Have you ever been caught in an avalanche of negative thoughts?
Thoughts that seem inescapable and overpowering – growing ever more destructive until they take on a life of their own, crushing your happiness in their wake.
It’s a terrible way to live, yet it is the norm for many of us. We don’t realize that this way of living is a conscious choice that we make. And even fewer of us know that we have the power to control our negative thoughts.
Luckily, the brain’s emotional circuits are linked to its cognitive circuits, which we access whenever we use our conscious mind. That means that you can’t become happier by sheer force of will — so the trick is to change your emotions and behaviors by first changing your thoughts.
The Cognitive Behavioural Specialists at Captain Calm have developed a technique that will train you to do just that — it’s called THINK.
THINK is a mental superpower. One that will give you extraordinary control over your mind so that you can break free from the oppression of negative thoughts and unleash your full potential.
We’ve seen firsthand how the implementation of this technique has changed people’s lives helping them to become a far more positive, rational and happier version of themselves.
Here’s the first step.
Take a step back
Negative thoughts tumble down from the mysterious mountain that is your subconscious. There’s no stopping them. However, you can learn to become more aware when you’re on the brink of a negative thought avalanche.
Once you have realized this, you can take a step back and not allow yourself to be swept up in your thoughts.
Instead of being outside, battered by the crushing ice and snow, rather be inside your house, where you are safe, warm and merely observing the avalanche through your window — aware of your thoughts but removed from them.
This is a practice called meta-cognition, which is just a snazzy term for ‘thinking about your thoughts.’ It’s important for you to build up your meta-consciousness muscles so that you can learn to be aware of your negative thoughts and not allow them to go unchecked, take over and make you miserable.
By taking a step back, you learn to respond and not react. You can assess your thoughts rationally and know that you have the power to control them.
Breathing plays a vital role in calming your body and mind. It helps you to calm down and think clearly.
When you’re having negative thoughts that cause fear or anger, your heart races and adrenaline starts to surge through your body, impairing cognitive function and adding to your feelings of stress.
You need to get your adrenaline levels under control, and the best way to do that is by balancing your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Oxygen fuels adrenaline. That’s why people who are having panic attacks breathe into a paper bag — so that they inhale more carbon dioxide to counterbalance the surge of oxygen-fuelled adrenaline.
Try to breathe in, hold your breath and exhale for seven seconds each.
Identify your thoughts
To change your negative thoughts, you first need to identify exactly what it is that you are thinking. When you identify your thoughts, you take their destructive power away and can respond to them positively and appropriately.
A word of caution — It’s important not to dwell on this step for too long. If you do, you will be allowing yourself to slip back into the path of the avalanche again. Identify and move onto the next step, which is to…
Notice how you feel
Take a moment to notice how your negative thoughts are making you feel, both emotionally and physically, and know that you can cope with those feelings.
This step will make you notice that it is your negative thoughts that are making you feel this way, not the situation.
Keep replacing with positive thoughts
This is the key step — the one that allows you to change your thoughts and bring about a more rational and positive perspective on your situation.
Most of the time we are excessively mean and hard on ourselves. It’s interesting why we’re never as kind to ourselves as we would be to other people.
Think about it: if your best friend tells you about a problem she is having, would you ever say the terrible things to her that you say to yourself?
Don’t treat yourself like the enemy. Rather think what you would say to motivate, support, encourage and reassure a friend.
Now say the same things to yourself, and make sure to keep replacing your negative thoughts over and over, whenever they rear their ugly heads.
When you have a negative thought, remember to T.H.I.N.K.
T — Take a step back
H — Huge breath
I — Identify your thoughts
N — Notice how you feel
K — Keep replacing with positive thoughts
That’s it. Five steps you can do in under a minute.
And the beauty is that the more that you practise the THINK meta-cognition technique, the more you’ll be rewiring your brain so that thinking positively, rationally and productively will become your automatic response to any situation.
Always remember — you control your thoughts, not the other way around.
You can either THINK or be ruled by your thoughts.
Now you have the power to choose.
This technique was developed by Captain Calm — an app that uses the tools and techniques of Cognitive Behavioural Coaching like superpowers to help kids and teens solve their problems and unleash their full potential.
The Captain Calm app will be launching soon; you can visit their website to sign up and receive a special pre-launch giveaway — a comic teaching THINK to kids.