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negative thinking psychology

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If you judge yourself for having destructive thought patterns, don’t: the person to the left of you, right of you, in front of you, and behind you has them, too. To some extent, they’re a part of life. To be human means to have the consciousness to dwell on the past, worry about the future, and judge ourselves – hard. It’s the nasty downside of having such evolved minds. But, we don’t have to act on every thought that crosses our minds. Learning to understand which thoughts you should act on, and which ones you should ignore, is a life-long skill that you’ll constantly improve upon and hone.

Never having negative or destructive thoughts is almost an unreachable goal. Anyone who tells you they never have them, well, they’re lying and setting unrealistic standards for others. Rather than hoping you no longer have thoughts you’re less-than-proud of, a more feasible and productive goal is to give those thoughts less power. That may be one of the biggest differences between people who are successful and happy and those who are, well, not. Many, many other factors contribute to one’s success and joy, of course, but this – ignoring destructive thoughts – is one factor you have some control over. We consulted a few mental health experts on how to get better at doing just that. Here’s what psychologist Margaret Seide MD, Faounder of Black Clinician Network Karena Curry, and Founder & CEO of Black Female Therapists, Amber Dee told us.

Amber Dee

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Accept and analyze

“Negative thinking is something that we all do but it can be detrimental when we obsess over it, allow it to control our lives, and have us withdrawing from who we are with and what we are doing,” says Amber Dee. Trying hard to ignore the thought may not be the best course of action, though, as Dee adds, “Do you notice that when you try to stop thinking about something the intention tends to grow stronger?”

Dee notes, “Some studies have shown that the best way to handle this is by accepting the thought and working through it logically. Ask yourself questions such as what’s causing this thought? (who am I with, what am I doing, where am I at). What is my mood? (Am I nervous, guilty, irritated?)”

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