As a difficult situation arises, do not obsess over it like the vast majority of people do. Don’t give it any attention. Attention is energy. Your attention you place onto any situation, which starts as an initial thought, gets more energy and grows as long as you obsess over it. It is like feeding a fire with gasoline. Or rolling a snowball down a hill. Your thoughts expand through your mind the more you heed them. It will just burn hotter and hotter. That is easier said than done right? One well known psychology study showed that when a subject was asked not to think of a pink elephant, the only thing he/she thought of was that pink elephant. It will take time, but you should grow to control your thoughts.
When the negative thoughts do cross your mind, you have a choice, either ignore them if you can, or divert them, or gloss them over, or surrender to them. The point is just never get stuck in them.
Interrupt your brain from negative patterns of thinking immediately as they arise. We will discuss strategies about this as we go along. You should have a list of “weapons” for catching your mind from snowballing. Bad thoughts are like expanding darkness. You cannot destroy darkness except with light. The more you think about darkness, the darker a situation will get. You cannot overcome dark thoughts and unhappy memories by talking through them. But if you try to shine light onto the darkness, the dark thoughts will disappear, and the light will come from conscious living and a healthy consciousness…and right thinking.
For example, say you are remember a painful moment in your past, like a classic example of being fired from your job and having the entire office glare at you as you packed up your box with embarrassment, shame, and then left. When negative thoughts like this arise, shift the memory to a pleasant one where you did something great for someone at another one of your jobs, and your boss there commended you and praised you. Or put on an old song which reminds you of when you kissed your first girlfriend. Go and watch the sunset. Anything but just sinking down and reliving the painful past moment, which is gone, and which you cannot change, and which nobody is thinking about anyways except for you.
So if a depressing memory does arise, it won’t work if someone just tells you “Don’t think about it! Just forget it!” You may only obsess about it more, and all the downsides of what happened to you. You may ruminate on how you can get back at your boss or co-workers, which is an even darker (and dangerous) thought. Think back on all those workplace shootings in the news. All of them started with a negative thought! That negative thought propelled itself to a negative emotion, which then continued to expand until it became an actual action.
But if you bring positive awareness to your painful memory, that it was a learning experience, and that another door must open (a closed door always leads to an open door), a gleaming consciousness to the situation will arise, then the clouds will lift away, and the darkness will be replaced by light.
Two of the ways I personally use is through prayer and meditation about any negative thoughts that arise. There are so many things you can do when you feel a negative mood swing coming or an uncomfortable memory arising. The main thing is to do SOMETHING. When a negative thought enters your mind, it is like walking into quicksand or a mud bog. You had better do something quickly before you are overcome!
When you go deep and deeper into prayer and meditation as one possible and effective solution, there will come a point when the problems just stop because you are no longer giving the negative thoughts any energy. Your mind is still, and not focusing on negative or depressing thoughts. You go on looking for it, but it is not there anymore at all. Your consciousness is just so aware and you gain an impartial stance that the problems cannot surface anymore. Your grave worries and problems are just like static when you turn on and off the television.