Negative Thinking

How to Stop Negative Thinking

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Anais Nin

How we view the world depends much on our mental attitude. If our attitude is predominantly negative, it can have a huge impact on our life, affecting our family, career health and more. Negative thinking stops our brain from running at its optimum level and can hinder our ability to think clearly and deal with situations effectively. What’s more, the chronic stress that negativity attracts affects our overall well-being and can result in possible illness and emotional dysfunction.

The good news is, it is possible to break the chain of negative thinking and gradually train our thinking by implementing some very simple techniques.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Assign a time for negative thinking

One strategy that works for many, is to assign a time period of 5-10 minutes each day where you allow negative thoughts. If you have a negative thought through the day, outside of your Negative Thought Time (NTT), then simply jot it down and review it during your assigned period and move on with your day. This helps you to gain control over negative thinking and learn how to separate these thoughts.

Focus on your strengths

While it’s human nature to overlook the positives, try to focus on your personal strengths and don’t dwell on your past mistakes. Here’s a good trick to try: if you catch yourself thinking negatively about yourself or past actions, stop the thought process and think about something you do like about yourself or something that you did which you are proud of.

Stop watching negative media

Avoid negative influences where possible in order to help keep your mindset positive. Research shows that listening to only three minutes of negative news each morning will significantly increase your chances of experiencing negative thoughts throughout the day. On the other hand, starting your day with something positive (such as writing in a gratitude journal or listening to an uplifting podcast) will increase your satisfaction and productivity.

Practice Gratitude

Countless studies show how taking a few moments each day to be thankful can have a massive impact on your happiness and positivity. Even when you are experiencing periods of difficulty in your life, you can find something (no matter how small) to be grateful for. Taking note of what is going well in your life can help you to cope and stay positive when faced with problems. Learn more about the power of gratitude here.

Give to others

If you’re stuck in your own head, one of the quickest ways to break negative thoughts is to focus outwards on someone else. By bringing positivity to someone else’s life, in one way or another, you too will start to feel more optimistic, lifting your spirits as well as theirs.

A few ways you give to others is by:

Being kind – give a genuine compliment to someone, hold the door open for someone or even just offer a simple smile

Help out – provide a friend with some advice that has helped you in the past, give them a hand to move to a new house or drop a meal or cake over for them to enjoy.

Just be there – sometimes the best way we can help is to just listen as a loved one vents. Or if they want to, talk the situation over and help come up with possible solutions.

Work it out

If you find that you are stuck in a vicious cycle of negative thoughts, exercising can help clear up your headspace and break the pattern. Go for a 30-minute walk or run, lift some weights, do some Pilates or go for a swim. Moving your body will help you to release any worries or built-up tension and allow you to re-focus your mind and be constructive again.

Talk it out

If negative thoughts are really starting to take over, keeping them bottled up won’t help. Talk over your situation, worries or concerns with someone you can trust. Even just venting for a few minutes can often help you to see things in a different light. If not, your listener may be able to help you find a more useful perspective or create an action plan that may help relieve your stress.

Start your day in a positive way

How we begin our day often sets the tone for it. A negative start can make it harder for us to turn things around – whereas a positive one can help happiness continue to flow right through until bedtime. A few simple ways to get your day started right are to write down three things you are grateful for, read a couple of quotes that inspire you, listen to an up-building podcast, read a chapter in a book, have an uplifting conversation with a family member or go for a walk or run.

Just one more thing…

Remember, you are not super-human. Reprograming your brain to think more positively will likely not happen overnight, next week or even next month – some negativity may hang around for longer than expected, but that’s OK.

What’s important, is your constant effort to retrain, redirect and reprogram your thoughts and over time you will begin to see the effects.

For further help on retraining your thought pattern and quashing negative thinking for good, why not speak to one of our experienced psychologists?

We offer a 20-minute initial session which offers you the chance to ‘try out’ online therapy for negative thinking and see whether you feel you could benefit from it. To learn more about our online psychology service click here.


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