Learning to Simplify

How to Distract Yourself from Negative Thinking

I have to confess I struggle with negative thinking. When I was younger, I used to be super optimistic, to the point of being unrealistic. This obviously got me into trouble and caused others to criticize me. Since I am also a people pleaser (meaning I just want everyone to be happy and will try any way to make that happen) I tried to become a more logical and reasonable thinker. Except, well, I over did it and now struggle to keep happy thoughts.

With life being as perfect as it could possibly be at the moment – it’s honestly what I have been dreaming about for years! – I realized that the negative thinking had become a habit that I need to break. How to do it? By something that comes naturally – distracting yourself with another task.

This technique comes from Dr. Daniel G. Amen’s book called “Feel Better Fast and Make It Last”. He gives a number of strategies to overcome negativity and other brain-related concerns. There are a number of techniques mentioned but this one has been by far the easiest and most effective for me.

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Here’s How the Technique Works

When you feel yourself slipping back into that old habit again take 3-5 minutes to do something that you enjoy and that would distract you from that old habit. It could be playing a game on your phone or doing some breathing exercises or getting up to get a glass of water. Anything that would shift your focus onto the present and away from those negative thought patterns would work here.

From my experience, it only takes about a minute for the storm of negativity to pass. So, when the next storm comes your way, make sure to shelter your mind by taking your mind elsewhere.

What strategies are you going to try? Try and come up with 2-3 distractions you could use before negative thinking strikes again so that you are ready.

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