Counsellor Sarah Barr looks at persistent negative thoughts, and what we can do to change them.

Let’s do a thought experiment:

  • Close your eyes.
  • Imagine a pink elephant
  • What shade of pink is it?
  • Is it happy/sad/indifferent?
  • Think about the pink elephant for 60 seconds.
  • Then slowly open you eyes.
  • Now STOP thinking about the pink elephant.
  • Whatever you DON’T think about the pink elephant.

Are you still thinking about the pink elephant? Is it really hard to stop thinking about the pink elephant?

I thought so.

This exercise shows how hard it is to suppress or ignore our negative thoughts.

When we are upset or sad, often people will tell us to “forget about it” or “not to think about it”.

This exercise has demonstrated when we try to stop thinking about something and suppress it, our minds will keep drifting back to that negative thought.

So what can you do?

Well one thing is to put all your focus on things that take up all your attention. Such as:

  • Colouring
  • Knitting
  • Running
  • Reading
  • Cooking
  • Writing
  • Meeting friends
  • Or doing whatever makes you happy.

Distraction and concentration can help move our thoughts from a negative and repetitive mode. This will automatically improve our form as we are no longer wallowing in our bad mood. Overall helping us to deal with our problems in a more rational way.

Remember sometimes the more you try to push thoughts out, the bigger they get.  A thought is just a thought, it is not a fact. However once we attach an emotion or feeling to that thought it seem very real. Before we know it we have created a scenario in our heads of what is going to happen. Yet we are not fortune tellers, this is only an assumption fed by fear. The thought usually has no evidence to back it up. When we are feeling low, tired, anxious or have just gone through a life-changing event these thoughts can become stronger and often more difficult to deal with.

You sometimes don’t want to say your thoughts out loud to others, for fear of rejection, judgement or humiliation. You are not the only person to have negative, intrusive and repetitive thoughts.

There is support available if you feel you cannot manage these negative thoughts yourself. CBT is a great technique used by counsellors that teaches you how to take back the control of your thoughts.

For any further information I can be contacted through my Facebook Page or call 0864477867.


Take Care ~ Sarah Barr.