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  • Paula Thompson
    Paula Thompson

    How Can I Break the Cycle of Negative Thoughts and Emotions?

    Dear eNotAlone: It's like a double-edged sword - I feel like I'm going in circles and know I need to do something, but I'm so overwhelmed by my thoughts, emotions, and anxieties. I need help realizing that the only way to move forward is to accept the negativity within me, face it, and work to recognize and talk around it instead of acting out of it. How can I break this cycle and move forward?

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    It's an understandable struggle when it feels like you're going in circles, with difficulties that overwhelm, in a constant pull towards feeling negative. It's good that you're wanting to move forward but there is a delicate balance between facing our inner turmoil and acting out of it. You must learn how to recognize the feelings, respect them for what they are, and work on talking around them, rather than acting out of them.

    Understand your feelings and try to be compassionate with yourself. Notice when a feeling arises and take a moment to pause and look inward. Take a few breaths, recognizing that these feelings may be uncomfortable and possibly overwhelming, but remain in touch with them. Take a step back to give yourself the space to think about why these feelings have appeared and if there is a pattern that begins to emerge. Trying to define your triggers will help you give you insight into your overall wellbeing; with an understanding of the patterns, you can begin to find ways to manage your responses.

    Learning to become mindful of your thoughts and responding in a constructive way can help bring peace and clarity. On the one hand, we must be aware of the current pull towards feeling negative; but on the other hand, we can also practice techniques of appreciation and gratitude, to help lift our moods. For example, you can take the time to sit quietly, generating a list of positives in your life. This will slowly develop the habit of focusing on the generosity in life and turning away from a cycle of negative thinking.

    Frequently leaning on trusted friends and/or a professional is a great way to develop a secure and nurturing support network. A mental health therapist or an online group forum provides a safe space to explore emotions and gain a better understanding of one's self. Otherwise, if this is not an option, make sure that you surround yourself with people who build you up and share the same values and goals to help you become accountable.

    It takes strength and courage to face our innermost battles; begin to recognize the intrinsic beauty of self-awareness and build on that understanding. With time and practice, you can work on intuitively listening to your emotions and acknowledging them in a way that will bring out the positive. Your initial experience may be that of discomfort, but eventually, you can start to learn understanding and acceptance of yourself – without judgement.

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