We all experience negative thoughts and anxiety at some level, but what do you do when you can’t control them? Is it even possible to control them? For years, science didn’t understand how negative thoughts formed in our brains. Also, most of the treatment surrounding the control of negative thoughts revolved around learning skills to control the thoughts, or using prescribed and unprescribed drugs.

Isolating the power behind negative thinking

However, The Sacramento Bee reports that researchers announced that they have isolated and identified the chemical in our brain responsible for controlling our negative thoughts.

Dr. Michael Anderson, a professor at the University of Cambridge, said the amino acid GABA is what controls the flow of negative thoughts in our mind. When GABA levels are low, it is easier for the thoughts to be prevalent in our minds. GABA stands for Gamma-aminobutyric acid.

Good news for positive thinking

While there is no immediate treatment coming from the discovery, it does point researchers in the right direction. Now they can explore ways to increase or maintain the levels of GABA in the brain. This is exciting news for people who suffer from anxiety caused by continuous negative thoughts. People such as veterans, public safety members, victims of crime, and others who have witnessed traumatic events often have issues controlling their negative thoughts.

They often suffer from anxiety, PTSD, depression, and suicidal thoughts. The discovery might allow researchers to develop treatments to supplement the counseling these patients receive.

What you can do control your negative thoughts

Until researchers develop this knowledge into a usable treatment, there are other ways you can control negative thoughts.

According to Psychology Today, Dr. Patricia Harteneck recommends seven strategies when dealing with negative thoughts.

  • Understand our brain often distorts our memories. We can remember things as being worse than they actually were, see things from only a negative point of view, blame ourselves for almost anything, or assume the worst of everything.
  • Dr. Harteneck suggests challenging these distortions when they occur. In other words, question their accuracy.
  • Tell yourself you won’t think about anything negative for a small amount of time, like 5-10 minutes. Often, when the time is up, the negative thoughts have disappeared and it is easier to continue with your day.
  • Don’t judge others or compare yourself to them. We tend to do so negatively.
  • Take a moment to be grateful for the positive in your life.
  • Focus on the things about yourself that make you proud.
  • If you just can’t seem to control your negative thoughts, seek professional help. Some people do best when speaking about their negative thoughts with a trained counselor.