One Quick Way to Banish Negative Thoughts

An anxious mind will sometimes throw you a negative thought, but it's not the thought alone that causes you to suffer -  it's how you respond, or more specifically, how much attention you’re willing to give that thought that gives it power.

Here’s an example I find helpful. If you throw a dog a stick it’s either going to chase it, or ignore it. A stick ignored remains a stick, an unremarkable scrap of wood that is noticed briefly as it sails through the air but is soon forgotten.

But a stick that a dog chases becomes an object of intense focus. Every time the dog sees that stick he’s going to chase it. He becomes fixated with it, he can’t take his eyes off it and when he finally gets it what does he do? He chews on it.

What’s my point?

A stick is just a stick and a thought is just a thought unless we give it the attention that allows it to be otherwise. If you pay attention to negative thoughts you will feel your anxiety intensify as the thought grows and preoccupies your mind.

You have the power to choose how you respond, when you feel a worry nagging for your attention get up and move. Walk away from it and find something else to focus on fast.

Anything that you find diverting and relaxing will help you put your attention elsewhere again. Take a walk, call a friend, read, do a crossword puzzle. Just find something else to do to divert your mind and help you gain distance and perspective.

For help with controlling negative thoughts try our Silent Witness Breathing download - a simple anxiety breathing technique that helps you relax and step back from anxious thinking. You can download it from the stress and anxiety relief download page for the price of a latte.


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