My Favorite Way to Challenge Negative Thoughts, 3-Step Practice

challenge negative thinking

One way to outperform your past performance is to challenge negative thoughts that stop your progress. Easier said than done, right? It seems that sometimes all of us behave as toddlers, whining about someone else having the larger proverbial cookie than us; but, these are negative constructs. These focus on what we are lacking. The best way to begin challenging negative thoughts is through a reframe. Are you ready to enjoy your delicious life right now and tomorrow? Read on.

I’m no stranger to negative thinking. In fact, the more I learn about negative mindsets versus positive mindsets the more I see them lurking in the dark recesses of my spirit, awaiting to unveil themselves at inopportune times. But with knowledge and new habits comes a power to shine the light on these little busters and stop them in their tracks. Let’s learn to challenge negative thoughts.

The Child Mindset Versus the Adult Mindset

You may have learned in Psychology class that we can act out like children or our adult minds can soothe, challenge and encourage our inner child so we act in more adult like ways.

I’m not going into this in-depth, but consider this a primer.

In knowing this, it helps to know that our brains have different sections responsible for different physical and mental processes. For example, the amygdala is considered our reptilian brain and when it is in control, we tend to be impulsive and sometimes out of control. It’s best known for the fight or flight instinct that animals have, humans included.

The pre-frontal cortex helps with executive planning and long-term thinking and helps us think through our actions way better than the amygdala. But it doesn’t always get the limelight. It may become forgotten and neglected.

Sounds sad, right? Kinda like locking up your treasure and forgetting where you put the key.

One school of thought shows that when we live in a state of what I call the “amygdala takeover”, we may act like a child in various areas of our lives. We forget how to think creatively and critically. We may shut down and rely on instinct (such as crying or having a tantrum) to get by when we are challenged, afraid or over-stimulated.

We can switch to having more control over our instinctive reactions by calming down. For example, deep breathing helps deactivate the amygdala response so we can think clearly again.

Bu this can take some care and planning. We might not have learned these skills and we might be stuck.

Traits of a Negative Mindset

For sake of breaking things down, I’ll list out some traits of a more negative mindset that may parallel traits of an amygdala takeover. Make a note if you notice any in yourself.

Traits of a negative mindset:

  • You sometimes shutdown when challenged, afraid or over-stimulated
  • You may overly compare yourself to others and get discouraged
  • You may feel pessimistic about reaching your goals
  • You may feel stuck and have a hard time identifying your feelings
  • You don’t know how to make a plan for yourself
  • You have a hard time sticking with a plan that you’ve made for yourself because you feel unworthy, lazy or suddenly unmotivated
  • You may tend to think things aren’t fair or you never have a leg-up like everybody else
  • The activities you take part in day in and day out are not activities that bring you the most joy in life
  • Your ideal is currently unrealistic so you always feel like you are spinning your wheels

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Traits of a Positive Growth Mindset

Here are some traits that I have found to have a more positive growth mindset:

  • You feel grateful for moments that occur throughout your day
  • You realize that the things you complain about while flawed are not the end-all-be all to your daily happiness or contentment
  • While you experience setbacks, you review the situation and make action plans to move along a more ideal path
  • You have no trouble sticking to the goals you set for yourself
  • You have confidence in yourself
  • While the ends that you seek would be ideal, you are happy in the process and know that each step takes you further along than you were before
  • Obstacles to you are merely detours not dead-ends

See the difference? You may momentarily get stopped by the amygdala brain, but your executive functioning soon takes over again. The adult proceeds with clarity.

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What Does it Mean to Challenge Your Negative Thoughts?

Next we’ll dive into how to begin to challenge negative thoughts. To challenge negative thoughts means to not hold them as absolute truths. Thoughts about ourselves can change because we can change.

What are 7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Thoughts?

Ways to challenge negative thoughts:

(1) Recognize your thought patterns.

(2) Study what positive growth minded thoughts are versus negative thoughts.

(3) Consciously choose to think slightly less negatively by leaving some room for the positive.

(4) Don’t think that your negative thoughts are absolute truths. Cut them loose a bit.

(5) Associate with positive growth minded people

(6) Ask yourself what if the opposite were true?

(7) Journal

What is the 3-Step Formula I Use to Challenge Negative Thoughts?

Now, I’ll share the three-step formula I use to challenge negative thoughts.

How Do You Challenge Distorted Thinking? Confront it.

Step 1: Get a journal or a piece of paper.

Step 2: On the top left, write the negative thought. On the top right, write a reason that that thought is untrue, incorrect, or only partially true.

Step 3: Repeat this line by line until you feel something shift in you from negative (sad, desperate, despairing) to hopeful.

If you have a lot of negative thoughts affecting many areas of your life, you may need to do this exercise many times regularly. It will help activate your pre-frontal cortex brain so it can do it’s job. It is very goal oriented and when left with an open query it will continue to think about the best answer.

Keep your journal or pages as a reminder for how far you’ve come. Bathing the negative in truth waters will help grow a growth mindset and challenge negative thoughts in an ongoing manner.

#lifeskill

Tools To Help You Succeed

Why do you need tools to help you succeed? Because even the best of us can get in our own way. You might spend money making your bedroom or living room Instagram ready, but is your own spirit in order? Is there a disorganized thought process hindering your ability to live peacefully in the present moment?

That’s why I developed this trusty little planner and workbook. The Ultimate Morning Planner & Workbook is designed to keep you on track day in and day out. I use it myself to stay on track of my inner world and my progress in reaching my goals.

challenge negative thoughts

The Ultimate Morning Planner

The Ultimate Morning Planner is a printable 12 page journal. Click the link to learn more about what is included and why you shouldn’t wait to start your morning routine with ease instead of chaos or thoughtlessness (I mean, I’m pointing the finger at me, too, okay?)

Goal-Setting

Included are goal-setting pages along with pages that help you take steps towards your goals step-by-step.

Daily Support Structure

The journal and workbook is designed to help you juggle your priorities while carving out time for what is necessary. There is a template or two to help you address your mindset first thing in the morning.

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Conclusion

Don’t delay, begin to heal you mindset and accelerate your progress. Challenge negative thoughts! And remember, enjoy the process. You are marvelous.

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