Squish Negative Thinking With a Simple Child’s Tool

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Karyn Connor

© Carrie De Simas

Karyn Connors

Senior Editor @ GoneWithTheWord

We all know that sound. The little voice in our heads that questions a word choice, whispers that perhaps the scene isn’t going well, suggests that perhaps this manuscript we’re working on is never going to capture the vision in our heads.

Whether it’s a tiny whisper, or a full out scream, every writer I have ever met has encountered these negative thoughts from time to time.

But what to do about it?

Then I discovered something so simple and so effective, I could almost hear that negative little voice whimpering in neglect. Now, whenever I hear that nagging little voice in my head, questioning or criticizing, I resort to a parenting trick my husband and I use for our toddler.

The time out.

When done well, a time out for children is not supposed to be a punishment, especially at the young age of two and a half. What it is supposed to be, is a moment to calm down, to gather some self-control and then recommence the activity at hand.

Now, when my thoughts flitter to negativity I employ the same tactic. In moments where I replay a conversation in my head, trying to edit out the parts where I fumbled my words; where I question whether I will ever be as good at my job as my self-expectations demand, etc.—those are the moment I put myself on a mental time out.

Does this mean I go and sit in a chair by myself for a preset amount of time? No. What I do is acknowledge the negative thought and tell myself ‘no’. Then I move my thoughts to a calmer and happier place. It’s a kind of mini meditation.

For me, this means a tropical beach with warm sand and a cold drink. Or my son’s smile and laughter. Or my husband’s playful smirk right before…well, you get the idea.

Negative thoughts can be helpful in identifying areas of insecurity that we can work on, but they can also lead to poor decisions based on fear or self-doubt. They can inhibit you from following a dream or desire. They can increase your stress, anxiety, insomnia and blood pressure.  

So next time negative thoughts hit, try a time out. Might be the best few minutes of your day.

#BeBold, by Karyn Connor is available noweBook and Paperback

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