One of the biggest ways I have been able to naturally reframe any negative thought patterns in recent years is allowing myself to feel gratitude for blessings I have in my life. Our current global climate can feel overwhelming, disheartening, and chaotic. This notion paired with the reality of human existence can easily manifest into internal tension caused by negative thought patterns. If left unchecked, this internal tension can easily bleed into other areas of my life, leading to external tension I am putting onto those I love.
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle once said, "becoming aware of negative thinking is the first step in breaking one's addiction to it."
After years of self reflection, inner work, and obtaining the proper skills to help silence my ego, I can say with honesty that I have mostly overcome my previous tendency and habit of leaning into negative thought patterns. However, seeing as I am an imperfect human, living within a space of gratitude and being aware of negative thought patterns takes ongoing, daily work.
As an example, here are some automatic negative thoughts I recently caught myself thinking:
I don’t have enough hours in my day.
I have so much laundry to do.
I don’t feel like cleaning my bathtub.
I am mentally exhausted and want to cancel these plans.
While there is no issue with having these types of thoughts due to human nature, the key to switching perspective is awareness of the thoughts to allow oneself to reframe. For example:
I don’t have enough hours in my day → I get to live a life that is so full.
I have so much laundry to do → I have plenty of clothing that I get to wear.
I don’t feel like cleaning my bathtub → I lived six years in Asia without a bathtub, and yearned for one. I get to use my clean, running water to keep it clean so I can use it.
I am mentally exhausted and want to cancel these plans → I get to have friendships in which I am able to be honest with myself and others, and they will understand if I need time to myself tomorrow.
At the end of the day, I cannot control the world around me or any of the injustices that upset me. However, what I can control is recognizing that I have the power to control my thoughts, allowing myself to show up each day as my highest self, so that I have the energy and capacity to take care of myself and others.
By Laura Nalin, LPC, CADC