Negative Automatic Thoughts (NAT) are like weeds in the garden of life. They can be as pervasive as the hardiest of weeds and grow to overwhelm us, leading to anxiety and depression. Combatting NATs is not unlike combatting weeds. It takes regular conscious effort in maintaining quiet and beauty in our inner gardens.
Eliminating negative automatic thoughts requires conscious, on-going effort. Find soothing activities you enjoy and that consume your attention. This might include a walking meditation in a beautiful setting, tapping into your creativity through writing, or visiting an art display that inspires you. Give your active working mind the respite it needs so that problem solving can begin in its own natural way.
Once you have reached inner calm, allow insights to arise. As they do, question your rationale. Ask yourself “Is this true?” or have you fallen into extreme thinking with all or none. Are you being overly hard on yourself and is there a healthier perspective you could adopt that would serve you better? Embrace an air of curiosity, wondering how how others might perceive this. Have your forgiven yourself or those who keep you from happiness? Forgiveness, in the deepest sense, is more about freeing yourself than about accepting a wrong-doing. Forgiveness is the gateway to internal freedom.
Finally, gratitude is a powerful tool that can override persistent negative thoughts. Think of all the things you are grateful for in life and keep them in the forefront of your mind everyday. Stay connected with friends and seek professional help when necessary. No amount of negativity or inner turmoil ever needs to be fought alone. Happiness is your birthright.