you are no longer at risk. 

So it keeps triggering you to feel Threatened until it senses that the threat has been abated.

But there's a problem here. And the problem is that if you've been repeating these NAT's over for years... The chances are that this has now become a habit. 

And this is why they call these types of thoughts negative automatic thoughts. The word automatic suggests that the thought is now happening entirely out of your conscious awareness. Your thoughts get triggered even if you don't want them to be triggered. 

Meaning your thoughts have moved away from your ability to manage them into a subconscious place where you have less power to control them. 

And that's what creates the problem. 

The No. 1 secret to overcoming negative automatic thoughts

This brings me to the one secret to overcoming negative automatic thoughts, which I promised to share.

You see, because your thoughts have become automatic through repeated behaviours that have formed thinking habits... We've now got to turn things around to create another habit and build this into your lifestyle. 

This new habit is a different set of behaviours and thinking patterns that help to counteract negative thoughts. 

Why am I hammering on the word "habits"?

In my experience working with people, I have found that many people fall into a consistent trap. And the trap is that they expect that if they practice a strategy to stop the negative thoughts, that strategy should be good enough to overcome negative thinking problems for good. 

So they practice the strategy... the strategy stops the thoughts, but then the negative thoughts keep coming back. And so they get frustrated thinking...

"What's the point of practising all of this when my negative thoughts are always going to come back?

But that is the trap!

The problem with this thinking is that you expect the strategy to give you a permanent outcome by just practising the technique one.

The correct way to approach this is to accept that you must repeatedly practise the technique until it becomes a habit.

Once it becomes a habit, it becomes effortless to stop negative automatic thoughts. 

When that happens, your ability to stop negative thoughts becomes more permanent and more sustainable.

So now that you know that the best way to overcome NAT's is to turn thought-stopping strategies into habits...

What thought-stopping strategies are available for you to learn?

Next, I will reveal five different strategies that you can turn into habits to experience a lasting sense of peace and calm in your mind.

1. Be aware of negative automatic thoughts:

There is no way to eliminate negative thoughts if you are unaware that they are happening. 

Often, most people get caught in the trap of negative thinking and get pushed into the spiral of negative emotions without realising how the negative stance started.

But when you're fully aware of when your negative thoughts start, they become a lot easier to stop.

2. Rehearse positive thoughts:

Positive thinking has become a bit of a cliché.

But sadly, most people practise positive thinking without turning this practice into a habit. 

You've got to turn that positive thinking into a habit. That's when it becomes sustainable.

3. Change the way you respond to the situation:  ​

In the moment, you may feel helpless or hopeless, but by changing your approach to the situation, you can choose to act differently and reduce the negative thought's impact on you in that moment.

4. Use distraction:

Use other tasks, thoughts or images that take your mind off the stressful situation. But remember to do these things repeatedly until they become inbuilt habitually.

5. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones:

Rehearsing positive thoughts is a beneficial strategy. But what if you rehearse the positive thoughts and don't replace them whenever you have a negative thought? 

Doing this would mean you still get emotionally buried by the negative thoughts. This means all your efforts to rehearse positive thoughts would have become useless.

Essentially,  acknowledging and reframing the negative thoughts to turn them into positive, powerful, automatic thoughts... and getting that process into a habit will work wonders in achieving your goal of being in a positive mindset more frequently.

Finally

Your biggest asset to overcoming depression & anxiety

I want to wrap up by highlighting this profound truth about life. 

You see, regardless of what problem you are trying to resolve, there's always a small set of actions that you can take to get the most significant amount of results. 

These are the pillars to your success.

And in your efforts to overcome problems like depression and anxiety, gaining mastery over your negative automatic thoughts is that one pillar that gives you a monumental push towards cancelling out problems with anxiety and depression for life.

Book a consultation with Adewale

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa
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