Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a brilliant technique for helping to reduce negative thinking. What I like about it is that if you are thinking in a negative way you are already doing half of what you need to do.
There are a number of variations on EFT. The most traditional version is to tap on acupressure points whilst you say a phrase that sums up how you feel. You work your way round the points on the upper body and hands and the intensity of your negative thought should reduce. In some versions you rub on the points rather than tap or you might simply think about how you feel rather than say it out loud.
Yes, I know it sounds too good to be true but I teach it to nearly every single client I see because I think it’s such a valuable and adaptable self help technique.
There are a lot of resources on the web where you can learn EFT. My recommendation would be that you learn it with a practitioner because you will avoid some of the pitfalls that people can fall into when they try and learn it on their own.
The thing about negativity is that we are hardwired for it; it’s the result of evolution and a way we protected ourselves when we lived more dangerous lives (did you know that we learn quicker from pain than from pleasure?). We are much more likely to store away negative experiences and this actually becomes embedded in the structure of our brains. As psychologist Dr Rick Hanson says: “In effect, our brain is like Velcro for the bad but Teflon for the good.”
To break free from a spiral of negative thinking we can challenge the stories that we are caught up in about ourselves, our lives, and the world around us. Rather than trying to push away the negative chatter try to tune into what it’s saying specifically, and then begin to unpick it: Who says so? Where is the evidence? Is it true? Is it helpful? Remember that negative thoughts serve a purpose – to protect us – so we can thank our brain for bringing something to our attention, and then move on.
In NLP (neurolinguistic programming) there is a process where are you then replace these thoughts with alternatives – you can create a different dialogue, one that drowns out and extinguishers the more negative thinking patterns.
I would also say that establishing a gratitude practice, even when you’re in that place of negativity, is really valuable – it helps to put things in perspective by challenging the thoughts that “everything is terrible, my life is crap, I’m worthless, there’s nothing good in my life”. Another thing that really helps to put things in perspective is to get out into nature (no, this isn’t a new thing either) as it can really work well – to immerse ourselves in the glories of the natural world, to really observe and be present, can fill us with wonder and awe. And that helps us see things differently.
When we are busy and overwhelmed it’s easy to get into a downward spiral. Firstly I would suggest allowing yourself some time to really feel this, give yourself a day of being kind – sit in your PJs if necessary!
Next I would spend a week ensuring good sleep, lots of water and a mix of really good food and a few feel good treats (these can be good food too!).
Then surround yourself with good friends, or a mentor or read up on the things you would like to change.
Good or challenging habits build over time – by building your energy first you will be more able to make positive changes! :)
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