Negative thoughts can contribute to anxiety, stress and depression as well as a host of other issues that are all based in shame, fear and guilt.

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If not dealt with, they can fester in the mind and exacerbate the various difficulties in our daily lives. The vast majority of us have had them at some stage. They hold us back from achieving our full potential.

It is important to realize that we are able to stop these negative thoughts in their tracks, that we can take control and dictate our own thought patterns.

To do this, we can implement a basic strategy called the Five R’s:

  • Recognize
  • Refuse
  • Relax
  • Re-frame
  • Resume

The first part is to recognize that you are having a negative thought. Ideally we can see the thought forming and recognize what it is before it fully forms and begins to affect us. This first step will allow us to take control of the thought and deal with it as we see fit.

Secondly, we have to refuse to allow the thought to continue. This can be difficult to do. A good way is to visualize a STOP sign in our minds and place this in front of the negative thought. If we can do this, then we disrupt the negative thought process and shift our focus elsewhere.

Dealing with this negative thought can increase our stress or anxiety levels. Now having diverted our attention from the negativity, we need to relax again. For a lot of people this may be achieved by taking a few controlled, deep breaths. For others, it may be visualizing a happy place. The important thing is that we are diverting our attention from the negative thought and relaxing ourselves.

Fourthly, we want to re-frame our thought pattern to something consistent with our best performance. We want to replace the negative thought with a positive thought that will give us the confidence to complete the task or return to a positive mental attitude. It is wise to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the performance that you want to achieve.

Lastly, we resume our activity or task with a renewed sense of control and confidence. Go back to what you were doing before the negative thought began. What you do and how you do it are now 100% within your control.

Negative thoughts affect us all, but we all have the ability to control the negative thoughts.

The next time you feel one coming on, use these five steps to take control. With effective implementation, it can bring about powerful results.

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