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Why Your Negative Thoughts Aren’t Real

Recently, I experienced the profound effects of when bipolar medication starts to work (finally); I feel like a completely different person. One of the most significant changes I’ve seen in myself is increased confidence levels and a huge reduction in negative self-talk and feelings of self-doubt. This change made me realise how much control my brain has over my thoughts and emotions. It’s taught me that although my mind is part of me, it doesn’t mean all my thoughts are real and true.

Negative thoughts – an internal conflict

Originally, I didn’t consider negative thoughts to be untrue because, well, I had nothing to compare to. But now that I’ve experienced the ‘old me’ and the ‘new me’, I can see that my thoughts were completely taking over my life,  ‘I’m not good enough’ ‘I’m a failure’ ‘I can’t do it’ ‘I’m worthless’. It’s an internal conflict to the max, I would see it like a good guy and a bad guy sitting on either side of my brain, my two states of mind.  It wasn’t the truth; it was perception and all based on what has been programmed into me based on life experiences. We are never born into thinking negatively; it’s programmed into us through experiences.

Of course, the way to ditch these self-depreciating thoughts is to start believing better of ourselves but right now, I’m experiencing what I believe is the step that comes before that – accepting that our negative self-talk, the crap our mind is telling us, is not true, it’s a big fat lie.

Here’s an example of my experience.

The ‘old me’ vs. the ‘new me’

When I was unwell with my bipolar and anxiety and trying to get my medications right, every time I looked in the mirror all I would see of myself was an unattractive and tired mother with stretch marks and a ‘Mummy tummy‘ who needed to lose a lot of weight and who looked terrible in almost everything I wore. I listened to and believed my negative thoughts. Fast forward to me now, a woman with a much healthier mind and, I entered those dreaded change rooms at Target, you know, the ones with multiple mirrors that have you wishing you were wearing a blind fold?

I kid you not, but as I stood there in my underwear, I remember looking at myself thinking, ‘Geeze, I don’t look that bad,’ with a huge smile on my face. Previously, I would have felt like crying, putting the clothes back on the hangar and quickly driving home.

The truth is, I had not lost any weight; I was the same Eva as I was when I despised my reflection. But this time, the ‘good side’ of my mind was stronger, and I refused to listen to the ‘bad side’ of my mind, I had recognised my negative thoughts as lies, and boy did it feel good to get to the stage of ignoring the thought, believing in myself again and looking at the positives.

Why negative thoughts aren’t real

With what I have experienced with my mental illness, I find it very hard to articulate the thoughts that go through my head but Nancy Colier LCSW, Rev. explains so well, why negative thoughts aren’t real and why we shouldn’t believe them. She explains that what makes a thought feel so real is the attention we bring to it. We turn a thought into an actual object by putting focus on it and relating to it as though it’s actually something that is happening (when it really isn’t).

Then, the thought and the object are linked when, in actual fact, the two things aren’t actually connected at all, the thought has nothing to do with the object, the thought will not affect the object unless we believe it does. Grasping this concept means that if you do not attend to a thought, it will literally cease to exist, a thought will literally be nothing.

There are so many other things I’ve read about how to rid myself of negative thoughts and self-doubt but this has to be, hands down, the most effective thing for me to keep reminding myself of – negative thoughts aren’t real. Poof, they’re gone!

I hope that in reading this, the next time a negative thought appears in your mind, that you can remind yourself that it is not real, that the negative thought does not take a solid form nor does it exist anywhere outside your body. No one else but you knows about what you are thinking and if you choose not to believe it, it will not continue, it will disappear.

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Eva Lewis