Most of the detoxes we hear about are the physical ways to cleanse our system. Yet our negativity, bad habits and our self-sabotaging cycles of thoughts can often be just as damaging. HEALTH learns how to break the cycle and instead aim to be more positive for the coming year.
Our Thinking Style
Negative thinking, tells Devika Singh Mankani, Psychologist at the Dubai Herbal & Treatment Centre, can develop over time as a pattern of thinking or it can develop quite suddenly after a distressing or traumatic event. “Our biochemistry can determine our thinking style to an extent, so some people may be predisposed to negative thinking,” she says and quite often, depression or anxiety disorders can lead to negative thoughts.
Difficult To Change
Patterns of thinking can become engrained as default mechanisms of processing information and experience, tells Singh-Mankani. “It can be challenging to change any pattern of behavior or thought because they become automatic after a while,” she says however the key to change is to direct thoughts in a way that creates mental stability and emotional contentment.
Steps to Detox Negative Thinking and Self-Sabotage From Your Life
1) The absolute first step is to become aware of these thoughts. This can come from feedback from family, friends, colleagues, a therapist or it can come from your own awareness. The simple question to ask is, “am I thinking of the worst case outcome or have I considered alternative possibilities?”
2) The next step is to break the cycle. This can be done by instructing yourself to “STOP”, by trying to find a distraction to stop the negative thoughts in their tracks, make a note of the thought or talk to a friend who is aware of what is happening.
3) Assign 15 minutes of ‘worry time’ during the day where you can actively engage in these negative thoughts. The goal here is to have a space to direct these thoughts during the day so they don’t interfere with your functioning. You can come back to think about these thoughts again during ‘worry’ time but you probably won’t want to by then.
4) Brainstorm alternative ways of thinking about the same thought. For example, if you find yourself constantly criticizing yourself at work or in your role as a parent then ask for alternatives to this thought such as, “I actually got recognition from my team for that project” or, “our children are in good health and have friends” I always recommend writing these out and keeping them in a safe place you can refer to later.
5) Changing a pattern of thinking or behavior is a process and should be approached as a project. Track your ideas, and write a plan for the day using specific examples of what you will do. The focus has to be on action. For example, “today I will try to recognize my negative thoughts and redirect them to “worry time” within 25 seconds of identifying it.”