Negative thought replacement is a method for reducing the amount of depressive thoughts in a person’s mind. In the first article of this series, you learned about becoming more aware of your negative thought patterns. In the next article, you learned about letting go of these negative thoughts as they came to you. Now, you’ll learn about the final step — replacing negative thoughts with more realistic and positive thoughts.
One word of caution — if you are having thoughts about suicide or hurting someone else, tell someone and get professional help immediately. This is a medical emergency — call 911 or your local hospital for help. Thought replacement may not be enough to keep you and others safe from harm in this kind of situation.
Introducing New Positive Thoughts
As you acknowledge and release the negative thoughts about your finances, you can start introducing new thoughts in your mind. First, consider some of the positive changes or actions you and your spouse have taken because of the job loss. Maybe you have gotten creative with your budget, put out lots of resumes, or changed some purchasing habits.
When you release a negative thought about your bills, say something new to yourself like, “I’m feeling more in control because we have cut down some of our bills,” or, “We are finding ways to use our money more wisely and it is helping.” Use the positive information you have learned from this difficult situation to stay encouraged.
Keep Practicing Positive Thought Replacement
You may not quite believe yourself at first since you may be used to your negative thoughts driving everything. If your thoughts are reasonable and encouraging, continue saying them to yourself. Instead of predicting disaster, your newer, more positive thoughts will now pave the way for solutions you may have never considered before. Your problem has become an opportunity.
Images and sounds can also be very influential for some people’s minds. If you know you respond to these, you may conjure up a particular image with your positive thoughts to give them weight — perhaps a color that is calming to you, or an objectr that represents contol or strength to you.
Words spoken aloud also can have a profound effect on the mind. A recent study highlighted in Psychology Today describes how speaking aloud helps create two forms of memory. You remember the words both from reading them and from hearing them aloud.
Change the Direction Of Your Mind with Positive Thoughts
Let’s take one last look at our example of financial worries. You identified the chief concern underneath the negative thoughts about your money, which was a lack of control. When you do something that makes you feel more in control, you take the fuel out of your negative thoughts.
You feel less threatened by the negative statements you hear in your mind because your emotions are calmed by your actions. “We’re never going to make it out of this money mess” has less power when you get job interviews from putting out resumes. And now, you are starting to put better more encouraging thoughts into your mind. These are starting to come more easily each day.
Negative thoughts may still come at you, but maybe not so frequently or with as much punch. They become easier to replace because your feelings are being driven by more positive thoughts. Just as negative thoughts can build and feed on themselves, positive ones can do the same. This takes work and patience, but letting go and replacing the thoughts as they come can tame the raging river of negativity.
Thought Replacement: Just One Tool for Managing Depression
Thought replacement may be just one of many ways you can manage your depression. Also, this method is useful when you have been in remission and you feel yourself sliding into some negativity again. Your awareness of your thoughts can give you a clue about possible relapse into significant depression, maybe even help you get ahead of it.
Every human being has times when they are in a negative slump for a while. The goal with this awareness and replacement process isn’t to completely prevent negative thoughts from ever entering your mind. That just isn’t realistic. The idea is to improve your ability to reduce manage the negativity in your mind. This can keep your brain from getting bogged down every time you are distressed by something.
Develop A Good Habit: Managing Your Negative Thoughts
As you get familiar with this process, you may find that it gets easier over time. There is no magic wand to take away stress and problems in life. But you hold the key to your quality of life, and negativity doesn’t have to be in charge.
Krull, E. (2010). Replacing Your Negative Thoughts. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/replacing-your-negative-thoughts/0003762
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jun 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.