Negative Thought Spirals + Manifestation
“How do I get my negative thoughts under control before they affect my manifestation? I have anxiety and I find myself getting sucked down into negative thoughts. The more I try to “think positive” and stay high vibe, the more anxious I become and the more I spiral. I’ve tried using affirmations and looking on the bright side but it doesn’t work. Am I going to start manifesting these thoughts? Please help!”
If you find yourself worrying that the law of attraction/manifestation won’t work for you because you get into negative thought spirals – you’re not alone. This is so common! I myself suffer from anxiety and have suffered depression in the past. Whilst I would like to stay “high vibe” all the time, it’s simply not realistic for me, or for anyone to do so.
I can assure you that we’re all human – even the most Zen, blissed out high vibe gurus out there have the odd grumble over a parking ticket, a bad day at work, or dealing with someone difficult in our lives.
Our daily lives are comprised of a lot of moving parts where our vibe is moving up and down all day long depending on what we’re doing. Now, if we tried to control all of these thoughts and think positively about everything our brains would be cooked before we even got to work. At least, mine would.
Our thoughts are simply a reflection of where we’re focusing, and our point of focus is set by our subconscious mind and the beliefs we store there which help us interpret the world around us.
SO ... whilst it’s a good idea to pay attention to our thoughts as an indicator for where we may be focusing, to give us clues about our beliefs, or the direction of our vibration and energy – the good news is that an individual grumbly thought likely isn’t going to impact our manifestation.
Did you know that 97% of the thoughts we have are the same ones we had yesterday? Sometimes things pop into our heads because they popped up yesterday for no reason. So when a thought pops up in your mind, rather than getting caught up in the thoughts, trying to change them, pay attention to the feeling.
Disclaimer: The content on this site is in no way intended to substitute medical, professional, or psychological advice or therapy and is for information and educational purposes only.
What are ruminating/intrusive thoughts?
Rumination is a common symptom of anxiety and depression. This is where we latch onto a thought in our minds, usually one that is anchored in fear or a feeling of inadequacy, and we swirl it around in our brains on an endless loop without coming to any conclusion.
This works because of the way our brains are wired. In other posts I’ve talked about our neural pathways – information superhighways in our brain that link like things together – sort of like our own “internal law of attraction”. Like attracts like! So, when we think a thought like “I can’t do anything right!” – our brain finds the feeling we attach most commonly to that thought, as well as pulling up all the other times we expressed that thought and felt that way.
This reinforces that thought and with time, and with enough entrenching in our minds, that thought becomes a belief.
What you resist persists
This is a law of attraction tenet I wholly believe in: what you resist persists.
In other words, trying to resist a “negative” thought or emotion by just “thinking positive”, affirming, or trying to suppress it or force your vibe, can be the worst thing you can do.
The more you try to push against a negative thought, the more intrusive it becomes. This is because you are still focusing on the thought: you’re just trying to “stack” positive thinking on top of it.
It doesn’t work firstly because the Universe knows that it’s bullshit. Also, it’s not responding to your thoughts: it’s responding to your energy – which comes from the beliefs you carry inside you and the resulting emotions you are emitting.
If you’re carrying strong emotion around anxiety or the way you’re feeling about a thought, unfortunately those neural pathways stay firing.
Whether they affect our manifestations or not, getting caught on a runaway train of negative thought is never fun and can bring our vibe down.
It’s time to get off that treadmill!
Let’s delve into how.
Emotion indicates your point of attraction
Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a meditation, my Ego gets upset because I’m not paying it any attention and likes to remind me of that really awkward thing I said at a party two years ago and what if that person got offended and now they think terribly of me. And what if they went around to everyone and told them about that awkward thing I said. And now they’re all talking about what a terrible person I must be for saying that thing. And they probably don’t all even like me. And then this leads to the thought “I’m so socially awkward”. And THEN now I get the back catalogue of all the embarrassing things Rhiannon ever said.
All with the speed of a super computer.
See how quickly it happens?
BUT – when I woke up that morning listening to a motivational audio, and I’ve drank my 1 L of water and done some yoga, internally I feel like a rockstar. My emotions are buzzing.
You wouldn’t think that thought would come up but it does.
However, because I’m on such a good buzz, it’s easy to manage that thought using a technique I’ll talk more about in a minute. I use the technique, and carry right on with my meditation.
And I manifest awesome things that day: like all green traffic lights, the perfect parking spot, and a lovely interaction with my neighbour.
This is because your THOUGHTS themselves don’t necessarily influence your manifestations. Rather, our emotions are the indicator for your point of attraction. When we have a thought, or a train of thought, and start to feel emotions because of that thought, what we make that emotion mean to us (based on our beliefs) does affect your energy and can, with time, affect your vibration.
