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negative_thoughts… is that if you allow them to fester, you just make them stronger by continuously feeding them.

I’ve had my share of dealing with every one of the above mentioned thoughts and a whole slew of others over the years. And it is not fun!

It makes me feel anxious.

It lowers my energy level.

It can affect my sleep, cause me to eat too much or too little or opt for unhealthy food and the list goes on.

Many years ago I wanted something so bad. I obsessed about it every waking moment. I dreamt about it when I slept. Soon I couldn’t focus on anything else. It was like an addiction.

I knew I was in trouble so I tried not to think about it. The more I tried not to think about it, the more I thought about it. I was stuck in an unwanted and unhealthy thought loop.

I’ve had similar experiences when I’m afraid, or jealous, or scathingly angry with someone; I get stuck in a loop and the more I think about it, the less time I have for anything else.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to just flip a switch to turn off my thoughts, so I’ve learned some other techniques that seem to help.

  • Do something about it. If there is anything within my power that I can do to make a situation right, I need to do it.
  • Taking care of me. I may not be able to move beyond my thoughts right away, but I can take care of me by eating right, exercising, brushing my teeth, showering, social outings, etc.
  • Focus on someone else. One thing all of the above thoughts have in common is they are all about me. So I can focus on others; I can invite them over for dinner, help them move to their new place, listen if they’re struggling, cheer them up, encourage them, bake cookies and bring them over for no reason, etc.
  • Keep busy with projects. Clean out my closet, write that letter I’ve been meaning to write, do those things I’ve been putting off. Even at the best of times, these neglected projects nag at me. As I cross them off my list one by one, it is amazing how good it makes me feel. This good feeling begins to replace my negative thinking.
  • Count my blessings. Yes, I know, it sounds cliché, but it really works! As I look at all I have; shelter, food, security and I think of, and pray for, and send warm thoughts to those I care about, my dark mood lifts.
  • Wine and chocolate!

How do you get yourself out of negative thought loops?