It’s the middle of the day, and once more your head starts to spin with negative thoughts. Thoughts of worry, and doubt. Of anger, and fear. Of jealousy or anxiety. It’s in these moments we would wish to learn how to easily let go of these thoughts. Let them slip away. It’s something I’ve wished to learn for years now. Finally, I understand how to do it. It’s not really a how-to. It’s more a process of becoming aware of the here and now, and that process can be hard. Especially if you want to quickly make your way out of negative thoughts. Here is why.
Quickly Get Out of Negative Thoughts
The process of becoming aware of your thoughts and then letting go can be a significantly hard task for us humans. We are built to think and have thoughts, so if those thoughts have become negative it’s hard for us to let them go. In my teenage years, I’ve struggled with a lot of self-doubt, anxiety, worrying, and fearful thoughts. Mostly related to college and figuring out who I am. Thoughts like: “You are not doing enough, you are not good enough, you are a failure,” or “you aren’t worth it” frequently crossed my mind. Which consumed a lot of the days I could have spent enjoying life. Yet those thoughts, over the course, of three years, have taught me how to let go of them. I don’t think it will take you three years to learn how to let go of the negative thoughts you are having right now. It could be done in just a minute if you are following along with this article.
Whether you are dealing with stressful thoughts or thoughts of self-doubt there is one thing that always makes them worse. That is, wanting to quickly get rid of these negative thoughts. A lot of what I’ve discovered about my thoughts is that the harder I tried, and the more I wanted my negative thoughts to go away, the more persistent and ferocious they become. Our thoughts don’t like to be pushed away, and there is a reason for that. It all has to do with our younger self. The thoughts we have, especially the negative ones, are oftentimes created by a younger side of us. The kid within us. Just like a kid doesn’t like to be pushed away, or ignored, our thoughts don’t like it either. Never the less we keep pushing them away, under the excuse that we can’t deal with them now, or that we are in the middle of something. Now would you say those words to your little kid? (if you would have kids) I wouldn’t because it would make the kid feel unsafe and unloved. There is a better way to deal with our thoughts, just like there is a better way to tell kids that we need a little time.
Negative thoughts often come up at times we rather not want to face them. Like at work, at a party, or when we are all alone. There is never a great moment for a thought of self-doubt or fear to come up. That can make them annoying and makes us want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. The quickest way, for a short period of time, is to push them away. Yet by doing this they will persistently come back. What I learned is that wanting to get rid of our negative thoughts quickly actually lengthens the process. Just like kids will become more annoying if we push them away or ignore them. All they need is just a little bit of attention. A gentle sign that you care. It could be as simple as acknowledging them, saying hello, and asking them what they want, then afterward gently tell them that you are busy and, that if they are okay with it, you would love them to leave.
What I learned is that wanting to get rid of our negative thoughts quickly actually lengthens the process.
That gentle approach is the approach that will fasten the process of letting go of negative thoughts. So now you know why your thoughts keep returning, and why it feels like you can’t seem to ‘quickly’ get rid of your negative thoughts. But there is a way that’s both fast and effective. That’s what I’ve figured out in the last few years of dealing with my negative thoughts.
Gentle Does It
The harder we try to get rid of our negative thoughts, the more often they will return. That is because our need to quickly get rid of them is a rigid and forceful way of letting go of thoughts. It’s that subtle difference, between letting go and getting rid of. Getting rid of sounds harsh and unpleasant, letting go sounds gentle and kind. That’s why it won’t work to push your thoughts away, or feel the need to get rid of them. I suggest taking a more gentle approach instead.
What I mean by that is taking just a bit more time. Not much more, it won’t take hours to let go of your thoughts. Nor will it take you years, as it took me to get rid of a lot of my thoughts. It’s just a few minutes and if you get better at it, it could become almost instantaneous. But that’s for the experts, I am not one of them, yet. Those negative thoughts in your head, as I said before, are created by our inner kid. And the way we often deal with those kids inside us is by pushing them away. Literally placing your hand over their mouth, telling them to shut up and leave the room. They will most of the time obey, and leave you, but it hurts them and they will get back into your room more and more often. Only now they don’t just carry their initial reason for coming into your room, they also carry a feeling of being left alone and being hurt by you. So they get more ferocious, start crying, get louder, maybe even kick and scream. They will, as time passes, get harder to push out of the room.
The better way to deal with them is by gently removing them from the room, or in this case your thoughts.
