Mental Health-o-pedia

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20th March 2022



Written by: Bonoshree Dutta 


Sometimes, negative thoughts become our companions. We can't get rid of them even if we want to. And like a cloud over our head, they rain down nothing but worries. Automatic negative thoughts (ANT) are thoughts that are negative and random in nature in reference to one’s self. It is indeed normal to have negative thoughts, and we all have them, maybe each and every day. But running away from negative thoughts can only render a temporary solution. Instead of looking for temporary solutions, why don't we learn to defuse these negative thoughts?


We shall overcome!

We can use a few simple techniques to challenge our negative thoughts.

  • Visualization
  • Disposal
  • Coping Statements
  • Mind Attribution

Let's find out how we can use these techniques:

VISUALIZATION: This method helps you defuse the intensity of your negative thoughts by pulling you out of the moment and making you evaluate your thoughts. For this method, you can - 

                  ● Visualize these thoughts being said out loud in a humorous setting. Maybe a comedian saying them out loud or an opera singer singing them.

DISPOSAL: This technique helps you to discard negative thoughts. For this technique, you can - 

             ● Write down the unhelpful or negative thoughts on a piece of paper and throw the piece of paper in a bin.

COPING STATEMENTS:  Coping statements can help you break free from your downward spiral and prevent you from ruminating. It's a distraction technique. For this method you can - 

              ● Form some coping statements that you can say whenever you feel yourself getting overwhelmed with negative thoughts and saying them out loud to yourself. Keep easy access to them so that you can find them at any time. Personalize it to make it sound like your own voice. Here are some examples: "I am allowed to struggle, it's okay to not be okay.","My emotions do not reflect reality.

GROUNDING EXERCISE: Another distraction technique is using a grounding exercise. These help in preventing you from dwelling in the negative thoughts and channel your focus onto something else. For this you can - 

  • Use a popular technique called the 54321 technique. Whenever faced with a negative thought, name
    • 5 things you can see,
    • 4 things you can feel,
    • 3 things you can hear,
    • 2 things you can smell,
    • and take 1 deep slow breath. 
  • Brink a cup of water, coffee or tea mindfully. Here, you'll only focus on drinking your tea and live in the moment. 
  • Wear an elastic band on your wrist. When you feel your thoughts spiralling, gently snap the band on your wrist.
  • Pick a color and focus on all the objects of that color in the room you're in or in your surrounding.
  • Breathe mindfully. Feel each breath coming out from your chest and nose and feel it going in.

MIND ATTRIBUTION:  This technique helps you to come to terms with reality and shift focus from the intensity of your thoughts. For this method, you can -

              ● Imagine your mind as an another person saying the thoughts out loud.This way you can trivialize the thoughts you're having and realize you don't actually believe in these from the heart. 


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