I See That You Have Roaches: A 5 Step Guide to Eliminating Those Pesky Insects We Call Negative Thoughts
Written By: Janine Canaday, LCPC
It is the middle of the week and you are sitting down at your dinner table trying to enjoy your meal, but you cannot help but notice a tiny dark shadow moving swiftly across the floor. It starts to move closer to your direction and suddenly stops to signal the attention of his other friends; more roaches. They start to scatter quickly across the floor on a mission to steal your food and destroy a nice recipe that you just tried for the first time.
Your kids are not aware of the circus happening around them and continue to devour the delicious food before them that is quickly turning into bones and crumbs. They do, however notice a change in your facial expressions and body language signaling that something is not right. Shear panic runs across your face as you watch more and more roaches march around in your kitchen, coming from all directions, as if they live there and own your house. You start to feel overwhelmed and at a loss of how to handle this situation which appears terrifying and unsettling. Your kids do not see what you see, but they do try to offer sympathy and a sweet gesture of asking “Are you ok, Mommy?”
It is not long before you realize that the masquerade ball of roaches that you see is really the feeling of stress and overwhelm that is happening in your mind. Your thoughts are racing and on a mission to steal your short moment of happiness and . Bills have been piling up, your workload has increased at the job and sign of a raise is not in the near future. Your kids are doing well, but you still feel a sense of inadequacy as a parent because you compare your child’s develop to that of little Johnny across the street.
Your husband works late hours and quality time with him seems almost nonexistent. The weight of your current situation hits you all at once. Mixed emotions of depression and anxiety consume you and negative thoughts about how you will not be able to to fix it start to attract more negative thoughts suggesting that you are a complete failure all around.
Now, you have 1 of 2 choices. You can either allow those negative, self-defeating, dream killing, intrusive and pesky thoughts to spiral out of control, or you can stomp those unwanted roaches out and squash their mere existence! Here are 5 ways to do this:
- Challenge negative self-talk. -Start to train yourself to become aware of the negative thoughts you are having. Ask yourself, “Are these thoughts helpful?” “Will these thoughts improve my situation?” “Are they going to change my situation in a positive way?” If the answer is “No” to your challenges, then you affirm they are negative thoughts and move towards changing them to positive thoughts.
- Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. -Start changing the language that you use in your mind and with your speech. You can start with, “I will get through this situation.” “This may be a setback, but I will find a way to make this work.” “I am stronger than I think.””This is difficult and uncomfortable, but it is only temporary.” “I choose to see this challenge as an opportunity.”
- Breathe deeply. -Breathing this way helps to regulate and relax the body as well as helps to gain peace and clarity of mind. Sit still and comfortably in your chair, close your eyes and put one had on your chest while the other is on your stomach. Breathe deeply, slowly and quietly through your nose and feel your stomach go in. Breathe out through your mouth and feel your stomach go out. Your hand on your chest should not move. You can practice this a couple times a day for 5-10 minutes to start.
- Identify solutions that are manageable.– It is easy to become overwhelmed when we think about ALL that we have to do. Break it down into small, manageable goals or a To-Do lists that you can achieve. After you have written down your goals, talk it out by yourself or with someone that you trust to come up with the best solutions to achieve the goals. Complete one goal and move on to the next one.
- Engage in enjoyable and productive activities. Your time is valuable. It is often the case that we spend a lot of time engaging in unproductive behavior, ruminating on how we are going to figure it out, coming up with reasons why it will not work, and getting trapped in the lies of excuses that we feed ourselves. All of that energy that is put into unproductive thinking can be reinvested into productive, positive and fun energy that fuels a fresh perspective, forward thinking and problem solving skills.
So…..the choice is yours. You can allow roaches to run your havoc in your mind or you can squash their very existence and allow positive thinking to take up a dwelling place.