On the podcast this week I wanted to talk about negative thought cycles – you know, when you find yourself staring at the wall thinking one negative thought after another and feel utterly paralysed.
I recorded this a couple of weeks ago, before the coronavirus pandemic started, so it honestly wasn’t planned but I do feel like it’s good timing.
I’m sharing an example of when I found myself in a negative thought cycle and the steps I took to get myself out of it, from taking a shower to changing the narrative (and everything in between). If this is something you need to hear right now, give this week’s episode a listen.
You can listen wherever you get your podcasts or listen here:
Links and further reading:
- How to get out of a negative thought spiral (if you’d prefer a written version)
- Understanding the negativity bias
- Benefits of being self-aware
- Sas Petherick, Tara Mohr, Jen Carrington and Sara Tasker.
- How to build a self-belief evidence bank
- Subscribe to my newsletter to find out about my new coaching packages (and get a discount)
If you’ve ever found yourself staring into space with negative thoughts, spiraling and feeding off each other in your mind, you’re so not alone, and this episode is for you. I’ll be sharing an experience I had of this and exactly what I did to pull myself out of it. So we’ll talk about when this tends to happen and the steps that you need to take to pull yourself out of it. So if this sounds like something you could do with some support with, then keep on listening.
Hello everyone, hope you’ve all had a lovely week! Welcome back to the podcast. So today I wanna talk to you about negative thought cycles because they can be real time and energy sucks. When I find myself in one, I can lose hours of my day, completely unable to focus on anything else and I find, afterwards as well, I’m really exhausted and can’t bring myself to actually do anything. So yeah, not only do I lose the time thinking about the thing, I then feel knackered and can’t do much afterwards. So all round, not great.
So let’s talk about what a negative thought cycle is to start with. So a negative thought cycle tends to start with one thing, one little tiny thing that triggers a negative thought. And then your inner critic takes that thought and runs with it, leading to thought after thought after thought, until you find yourself completely spiraling and paralysed by fear.
So I want to give you a real life example of when I got well and truly stuck in a negative thought cycle, and I thought I would share the steps that I took to get myself out of it and how you can do the same.
So this was back when I was originally launching my coaching services, and I was launching them to my newsletter subscribers. And when I thought about the kind of response I would get from my newsletter subscribers, honestly? I had zero expectations. So I was fully not expecting to tell my subscribers about my new coaching offers and then immediately get a client from it. Coaching is a hell of an investment and it takes time for people to muse on the idea and come to a place where they feel ready to take that next step. So I was purely expecting tumbleweeds.
What I wasn’t expecting, however, was for people to actively say no or at least what felt like people actively saying no by unsubscribing, but this is what happened. So one person unsubscribed, then another, and then nothing. So it was actually just two people from my list of nearly 100 at the time, but of course my brain just latched onto those two and completely ignored the other 90+ subscribers who had stayed on the list.
And with this information, of course my inner critic had an absolute field day. It was running around, shouting about the fact that no one wanted to be sold to, no one wanted to hear from another coach, that I should probably quit, stop blogging, and just go back to being full time at my day job.
Inner critics are serious drama queens, right?
All of these thoughts took place within around 10 minutes, and I was just seriously paralysed and I couldn’t think of anything else. But I did manage to turn it around and this is what I did to do that.
So the first thing that I did was I became really aware of what was happening. When the thought about quitting everything, especially, came up, something deep down sat up and took notice and kind of said to me, like tapped me on the shoulder almost and said, “Seriously? Kat? Come on. This is ridiculous.” And I noticed that these thoughts weren’t coming from my true self, they were just coming from fear. And I really think the only reason that I was able to acknowledge this and become aware of this was because of the self development work I’ve done over the years. So listening to and reading work from experts in the self doubt world alongside self awareness practices like meditation and journaling, all really helped put me in a good position to be able to recognise what was happening.
So what I would recommend here for you is to raise your awareness. Find a practice that helps you to be more self aware, whether that’s walking, writing, making art, or even going to therapy. Follow people who know their shit about this and learn from them. I can really recommend Sas Petherick, Tara Mohr, Jen Carrington, and Sara Tasker, who all provide really great content on all of this stuff.
