Combatting Negative Thoughts with Mindfulness
Are you struggling with negative thoughts? This time of the year can be difficult for many people. The weather is changing. We have less daylight. The holidays are approaching. Adding cancer to that list can make life seem even more daunting. Repeated negative thoughts can lead to depression. It can certainly lead to an overall feeling of "meh."
Research supports that being mindful reduces the chance of depression. We hear a lot about "being mindful." But what does that really mean? Mindfulness is fully paying attention to the moment without judgement. Observe your thoughts and feelings as if you were an outsider. A casual observer. You are not putting your thoughts and feelings into a "good" or "bad" category - no judgement as you observe the thought.
It is so easy to develop negative trains of thought. The more we do this, the more it becomes "what our brain does." Think of it like wearing a path through the woods, only the well-worn path is inside your brain. It is possible to create new pathways in your brain through practice. Starting to have positive thoughts may feel like you are walking through the thicket. Needing to take high steps to hurdle the brush of habitual, negative thoughts. A wayward branch of negativity snaps back and hits you. Prickers of negative thought stick to your clothing. Plucking them off and trying to break free of the negativity can feel as daunting as trekking through a new area of the woods. But through time, repetition, and practice, positive thoughts can form a new path in your brain. Just as if you would start walking an uncharted path through the woods, it wouldn't be easy at first. But if you walked it everyday, soon enough you would be able to see a pathway starting to form. It would become a little easier and more comfortable to take the positive path. Picture positive thoughts floating down on you, just like a leaf falling from a tree.
Give yourself some time to observe your thoughts and feelings. If they seem to be more negative in nature, practice putting a positive thought in your mind. Make a beaten path of positivity in your mind. If I'm trying to have more positive thoughts, I picture each member of my family with a smile on their face. I often find myself with a smile on my face after I have thought of each person. What do you do that promotes positive thoughts?