Some people use, thought suppression. Unfortunately, this method does not work. When you try to push thoughts out of mind, it only makes them come back stronger. It’s a very frustrating finding, but often replicated again and again.
So, what alternatives exist to stop negative thoughts?
What is your way to win negative thoughts?
1. Write your negative thoughts
Expressive writing is the writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings. It has been tested extensively and does have various health and psychological benefits. Writing is commonly used in the cognitive-behavioral therapy , where you meet your thoughts and then change them. Write emotionally about yourself, as it may help to get rid of negative thoughts.
2. Face your negative thoughts
It seems paradoxical that focusing in on a thought might help it go away. However, some research suggests this can work. This principle is based on the long-established principle of ‘exposure therapy’. For example, arachnophobes are slowly but surely exposed to spiders, until the fear begins to fade. It means that you gradually learn to stand up for yourself in your abusive relationship and finally consider it as healthy and normal behaviour, but it all starts with your thinking. This approach is not for the faint-hearted, but can be useful to get rid of negative thoughts, for example obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour.
3. Postpone the negative thoughts until later
While, Postponing a thought until later can work while continuously trying to suppress it makes it come back stronger.
Some studies suggest that persistent anxious thoughts can be postponed, stopping their worrying until a designated 30-minute period. People find this works as a way of side-stepping thought suppression. What can you do? Save up all your negative thinking about your abusive boyfriend for a designated period and this may ease your mind the rest of the time. This will also help you to empower yourself, because you start focusing on your power.
4. Use focused distraction
It is the natural tendency when trying to get your mind off, to try and think about something else. In this way you distract yourself. Because the mind wanders around looking for new things to focus on, hopefully it will leave you in peace. So if you are preoccupied with your evening with your abusive boyfriend after his coming back home, focus on the moment that you are without him for a while and what you could do to escape from the trap of abuse. Concentrate on, say, a specific piece of music, a TV programme or a good thing that you will do for yourself.
Buddhist mindfulness meditation promotes an attitude of compassion and non-judgement towards the thoughts that flit through your mind. This may also be a helpful approach to eliminate negative thoughts. In other words, focus on what is happening to you at the specific moment. You can pay attention to your breath or body sensations, all the sounds, smells of your environment. Practice this technique when the abusive boyfriend is not around you, but you can also focus on your body sensation rather than him when he is there. Find a regular time to meditate and forget about the problem of abuse. During meditation you will often find some solutions and ideas to escape from the trap, it is just up to you if you want to take this step.
6. Accept your thoughts
There is some evidence that trying to accept unwanted thoughts, rather than doing battle with them can be beneficial. This principle states that what you focus on, grows. Trying to fight your negative thoughts will strengthen them. Just let them go, as clouds in the sky. You may not like them, but just acknowledge their presence. Doing so you can take another step – focus on other, positive thoughts. It needs some practice, but after some time you will be able to do so
Therefore, be aware that you are afraid of your abusive boyfriend, of changing your life, of the unknown, angry with him, wanting a revenge, trying to hide, escape – to mention only some of the most common thoughts of abuse victims.
7. Affirm yourself in positive way
Self-affirmation is the latest psychological cure-all. It involves thinking about your positive traits and beliefs and has been found to increase self-control, which is important skill for women facing abuse. This technique works best in writing, but you can also record your statements and listen when the abuser is not there. In more severe cases, when you have no space or means to start your new life, start from finding help and you can affirm your positive thoughts talking to the person on the helpline, like Samaritans in Ireland. Also, use the time when you are out with your friends (supposing that you can still do so) to affirm your positive statements, too.
What can you affirm? Start from empowering statements, e.g. “I am strong”, “I can handle it”. You can also describe the ideal picture of your relationship, family and life, without abuse and domestic violence.
Choose one tip from the mentioned above – self-affirming, writing, meditation, focused distraction, postponing the thought – and start using from right now for 30 consecutive days. After that time, check your progress. Good luck.