Ask the experts: Negative thoughts causing you trouble? Our Happiful family experts from Hypnotherapy Directory answer your questions on negative thoughts, to help you put your mind at ease
My mind seems to fall into obsessing over negative thoughts, particularly at night. Do you have any advice on how to stop this spiralling?
If you find yourself lying in bed obsessing at night (or day), start by focusing on taking slow, deep breaths. As
a distraction technique, this will take your mind away from your immediate thoughts. When we are anxious, we tend to take quick and shallow breaths from the chest. Instead, place your hands on your stomach and when you breathe in, breathe from your diaphragm (your diaphragm moves down and pushes your stomach out) as though you are inflating a balloon. Make your ‘out’ breath longer than your ‘in’ breath (ideally
working towards breathing in through your nose for seven and out through your mouth for 11). Try not to fight the way you feel when you’re anxious, as this in itself can cause further anxiety. Know this feeling will pass and is only temporary – remember all the times you’ve felt anxious before and survived! You are not your thoughts. Be non-judgemental and compassionate. Be kind to you! Michelle Wakerell
I feel like my inner voice always goes straight for the negative – I seem to focus on all the things I can’t do, or think I’m going to fail. How can I improve my self-talk?
If your self-talk goes straight for the negative,
try framing those thoughts as if they were directed at yourself in the third person. So when you think “I’m rubbish at this” or “I always fail,” instead switch the target of your thoughts to your own name. For example, if your name was Bob, you would instead be voicing the thought that “Bob is rubbish at this,” or “Bob always fails.” How does that sound? Is it right or fair? Or are you being overly
critical of Bob? Would you talk about a friend in this way? Could you treat Bob with the same compassion that you do others? Sometimes, shifting perspective in this way is enough to gently highlight how unfair this negative self-talk is. Try instead to be open to the idea that “Bob is doing his best,” or “Bob needs a bit more support on this occasion.” Emily Fennell
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