As a coach and mentor, I often hear from my clients, “I wish I could control my mind,” wanting to stop negative thinking or feeling. Yet, this perspective can often increase frustration, anxiety or even depression, and make things worse. The truth of the matter is that you can’t completely control either. And trying not to think of something, called the “Ironic Process Theory,” or trying to suppress thoughts can make them more likely to reoccur.
In the book, The Happiness Trap, author Russ Harris says 80% of our thoughts contain negative content. In her book, The Happiness Track, Emma Seppälä explained why negative thoughts come into our minds as a process by which our brain’s habit of being negative as a protective and defensive process. As a result, she says, “We have such a strong propensity to favor negativity that we have a skewed vision of reality.”