Negative thoughts and mental health
Research shows that at least 10% of the population, at any one time, suffer from an anxiety disorder. But if you take into account the figures for those experiencing stress-related problems – which are clearly related to worry and anxiety – the figures are likely to be far higher. And most of us have problems with negative thinking: gloomy thoughts about the future, guilt over the past, the idea that we can’t cope with the present, and obsessions about having to get it all right.
On that subject the National Institute of Mental Health – NIMH – calculates that around 1% of the population in the USA suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – or OCD – (that’s over 3 million people). But millions more are bothered by obsessions about work, about our personal appearance, about our success or failure in life and anything else that might have to do with the Ego. Incidentally, obsessions are also the driver for addictions to drugs, alcohol and gambling, about which I wrote in my last series of articles.
A new method for neutralising negative thoughts
The method work work for worries, obsessive thoughts, perfectionistic thoughts and depressive thoughts.
It comprises four basic steps as follows:
- 1. Change Position
- 2. Change Attitude
- 3. Change Focus
- 4. Practice Mindfulness
For any worry, obsession or negative thought you first change your position to it. Instead of identifying the thought as coming from you, instead you change to seeing the worry as coming from IT – meaning the robot inside your head.
Next you change your attitude to the ‘robot’. Instead of getting upset by it you learn how to dismiss it through ridicule, boredom or contempt.
Then you change your focus of attention, immediately re-engaging the mind with something focused, productive, entertaining or calming to do.
Finally, you practice mindfulness on a daily basis. This could entail meditation, yoga, tai chi, sensate focusing or a myriad other ways of focusing on present moment awareness. This isn’t strictly a ‘fourth step’ but a way of making the other three steps easier to practice.
More on this method in the articles that follow.