So once I’d realised what was happening, I took a really deep breath and said to myself, out loud, “stop.” I got up from my seat and I went and took a shower. I just needed to do something physical to change my thought process. I needed something to pull me out of where I was mentally.
So for you, I would suggest finding your own stopping technique. See what helps you move out of this mental space. And I do find changing your environment can really help as you’re getting into your body and away from the situation where the thought started from. So this is why I think a lot of people recommend going out for a walk and even things like repeating affirmations or calling someone, it just changes your mindset into something different. Basically, anything that can pull you away from the situation that you’re in.
The next step, for me, was to become a bit of a detective and question my thoughts and gather some evidence. So here’s when I looked at the facts: two people unsubscribed. Two people out of 90+ on my list – I can’t remember the exact number, but something around that – and that does not mean that no one wants to hear from me! It means that two people don’t want to hear from me. So I delved back into my self belief evidence bank of comments and emails and messages and other words of support from my audience. I checked back in with my ‘why’ and my mission behind what I’m doing and I showed all of these things to my inner critic. I showed my inner critic all the evidence to help it pipe down.
So if you have your own evidence bank, call upon it now, and if now, make one. Fill a folder or a notebook or a photo album on your phone with words of support from others. Take some screenshots, save emails, write things down. Just having this stuff to hand is like having a secret weapon. And if you wanna know a bit more about that, I do have a blog post about building your own self belief evidence bank, so I’ll make sure to include a link to that in the shownotes.
Now the last thing I did was accept a different narrative. This is the trickiest bit of the process and I think it’s the bit that people don’t tend to talk about. So I was feeling a bit better after changing my situation, going for a shower, about gathering evidence in mind against my inner critic, but something deeper was really niggling at me. And that was the fact that some people just don’t want to hear from here, for whatever reason. And that is totally okay! So people pleasing is something I’m truthfully still working on. So this point in the process felt a lot stickier than the others and I really had to sit with the knowledge that not everyone likes what I have to say., Before launching, I had done so much work on my own narrative of ‘coaching is a great move and people will like it’ that I had to take a little time to sit back and accept a different narrative that ‘coaching is a great move, but it won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay.’
So I guess my last suggestion here is for you to look at your narratives that are going on. Once you’re feeling more connected to yourself away from the negative thoughts, try and examine why you reacted the way you did. Can you work on feeling comfortable with a different narrative?
So since that spiral, I have of course had multiple people unsubscribe from my newsletter list and multiple people subscribe to my newsletter list. I’m learning that with every single unsubscribe I’m getting closer to my right audience, and, more importantly, I don’t look at unsubscribes every time they come up anymore. Instead, I just choose to look at my subscriber numbers month on month and see how it’s doing, get a general idea of how things are going. And I honestly think the reason I was able to so quickly move past this negative thought spiral was because I had a cushion of self worth to fall back on. I was able to lovingly communicate with my inner critic because, deep down, I know that it’s really only trying to protect me and that I’m worthy of following my dreams, despite the fears that come up along the way.
So with that in mind, I do wanna remind you that if you need some support in fluffing up your self worth cushion, this is exactly what I wanna help people with through my coaching. And I am going to be changing my packages and relaunching them on the 30th of March, and I’m gonna be offering my newsletter subscribers an introductory discount, so if you are interested, sign up before my next newsletter goes out, which is the 29th March 2020 And, if you decide it’s not for you, and you want to unsubscribe, I promise I won’t take it personally! If anything, hopefully from the episode you’ve learned that I now no longer take these things personally and I understand that it’s not right for everybody and that’s totally okay.
But that’s all I have for you this week. I hope it was helping! Do let me know if you have any tricks for getting out of negative thought cycles yourself. Get in touch over on Instagram, I’ve over @katbluejay over there and I’ll be back next week to talk about your brand of treacle. And I promise that’ll make more sense next week! Until then, though, I hope you have a really good week and take care.