Rather than trying to clamp down on every thought you have throughout the day, I believe it’s a wonderful thing to cultivate emotional awareness. That is, observing and acknowledging the way that you’re feeling at a particular time, without judgement or trying to alter it.
This is because even our emotions, in and of themselves, AREN’T good or bad – it’s what we are making them MEAN (i.e. our belief about them) that is the energetic indicator.
Did you know that excitement and anxiety feel exactly the same in our bodies? It’s the meaning we assign to them in our minds that lets us know whether we’re elated about attending a Lady Gaga concert or weak kneed in terror about getting called into our boss’s office.
The most important thing to do when you start to notice a train of thoughts spiralling in your mind, rather than trying to dissect each one, is to check in and ask yourself “How do I feel physically? How do I feel emotionally?”
You might find the answer being “I feel a little dizzy, cold, and sweaty. I feel anxious.”
Just for now, what if it was okay to feel that emotion, knowing that it will pass? (Because it absolutely will. No emotion will last forever.)
Try this one:
“I am feeling X right now and it’s okay!”
Lovingly work through the emotion and tend to soothing your heart lovingly, knowing the emotions/thoughts will pass in their own time.
The Scarlett O’Hara Technique
I love the book/movie Gone With the Wind and when I first saw the movie, I was in my darkest days with anxiety and depression. Scarlett O’Hara, the lead character, had a saying and technique for dealing with her thoughts when they started to spiral into despair. She would say:
“I can’t think about that now… I’ll think about it tomorrow.”
The thing is, tomorrow would never come. You never saw Scarlett, in that entire 4+ hour movie, sit down and sink deep into all her worrisome thoughts.
She didn’t think to herself that the thought was bad, or that she shouldn’t be thinking it. She didn’t even resolve to never think it again. She allocated it time when she thought she would have a moment to think about it.
It resonated with me because my therapist at the time had suggested a “worry window” – a time in my schedule that I would set aside specifically to worry about things. By the time I got to the designated appointment in my week to sit and worry, I felt my time was better spent painting, listening to music, or hanging out with my pets.
I suggest the same: when you observe a thought that seems to want to hang around, don’t try to judge it or suppress it. Acknowledge that it’s there and say to your Ego:
“Thank you for your input. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”
The Evidence Bank
To try and slow down the momentum of those hardwired neural pathways that lead to the thought spirals, consciously build an evidence bank of times when everything turned out beautifully.
For instance, if you carry a belief that “new beginnings are scary”, it’s helpful to think about times in your life where you were nervous to start a new job, at a new school, or move to a new home, and everything turned out wonderfully.
If you get really stuck, it can be helpful to ask friends or family you trust for help to recall those times. This helps to jolt you out of that auto-loop and reinforce neural pathways with positive outcomes.
We get a little bit worked up and excited about our thoughts creating our reality and in the process we think that unless we are thinking the most positive, high vibe thoughts, it’s not going to work out.
BUT we already know that trying to “force” a positive thought in place of a negative one sometimes doesn’t work if we’re on a runaway train of yucky thoughts, which just creates more resistance and frustration.
The good news is that this is a misconception when it comes to manifestation and the law of attraction.
All you need to do is slow the momentum of that runaway train, and to do that, you have to meet it where it’s at. In other words, rather than trying to stop the train by building a barricade of positive thoughts, it’s often more effective to get on the train and try and slow it down by adding less coal to the burner.
Our vibration exists on a spectrum, where feelings like shame and guilt are the lowest vibration and feelings like enlightenment are the highest possible vibration. If you catch yourself in a thought that doesn’t feel good, all you need to do is choose a less “icky” thought - you don’t have to go right to the thought at the top of the spectrum that feels untrue.
This is a common technique in cognitive behavioural therapy, which encourages pausing to think objectively about the situation. This in itself can be enough to slow that runaway train right down, so you can incorporate other techniques to pull it safely into the station. It helps to break the habitual pattern of disordered thinking we can sometimes fall into, especially if we have anxiety or depressive symptoms, and over time it creates new patterns of thinking.
Is this really true?
If I said this to my best friend, what would they have to say?
If I could choose a thought that made me feel [even the tiniest bit] better, what would it be?
What is another way I could look at this?
If I could choose to look at this with love, how would I look at it?
If I could choose a kinder thought, what would it be?
Sometimes, it can be helpful when we catch ourselves thinking an “icky” thought to get it out on paper and really look at it, and then write our responses to it. I share my routine for doing this in my Manifestation Journaling Routine post. When it’s on paper instead of in your head it can be easier to be more objective.