This is not the way to deal with your negative thoughts. It’s unpleasant and creates more problems than it solves. The better way to deal with them is by gently removing them from the room, or in this case your thoughts. How? By listening to them. Just like a kid will come up to you with their worries, you can deal with your thoughts. Instead of pushing them away ask them what’s wrong. Listen to their worries. This means that you allow in all the negative thoughts there are for a moment. Allow it to flood you. I recently did this with all my negative thoughts and I was astonished by how many different ways of telling myself I suck there were. Thoughts like “you are a failure, you suck, you stink, you look awful, you will never make it, you look horrible, man you are a weakling, your parents are disgusted by you, they will never love you” are just a few, of the maybe hundreds of different ways to talk down on me, that came up. I allowed everything to spill.
I recently did this with all my negative thoughts and I was astonished by how many different ways of telling myself ‘I sucked’ there were.
This is the first thing to do, allow every negative thought you have to enter. To spill out. During this spill of all the negative thoughts, it’s important to remain focused on your breath. Feel it move in and out because this reminds you that you are not your thoughts. They are the pain that’s stored within you. Let everything come out, it’s okay to be scared of this, especially if you are scared that the negative thoughts will stay. Allow that fear into you as well, because you need to trust yourself that you are strong enough to go through it. Those negative thoughts and fears will only get weaker if they have room to come up in. Just like a kid will wear out his energy if it’s angry. Over time that kid will not be able to be angry anymore, it will be exhausted. The same will happen to our thoughts only in a much quicker manner. For me, it at first took a few minutes, maybe 4 to 5 minutes until I found myself having no negative thoughts left. It could be longer for you, could be shorter, depending on how many negative thoughts you have stored within your body. It’s okay, carve out a few minutes to get out as many as possible, try to not be afraid of the thought that these negative thoughts won’t leave you. If it comforts you, you can always go back to pushing them out again.
But trust me, you won’t have to. During this vent of negative thoughts and remaining conscious of our breathing it’s important to not judge your thoughts. Just like you wouldn’t judge your child that came up to you. You won’t say to a kid that is frightened of the thunder to shut up and act like an adult right? You wouldn’t make fun of him or her or laugh at her. You know that it’s scary to go through a thunderstorm as a kid. Try to not do the same to your thoughts. Be kind, and don’t judge your thoughts. They are part of you, they aren’t you completely, but they are a part of you that is hurt and in pain. Don’t cause more pain by being mean to it. Be kind and gentle with your thoughts.
Then after some time has passed focus on your breathing, fully. Focus on the bodily sensation of your breathing. Whether that be your chest, your belly, or your nostrils. Focus on the air moving in and out of your body. If you do that, you will see that you are not your negative thoughts and that the moment you focus on your breath the thoughts can’t be sustained. They can’t be there at the same time. Full focus and complete dedication to your breath results in the total absence of negative thoughts. Those 6 steps have helped me let go of my negative thoughts. I’ve learned that they can’t be forced and that there is no way to forcefully let go of anything. Letting go is a gentle and kind process.
So to give a short recap here are the 6 steps to gently and kindly let go of your negative thoughts:
- Allow all the negative thoughts to spill out
- Keep breathing
- Try not to judge
- Be kind
- Focus on your breath again
- See them leave
The Moment You Can Let Go
You’ll see that by letting the negative thoughts in, you are no longer controlled by them. I feared my negative thoughts less every time I allowed them in. By now when I do this, I automatically start smiling, because I see the irony in it. I see how much I have fought myself, and how much discomfort and pain I’ve caused myself. The moment you can start practicing this, you will see that your life starts to change. The grip those negative thoughts had on the experience of your life will loosen and soon be gone. Just like that little kid will feel loved and heard and happily leave you to your work again.
The grip those negative thoughts had on the experience of your life will loosen and soon be gone.
The way into feeling alive isn’t about feeling positive all the time, it’s about being kind, peaceful, and gentle with yourself. With every part of yourself. Both the negative and the good. This practice of letting go of negative thoughts reinforces all those three values of living a great life and feel alive. You are peaceful, feel no rush on getting rid of your negative thoughts, you are kind to yourself, and gently make your way to a better life. In which your negative thoughts have no control anymore and you can start living. So you can say at the end of your day, Today I Lived! I made the most of it.
Thanks for reading this article, I hope that this practice will help you let go of your negative thoughts. If you like this content, be sure to follow me on Instagram where we together celebrate life, by sharing the beauty of it, as well as learning from it. You can find me on Instagram @today.i.lived. Or you can subscribe to the weekly newsletter I deliberately craft each week, which is called Rise With The Sun. In this newsletter, I share three thoughts about the art of living. In which I appreciate the life we live. So that you can start your week feeling grateful, happy, and energized. I hope to see you there, for now, remember that today you live! make the most of it.