You’ve got the power…to banish negative thoughts!

“Here is another plea for you to improve your mood, lower your stress and secondarily enjoy better health by actively using methods that are easy to learn and use. Elsewhere here I present articles of blood and saliva tests showing the change in levels of Interleukin 6, an inflammatory marker, by changing your thinking. Practice this daily. Give this information to young people as research shows we are most effective changing habits of thinking in young people.” Bill Chesnut, MD

You’ve got the power…to banish negative thoughts!  Cleveland Clinic Wellness newsletter.

Here’s a surprising fact: A typical person has about 60,000 thoughts every day. A whopping 95 percent of those are repeated daily. (It’s like Groundhog Day in your head!) Here’s the real surprise (not!): It turns out that many of those thoughts are negative. But habitual thought patterns, your mind’s way of dealing with life’s little annoyances and daily challenges, don’t have to define you. If you’re willing, you can actually change your thought patterns, which is really pretty cool. “When we meditate, we have the opportunity to experience our thoughts as passing events,” says Jennifer Hunter, LISW-S, Cleveland Clinic’s director of wellness, employer services. “We learn to distance ourselves from the content of the thought and simply observe it as it is happening, allowing it to pass,” she says. “This helps us to develop a vital skill — the ability to accept our thinking without judgment.”

Here’s what to do: When you find yourself having a negative thought, step back and call the thought what it is: a thinking habit. Acknowledge that you’re feeling stressed, and allow the thought to pass. Then, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “I wonder what my next thought will be?” The break will give you a moment to slow down your thinking and create pauses between thoughts. The key is to get to know your negative thought patterns and work on developing more beneficial ones. “You must take a moment to pause, breathe and step back from the thoughts that feel emotionally charged,” says Hunter. “Then come back to what you’re doing and enjoy the present moment.”