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Battling Negative Thinking in Bipolar Disorder

Alphabet Block minusThe cyclical nature of bipolar disorder often leaves me wondering, “Which comes first, the depression or the negative thoughts?”

Negative thinking can have a devastating impact on one’s life. For me, it’s a personal hell. My co-workers and friends rarely notice anything is wrong; I keep it to myself, but with because I keep it to myself, it is hard to cope.

The  more I rehash negative thoughts and feelings about myself in my head, the more likely I am to feel sad and anxious.

Learning How to Combat Negative Thoughts

After years of physical and mental symptoms due to my negative thoughts, I started seeing a therapist.

Eventually, I found the essential Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and with that, I began to write down my negative thoughts, examine them, and work to change them.

I have been working on my negative thoughts for a long time, but sometimes, the only way to get my negative thoughts to dissipate is to distract myself. Here are some ways to distract:

  • Imagine your favorite place or setting (e.g., a beach scene or a warm coffee shop)
  • Order something in your mind (e.g., count things on the wall or list all of the concerts you’ve been to, in order)
  • Disengage your thoughts and engage with someone else (e.g., call your sister or start a conversation with a co-worker)
  • Write your negative thoughts down. Cross them out, and throw them away.
  • Try your best to think of the positive parts of your given situation. Begin training your brain to see the upside.
  • Watch a television show or funny movie.
  • Engage in vigorous exercise.

It’s one thing to distract, but what if the negative thoughts keep coming? I have been dealing with anxiety and depression due to negative thoughts and self esteem issues for nearly 15 years. I have improved greatly, sure, but it still feels as if I’m in a cage, prisoner to my fear and lack of confidence.

Eventually, I am drained. My brain feels like a hamster on a wheel. Just thinking exhausts me. I’m overworking my mind, causing deficits in other areas.

Even worse, once a negative thought pattern develops, the longer it lasts, the harder it becomes to break. Like I said, after years of therapy, I am still quite a negative thinker.

I notice that it keeps me more limited than I’d like.

I’m trying to turn things around, because negativity stifles my potential. It stifles all of us. It keeps us from being the people we are intended to be. I am holding myself back.

Some of my positive thoughts goals:

  • Participate regularly in mediation and yoga. -Mindfulness is a great way to manage negative thoughts. The mind is supposed to live in the present moment. Combined with the physical practice of yoga, negative thoughts are better tamed.
  • Be grateful. -This is a practice that works. I have been writing down what I’m grateful for for years. It has allowed me to recall things I am grateful for reach day. Gratitude allows us to reflect on what we have, instead of what we don’t. This can help lift mood and combat negative thoughts.
  • Forgive myself. -I need to stop dwelling on past mistakes and  issues. I define who I am in the present, and I need to learn to accept who I am.


Do you live with regular negative thoughts? How do you cope, and what have you learned? 



Stop Dwelling on Negative Thoughts –Happify 

10 Tips to Overcome Negative Thoughts 


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LEOL30 via Compfight


Battling Negative Thinking in Bipolar Disorder

Kat Dawkins

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APA Reference
Dawkins, K. (2013). Battling Negative Thinking in Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Dec 2013
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