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Three Exercises for Overcoming the Negative Thought Patterns that Trigger Anger

Today we welcome Rebecca Eanes, author and positive parenting educator, who has a new workbook she's just released that gives you practical exercises to become the positive parent you'd like to be. The following excerpt comes from her new workbook and teaches about changing negative thought patterns. You don't have to be held hostage by habitual negative thoughts! With practice your thought patterns can change (I know from experience).These exercises will give you a way to change negative thinking.  ~Alissa

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Overcoming the Negative Thought Patterns that Trigger Anger

An Excerpt From the Positive Parenting Workbook by Rebecca Eanes

Do negative thoughts plague your days? I’m so exhausted. I can’t do this. Why do I never get a break? Why is she pushing my buttons today? Why can’t my partner be more like that person? Everyone has negative thoughts from time to time, but if you have them on constant loop, it’s negatively affecting your life and your relationships.

Your thoughts affect how you treat those around you. These thoughts can make you irritable, combative, and easily angered. Negative thoughts can leave you explosive, making it impossible to be the calm, happy parent you want to be.

Lots of parents struggle with anger, but what is at the root? It’s easy to blame the kids for pushing our buttons, but the truth is that our reactions and outbursts are our responsibility to manage. Thoughts and emotions are always intertwined, driving one another. By controlling our thoughts, we also gain control over our emotional responses. Thankfully, studies have shown that we can rewire our brains, creating new neural networks that override preexisting ones. The way to build new neural networks is to go off the beaten path – to choose a new, positive thought every time a negative one arises.

But there’s another benefit to this as well. As we learn to become more positive and calm, so do our children. The improved attitude and smiling face that will naturally emerge from being more positive will improve the very atmosphere of your home. As you learn to beat back the toxic thoughts that leave you frustrated and worn out, you’ll find that you are a more joyful, engaged, and peaceful parent.

So, how do we change our thought patterns?

Here are three exercises from The Positive Parenting Workbook to get your started down the path of positive thinking.

Exercise 1: Identify your most frequent thought patterns. Spend some time today just noticing your thoughts. When you’re standing at the sink washing up after dinner, waiting in line, or sitting in traffic, notice the thoughts that are swirling around in your mind. Write them in a journal or just on a sheet of paper.

Exercise 2: For each negative thought in the preceding exercise, write a more productive, positive thought. This is an exercise in re-framing – or looking at the situation in a different light. For example, if the recurring thought is this kid is always pitching a fit, a more productive thought might be my child is having a hard time with being patient and needs my help.

Exercise 3: Work on stopping your persistent negative thought every single time you have it and thinking the more productive, positive thought instead. You may find it helpful to record your progress over a 21-day period, which is approximately the length of time it takes to build a new habit. The book provides a chart on which to do this. Try to consistently challenge those negative thoughts for twenty-one consecutive days and note how much more calm you feel.

Rebecca Eanes

Rebecca Eanes is the creator of Positive Parents and author of The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, and her new book, The Positive Parenting Workbook which is an interactive guide for any parent who wants to foster emotional connection in place of yelling, nagging, and power struggles.