Most of us have been there. We cannot get rid of a negative thoughts or a worrying nagging in our head. It goes around and around and seems to eat up way too much of our time and energy.
Maybe the thoughts are about ourselves, our self-doubt. That we are not good enough or not as good as others. We question everything we do and worry that people think badly of us or. Or, even worse, talk about us behind our backs.
We might feel ‘why me?’ ‘What have I done to deserve this, I can’t take it anymore.’
Maybe we worry about our life and our family. I support parents who often struggle with regular worrying thoughts about their kid’s challenges, i.e. special needs, emotional, social or academic challenges.
It can be our job, relationships, finance, housing and much more. But the bottom line is that we spend too much time having negative thoughts and worries.
Maybe we worry and think to much about the past. Who did what and why. Or fear the future: what will happen to me, my kids, my family, my job etc.
The problem is that we forget to enjoy and think about the here and now. We miss opportunities to enjoy small moments in our life with our kids – we are so busy placing all our focus on the negative thoughts and worries in our life!
This constant thinking about negative things or worrying about what might or might not happen can be exhausting. We often find that we cannot sleep. Or don’t have the energy to do the things we like doing, be the parent we want to be, or the friend, partner or employee that we need to be. We don’t feel as productive and effective as we know we should. Our thoughts are controlling how we live our lives!
And that is the thing. It is how much time we choose to spend on these thoughts that causes them to develop into anxiety, depression, sadness and to take over our lives. We overthink and worry so much that we feed our negativity by giving it our full focus.
So, over-thinking keeps these negative thoughts alive; the more we think about it the bigger a problem gets.
So why is it that we might spend 4 hours instead of 30 minutes a day on our negative thoughts? Well, we might think that by thinking about it we can control it – do something about it – find a solution. But we usually just go around in circles, not actually finding a solution just making it bigger by feeding it!
So, what can we do now that we know that it is how much time we allow these thoughts to take up in our life that makes them grow? We cannot just stop thinking and get rid of them.
The solution lies in awareness and choice. Choice is freedom. First, we need to stop fighting the thoughts – step into them and give them a name. What is it that worries you, makes you think negatively? ‘I am worried because my child is having severe anger issues’….
Then it is all about how much time we choose to spend on these thoughts. So, we need to control our time and what we do with it.
“Doing nothing is doing everything” – Adrian Wells
He talks about ‘lazy therapy’, where we allow ourselves to do less to achieve more.
And we can use it here when we are trying to control the time we spend on our negative thoughts. In order to give our negative thoughts a rest we need to be able to control them.
I was supporting a mum who worried about her daughter all the time. She decided to control the time and every time the feeling pop into her mind she told her self ‘that is ok, this is my feeling – but I don’t need to focus on it now but will do it a 17.00’. She said she felt so powerful and understood (by self). Overtime she realized that the thoughts took up less and there was space for other productive and positive thoughts!
We can have our thoughts without having to fight them and we can master these thoughts once they come. We can actually live with them without being dominated. Once you have found a way to live with your thoughts by giving them less attention and focus you will find that you are in control and you have the freedom of choice
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