The paradox of thought 

Thoughts are just thoughts. They are neither good nor bad. But it’s difficult to resist judging them. It seems that the harder you try to get rid of a bad thought, the worse it gets.

The key to battling negativity is accepting it. This paradox allows you to step aside from the worry and view it at face value. You can also use ‘Socratic questioning‘ to enhance your reframing; instead of berating yourself, act like you’re the one offering advice to an anxious friend.

Another tactic for conquering gloomy thinking is asking what purpose it serves. All the stress induced by politics — results you have no control over — accomplish nothing.

If you’re still stuck and need to get outside your head, meditate or do some breathing exercises. Tara Brach also has some excellent guided meditations.

When I want to escape the monkey mind, I turn on the app Focus@Will. It not only calms me down but helps me get into a productive flow.

In summary, there are four tactics for warding off pessimism:

  1. Accept the thought no matter how ridiculous or scary it is
  2. Gain perspective by using the Socratic questioning method
  3. Ask if the thinking helps you accomplish anything useful
  4. Breathe in and out, or whatever practice relaxes the mind

PS. Keep this in mind. Said cognitive psychologist Amos Tversky: “when you are a pessimist and the bad thing happens, you live it twice. Once when you worry about it, and the second time when it happens.”

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.