I had a meeting yesterday with several colleagues and one of them asked for advice on stopping the negative thinking that interferes with her ability to be productive on a daily basis. I offered her a two step strategy that I hope will be helpful for you as well.
Step 1: The first thing that’s important to do is to rethink your relationship to your thinking. We learn to personalize our thoughts with statements such as, “My thoughts” or “I think.” I recommend a technique called “externalizing” which changes your thoughts from something you are to something you have a relationship with.
An externalized relationship with your thoughts sounds like, “I allow myself to entertain such negative thoughts,” or “These thoughts keep intruding on my day.” Make sense?
Step 2: Learn to talk to your thoughts as though they were an advisor, an advisor whose advice you reserve the right to dismiss. For example, the moment the negative thoughts occur you turn to them as you would a friend who, at the moment, is offering advice that doesn’t serve you and say, “Thank you for sharing, I’m choosing to focus on something else right now.” If the thinking persists you add, “You obviously care about me, so for now, your silence is the best way to support me.”
Repeatedly interrupting the negative thoughts is one of the best ways to short circuit them.
Have fun with this strategy and feel free to pass it along.