Two Ways to Stop the Cycle of Negative Overthinking


Practice these simple techniques to let go of problematic thinking that doesn’t serve you

Stop the cycle of negative overthinking

There is one piece of wisdom that I think I will have inscribed upon my headstone: “Keep it simple, stupid!”

This phrase is my slap across the face as it reminds me of how foolish I can become as I complicate an already challenging life with unwanted thoughts and limiting beliefs.

I know I’m not alone in this as it seems to be the backbone of many problems that blow up out of proportion in all our lives and grow beyond their importance to become behemoths of woe.

Sometimes problems resolve themselves without us having to act, other times not. Sometimes we carry with us all the stuff we couldn’t quite shake off from the previous ‘blow up’ and bit by bit our bag of woe gets too heavy to drag around any further. We have no energy left for pulling it, and so we sit on it going nowhere, ‘protecting’ it and wondering why we are so unhappy.

I’ve used a very effective technique to help strip away the accrued mental crud. I don’t think it has an official name, but let’s call it the “Is it Helpful or Kind?” exercise.

The “Is it Helpful or Kind?” Exercise

First, become aware of your thoughts and beliefs and categorize them as either helpful or unhelpful. You choose your definitions of what helpful or unhelpful is and/or are, as I’m sure you will already have an understanding of which is which. Reject the unhelpful and embrace the helpful.

We have an innate leaning towards being helpful and will find it a useful thing to let go, bit by bit, of the unhelpful thoughts and beliefs.

Second, categorize your thoughts and beliefs as either being kind or unkind. Reject the unkind and embrace the kind.

Compassion is a key to freeing ourselves from the cage of mental angst. Our brains will find evidence to support our thoughts, no matter how unhelpful, negative, or limiting our thoughts and beliefs are. In that case, the evidence our brains find has less to do with truth and more to do with the brain problem-solving something that it’s been asked to do, namely, find evidence to support the cruddy thoughts we’re having.

Practice these two simple techniques and see how your brain will shift into more positive, helpful thinking.

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Graham Barrone, ICHP, D.CBT

Graham is a licensed counselor who specializes in coaching people experiencing long term mental and physical health conditions to help them improve the quality of their lives.

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