Why you can't just ask your mind to stop negative thoughts

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Just stop

In so many articles that i have read i came across the popular advice many people give which is asking the mind to stop the negative emotions or unwanted thoughts.

Many people believe that by just telling your mind to stop thinking negatively or worrying it can actually respond but this is very far from the truth.

In my previous article emotions are just messages i said that the mind only sends us negative emotions when it believes that those emotions can help us do something useful.

If for example your mind wants you to get prepared to an exam it might then send you emotions of worrying in order to motivate you to study. Now what if your mind ,which wants you to study well, sent you a message but instead of responding you just asked it to stop?

Won't that be very confusing to the mind?
And apart from confusion, will that method ever work?
The short answer is : of course no. When you ask your mind to stop sending you a signal without actually responding to the signal then your mind will ignore your order to stop.

This is exactly why no one ever succeeded in ending worrying or negative emotions by just asking the mind to stop. See Those methods will never help you stop worrying

The right way to stop those negative thoughts

Many people argue by saying that the mind sometimes sends wrong messages that are not needed and that's perfectly right. Your mind can actually worry about something that will never happen and might actually imagine negative scenarios that are far from the truth.

And while that's a solid fact still asking the mind to stop won't help since the mind believes in those scenarios even though they are very unrealistic.

So what's the soloution in such a case?
The solution here is finding out why the mind believed in those negative scenarios in the first place. In other words this problem can be fixed by learning how to fix your perception so that your mind doesn't send you false alarms.

Once the alarm is triggered stopping it will not be possible using this method but if you learned how to prevent the alarm from firing in the wrong moments then you will only get healthy warnings.

Your perception of events strongly affects your emotions and your thoughts. Once you see things in a certain way all kinds of negative thoughts can suddenly appear and your emotions can turn very negative. See How perception affects the behaviour.

So let's suppose that you worry often about something. In such a way you need to understand the mechanisms in your brain that force you to see things from a negative angle and as a result promote worrying. See also Thinking strategies that lead to worrying

Dealing with the false alarm

Even if the false alarm was fired already you can still deal with it using the proper way. Trying to shutdown the alarm without communicating with your mind is like trying to shutdown your computer without knowing which key to press.

By learning how to communicate with your subconscious mind, through self talk, you will be able to exchange meaningful messages that can tell you more about the real fears of your subconscious mind. See How to negotiate with your subconscious mind.

Many of the negative emotions and bad thoughts we get are just the direct result of not being able to understand the intentions of our subconscious minds.

Once those intentions are understood a two way communication can happen between the conscious and the subconscious mind in the form of self talk and this in turn can lead to resolution of the problem.

This is why asking your mind to stop a negative emotion is a total nonsense.

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