How to Silence Negative Automatic Thoughts
(Inside: Do negative automatic thoughts plague you? Challenge your negative thoughts with truth and watch your brain pivot to positive thinking.)
You can’t believe everything your head tells you.
I often have to remind myself of this.
For example, I recently shared a parenting decision I made with a good friend. In the lengthy conversation of me explaining why-and-when-and-how, my friend mentioned she would not have taken the same route as me.
This was not a right or wrong type of decision rather a personal preference thing, so there was no need for worry or anxiety or especially self-doubt. But, annoyingly I later found myself fretting over and questioning my original decision. I hate that.
I told myself…
Just get over the conversation. But, I couldn’t. Let go of your automatic negative thoughts. But, I clung to them anyway. They are just feelings. Don’t let feelings run the show. But, my emotions were running the show. Self-doubt kept hanging around and messing with my head as if she was entitled to be there.
I’m going to try that.
So, I started with TRUTH #1: My thoughts spun the conversation into negative.
I replayed our exchange. My friend didn’t say she thought I made a poor choice. Nor did she give me the impression she thought she was a better mom. She wasn’t even critical; she was just participating in our discussion by sharing her thoughts. My brain twisted her conversational words into judgmental words.
I then moved onto TRUTH #2: God made everyone different ON PURPOSE. He knows all of our choices and decisions are going to be different and He WANTS IT THAT WAY.
So, this decision I initially felt good about is probably because God intentionally gave me peace over it. He guides me in my own unique path, and it’s supposed to look different than other people’s journeys. So it’s on point for me to feel peace about a direction that my friend might shrug her shoulders and declare Eh, not for me.
And I finished with truth #3: God gives us wisdom.
When we ask for it, He doesn’t withhold it (Proverbs 2). God breathes His voice, His direction, His wisdom into our thoughts. So, all of us are capable of making our own unique best choices. Combine that promise with hindsight from our previous wise decisions and let that give us confidence that this thought-out-intentional decision is also a solid choice.
THAT is what I think scripture means when it says to put on the armor of God. To take a lie floating around in our head and surround it with His truths – armor – that blocks the lie from going anywhere near our hearts.
Because we have all been there. Needless self-doubt has messed with every single one of us.
And no, it’s not about everyone agreeing with us. Nor does it mean we lack confidence. Instead, we all experience self-doubt because it’s a part of the human experience, a result of life’s pressure. Even when we say, I’m not going to feel the weight of doing it all well and being everything for everyone. (Because we shouldn’t.) Still, the pressure is OUT THERE.
But, we don’t have time for this nonsense. We don’t have time for negative thoughts. So when those moments come, let’s choose truth. And armor.
Then, onward friends.
4 more ideas to help you move past your negative automatic thoughts:
When negativity pounds against my head, my brain can tell me I’m doing it all wrong and maybe I should make one (or a thousand) big changes in my life when really, I just need to go get myself a snack.
If surrounding the lie in my head with God’s truth doesn’t work, here are a few other simple things that help me reset my thinking.
1. Move past your negative automatic thoughts through listening to praise and worship music.
One of my favorite reset-my-brain strategies is to turn on a praise and worship song. As I listen, I focus on the words, take deep breathes, and let God’s truths relax my mind and body. My head feels clearer after this practice. Here’s one of my favorites:
2. Move past your negative automatic thoughts through inspirational books.
I firmly believe in the importance of reading empowering books. I have my favorites underlined and highlighted and set all over my house. Sometimes, I pick one up and just read a chapter, simply to get truth into my brain and help transform my negative thoughts into positive ones.
Here are a few of my favorites from my affiliate links. (Or check out my full list of 65+ best books to encourage moms.)
3. Move past your negative automatic though reading the whole “Confidence to be You” series.
Push past your negative thinking and build your confidence in the awesome momma you are through reading more articles in this series.
Confidence to be You Series:
4 Things You Need to Be a Strong, Joy-Filled Mother
How to Silence Negative Automatic Thoughts
Be a More Confident Mom By Exposing These 5 Lies
Momma Knows Best: A Quick Story to Help You Know This
What is Your Story: How Sharing Your Story Gives Life
Momma, Should You Write? (Or Start a Blog?)
4. Move past your negative automatic though nature.
God reminds us how big and powerful and redeeming he is in nature. When something has upset me, I often grab my earbuds, my dog, and head out on the trail around the lake near my own. Water. Trees. Fresh air. It’s all healing.
How do you get past your automatic negative thoughts? Email me or leave your thoughts in the comments.
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.
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