A final word about this: This takes practice, so don’t worry. You don’t need to pick apart every thought, but if you feel like you’re vibing low and feeling gross, check in with yourself and pay attention to what’s going on in your thoughts. Over time, as you do this, your intuition begins to whisper: Choose again.
Come back to your breath
When learning to meditate the most helpful thing I was taught is that everybody has thoughts that pop up at the most inconvenient times: and this includes while you’re trying to meditate and think about nothing.
Meditation doesn’t work because you’re sitting on your mat thinking about nothing.
It works because it teaches you to practice dealing with thoughts in a non-judgmental and relaxed way. The better practice you get at simply allowing those thoughts to come and go without attachment the easier it is to allow them to pass us by.
My meditation teacher taught me that it was normal to have a sudden influx of anxious thoughts. Rather than trying to not think them, or just get rid of them, or telling myself anxiously “think about nothing, think about nothing” which led to “I’m not doing this right. I can’t do this”, she said to just let the thoughts be there and they will go away on their own.
In the meantime, she said “come back to your breath”. Focus on your breath.
When you feel yourself getting carried away on a train of thought you don’t want to be on, come back to your breath (whether you’re meditating or not). Start to practice box breathing. It’s amazing how effective this is and how automatic it becomes. Once you’ve centered again, you’ll notice that your heart rate has slowed, your emotions are becoming more neutralised, and you can re-choose where you focus.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you cannot “stack” affirmations on top of negative thoughts to change your state. Whilst you may take them in on a conscious level, subconsciously the same patterns will largely still be firing in your neural pathways. You’ll know this is true because if you say a statement like “I am wealthy and rich” when you’re broke, you will actually feel a sharp, heavy resistance in your gut.
I do believe that affirmations have their place in the process of re-calibrating the conscious and the subconscious and even in soothing our minds during periods of resistance or difficulty. Used the right way, with intent and focus, I find the following useful and effective to say (out loud and with soothing and certainty) when I find myself caught in an unhelpful thought loop. They don’t feel forced and bullshit, but help me to re-calibrate my point of focus to a more helpful and resourceful place.
Try some of these on and use only the ones that feel true and right for you.
I am feeling x right now, and it’s okay.
This too shall pass.
It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.
I am feeling x and I will express and work through it with grace and allow it to pass in its natural course.
It’s only a thought. I don’t have to believe that it’s true.
Every day I find ways to take care of my body, mind, and spirit and feel delicious, no matter what goes on around me.
I am willing to lovingly surrender to the Universe, knowing that I am always being supported and guided. Universe, show me the way through!
Decide to be high vibe anyway! Not because you may or may not manifest something, but because you’re here, now, and every moment is an opportunity to feel good.
Without trying to make the negative thought spiral go away, or trying to suppress the emotion, ask yourself:
“What can I do that would feel delicious for my mind, body and spirit right now?”
And go and do it!!!
It’s amazing how finger licking good it feels to do the most delicious thing you can do right now.
If you’re at work – maybe it’s listening to the radio, doing the work task you most enjoy, or sharing a joke with a close co-worker. If I’m at home and I need to feel amazing, no matter what else is going on in my life, I can sink deep into a hot bath, give myself a sugar scrub, and bliss out with my favourite tunes – or I can hit the pavement and go for a good, blood circulating walk.
The most important thing for you to do is to take good self care. Keep reminding yourself of what you’re calling in, keep up with the manifestation processes (e.g. gratitude, journaling, or meditating) that feel good to you, and make it your #1 priority to do what feels good for your body and spirit. Remind yourself of the times you’ve overcome obstacles in the past – you’ve got this!
Walks in the sunshine, healing foods, dancing, funny movies, reading back through my gratitude journal, and spending time with the people I love most are my favourite ways to take good care of myself.
You’ll find that naturally, with nary a forced vibe or thought in sight, your thoughts and emotions will start to shift and uplift on their own.
“I’m scared my anxiety and negative thinking will affect my manifestation” is one of the most common fears people share with me about the law of attraction. Rest assured that a grumbling thought or a not so pleasant experience is normal and part of human life – and it really doesn’t have to affect your point of attraction at all. The tools I shared above are all tools I have personally used with success to allow thoughts and emotions to pass through me in their own time, without affecting my point of attraction, and I trust they will serve you too.
I go further into how to make the law of attraction work for you – no vision board required – in my free eCourse, Core. If you haven’t already, I’d love you to come along and join us. It’s so effective and important to everything else I teach that I’ve made it available free for my mailing list subscribers. Fill in the form below to enrol and get started right away!
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