Have you ever found yourself consumed with negative thoughts? It starts with a negative feeling or maybe with a couple of words spoken by someone else. And then it starts to pull you down.
If you easily get caught in worry, anxiety, stress, or depression with low self-worth, you’re probably familiar with the symptoms you’ve experienced firsthand. Negativity can have a detrimental impact on important aspects of your life, including health, work, and relationships. It can distract you from focusing on what’s important, prevent you from enjoying life, and drain your energy.
The good news is that with willingness and dedicated practice, you can replace negativity with thoughts that help. Try applying these seven tips to lessen and manage your negative thoughts:
1. Learn to Identify Thought Distortions
Our minds have their clever way of convincing us of something that isn’t actually true. These faulty thoughts reinforce negative thinking. If you know how to recognize them, you can also learn to combat them. Here are some common thought distortions.
- Black and White Thinking: It’s the act of seeing everything in one way or another, without any in-between.
- Filter thinking: Choosing to look only at the negative side of the situation.
- Catastrophizing: You always tend to think of the worst possible outcome.
- Personalizing: It’s when you blame yourself for anything that goes wrong. Even simple acts like when a friend did not smile at you and you thought you probably did something to upset her. But it’s more likely that your friend is having a hard day, and her mood had nothing to do with you.
2. Counter Negative Thoughts with Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations can be used in a number of different ways. One way to develop them is by saying an affirmation as soon as you feel a negative thought crosses your mind. For example, you’re looking to find a new partner using the Law of Attraction, but you find yourself thinking that you don’t deserve love. In this instance, tell yourself that “I am a valuable person; I deserve to be loved, and I will find a great relationship.”
By saying affirmations to yourself every day, you are helping reshape your thinking and making them a powerful tool to challenge negativity. Set your affirmations carefully, and try to recite them in front of the mirror while making eye contact with yourself.
3. Avoid External Negativity
Take steps to avoid things or people in your life that hurt the way you think and feel. Although it’s not always possible if these particular people are your family members, you can always avoid engaging in a downward spiraling conversation. Learn to acknowledge their remarks and move on.
Nowadays, news and social media can also strongly influence our feelings and thinking. Make sure to unfollow people and social media accounts that are unhelpful and combative. There is a fine line between being socially aware and psychologically connected to gloom and doom, so be mindful of how much news you take in daily.
4. Take a Break
One way to separate yourself from negativity is to allow yourself a specified period (no more or less than 10 minutes) with the negative thought. Then, take a break from this negative thinking and move on with your day. This habit will slowly but surely train your mind to manage and, eventually, phase out negative thinking.
5. Practice Feeling Grateful
Research shows that feeling grateful has a positive influence on your levels of happiness. Even when you are feeling down, you can always find simple things to be thankful for. Knowing that there are things around you that are going well can make you feel happy. It’s a good practice to keep a gratitude journal and write a few good thoughts on it daily.
6. Focus on Your Strength
The more you try to focus on your strengths instead of dwelling on mistakes you’ve made in the past, the easier it will be to have a positive outlook in life. If you catch yourself thinking of harsh thoughts about your actions or personality, stop for a moment and refocus your mind to think about something that you like about yourself.
7. Seek out Professional Support
If you still have a hard time managing your thoughts and find that they are affecting your ability to meet your daily responsibilities or enjoy life, it’s probably better to seek counseling. Asking for professional support can help you reduce emotional suffering and experience self-growth.
HartenEck, P. (2015,). 7 Ways to Deal With Negative Thoughts. Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/women-s-mental-health-matters/201509/7-ways-deal-negative-thoughts
Hurst, K. (2019). How To Stop Negative Thinking With These 5 Techniques. Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.thelawofattraction.com/5-techniques-stop-negative-thinking/
PowerofPositivity. (2019, November 22). 12 Ways To Overcome Negative Thoughts (In 10 Minutes Or Less). Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.powerofpositivity.com/overcome-negative-thoughts-10-minutes/
Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended or recommended for patients or other lay persons or as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Patients must always consult a qualified health care professional regarding their diagnosis and treatment. Mental health conditions are complex, people differ widely in their conditions and responses, and interactions with other conditions and treatments are best evaluated by a physical examination and consultation with a qualified clinician.