How to Stop Negative Thinking

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Negative thinking bogs you down.

It makes you doubt yourself and feel bad about your situation.

Even worse, it makes people want to avoid you.

Thankfully, overcoming negative thinking isn’t impossible. In fact, it’s downright doable.

However, you need to be committed to it.

That’s because this way of thinking has probably been nurtured over the years. As such, it’s become a habit.

But, as long as you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll quickly see changes in the way you think.

Signs You’re a Negative Person

Are you a negative person?

Nobody likes being called a negative Nelly. Probably because there’s a bad connotation that comes with it.

But the thing is, sometimes we sometimes aren’t even aware that what we’re saying or thinking is negative.

That’s because some of your traits may have been formed during childhood. This can happen based on how your parents or caretaker taught you. Or, kids you hung out with.

At times, it could have been some relative who you spent a lot of time with.

The good news is, you can always change.

What’s important is that you’re aware of this behavior and make an effort to fix it in order to become a better person.

So, how can you tell?

Here’s a quick and easy way to see if you think negatively or act in ways where people may see you as a negative person.

If you do any of these things frequently or have 3 or more of these traits, then it may be time to take a look at yourself and reassess your mindset.

Here they are.

And, the question here is: “Do you:”

  • Find it hard to accept compliments
  • Don’t find excitement in the future
  • Get jealous of others’ success quickly
  • Make mistakes or wrong things seem bigger than they really are
  • Even big wins don’t excite you
  • Like judging others
  • Dwell on the past
  • First thoughts sway towards the negative or something that’s wrong
  • Tend to complain and whine about everything
  • Focus more on the problem instead of the solution
  • Don’t even try anymore, or make half-hearted attempts
  • Pick arguments with others for no reason at all

Sadly, this kind of thinking takes its toll on your mind and body.

Effects of Negative Thinking

How to Stop Negative ThinkingNegative thinking is stressful!

It always makes you keep your guard up. You worry a lot. Or, you may be in constant fear.

Chronic stress has a heavy toll on your mind and body.

It affects your immune system, hormonal balance and emotions.

Worst of all, it’s been shown to shorten your lifespan.

In some cases like negative self-talk, it could limit you as a person. At times, to the point where you don’t even try at all.

Put together, they make you feel bad about yourself and your situations. You can even get depressed.

As a result, it affects your relationships.

Just think about it…

Do you like being around someone who whines about everything? Or, keeps telling you you’re not good enough?

How to Stop Negative Thinking

Here are some ways you can eliminate negative thoughts and attitudes. 

Often, all it takes is making a few simple changes.

Stay Away From Negative People

People you hang out with a lot affect the way you think and feel. That’s because:

  • They’re traits rub off on you
  • If they’re negative, they’ll bring you down with their comments and criticism

Either way, you lose.

But before you can do that, you’ll need to identify the negative people around you. Only then can you avoid them.

You can likewise intentionally reduce or completely stop hanging out with them.

The hardest one to apply this strategy to are family members.

Let’s face it. You don’t get to choose who your relatives are. So, it can be a little trickier to cut them off completely.

But, one thing you can do is spend as little time as possible around them.

Hang Around Positive People

happy peopleIn addition to staying away from those who think negatively, hang around people who are positive.

In the same way that negative people put you down or make you think the same way they do, positive people do the opposite.

This trains your mind to see the good in things and not the bad. Plus, because you hang out with optimists, they’ll help motivate and inspire you even on your down days or when you fail.

Care Less About What People Think

News alert! People don’t care about you as much as you think they do!

They don’t spend more than a minute of their day about you.

Why?

They’re too concerned or busy with their own lives.

And, even if they do, so what?

Caring about what people think of you or expect of you can cause you to have negative thoughts. You’re afraid of what they might say.

As s result, this keeps you from being true to yourself.

You’re hesitant to act based on your instincts or who you are.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

This is very much related to the previous point. But this time, the self-talk comes from within.

You compare yourself to others. You do things that you’re not interested in because you think you have to.

In the end, you become unhappy, which leads to more negative thinking.

The worst part about it is you’ll likely regret doing so many years later.

So, stop worrying and comparing yourself to others. Instead, live your life. Do what you’re passionate about and what makes you happy.

Live in the Present

live in the presentYou live in the present. But, the funny thing about human nature is our thoughts are often away from what’s right in front of us.

Instead, you spend a lot of time thinking about the future or the past.

The thing is, you can’t control the future. And you can’t change the past.

The only thing your can influence right now is the present.

As such, focus on living it.

Stop Dwelling on the Past

Looking back at the past isn’t a bad thing.

It reminds you of happy memories, people you’ve had the pleasure of knowing and loving. And, you can learn from your mistakes.

But, often, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about those things. When we look at the past, it’s usually about:

  • What you missed out
  • Things you should have done
  • Mistakes and failures you could have avoided
  • Happier days you wished you could go back to
  • Regrets

None of these things help you. In fact, they make you feel down.

So, like the previous point, focus on the present because that’s the one you can change.

Make Positive Affirmations a Habit

Reciting positive affirmations in front of the mirror may seem awkward. But, it works.

Repeating something positive about yourself or your future self helps change your attitude and mindset for the better. Both of which improve your life.

As such, use this simple daily exercise to motivate you to rewire your brain to work towards your goals.

Focus on the Positive in Things

You may be already doing this. If you have a positive mindset or are an optimist, then chances are you practice this every day.

But, fore the rest of us, this is something worth keeping in mind.

You can’t prevent bad things from happening, no matter how hard you try.

But when things don’t go your way, focusing on the positive helps soften the blow. Plus, it helps you work towards a solution instead of moping or whining.

Replace Negative Thoughts With Positive Ones

Similarly, every now and then, you may find yourself falling into negative thought patterns. This happens more often when you think about people you don’t like. Maybe, it’s your bias.

In any case, when this kind of negative thinking creeps up, try to stop it.

Just as importantly, replace them with something positive.

When Problems or Mistakes Happen Don’t Blow Them Out of Proportion

This is what’s called magnification. In short, it’s exaggerating situations when bad things happen.

What’s worse, is that you can also be doing it to yourself. Often, we do this with our flaws or mistakes.

That said, it isn’t limited to you. You may also find yourself minimizing or dismissing others’ success or positive traits.

None of these are good. So, try not to blow things out of proportion because you only end up worrying and stressing more. Or, hurting others’ feelings for no reason at all.

See the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Sometimes you’re just down in the dumps. Or, have had a string of bad things happen.

When this happens, it’s easy to get swayed into thinking that this negative spiral will never end.

But, all things do pass, including the bad ones.

As such, it’s more productive to focus on how you can solve the problem or what you can do to get out of your current situation rather than feeling sorry for yourself.

Practice Gratitude

Being grateful makes you happier. That’s because it reminds you of what’s positive in your life.

This not only increases your satisfaction levels but also your contentment. As such, you’re less jealous about what other people have. And, you won’t keep comparing themselves to yourself.

Best of all you appreciate your own life and the experiences that happen in it.

Maintain a Gratitude Journal

gratitude journalKeeping a gratitude journal is a great way to keep track of the things you’re thankful for. It helps you go back to something, especially on days where things aren’t going well.

And, it’s a daily reminder of that good things in your life.

The best thing about it is it’s easy to do.

Every morning or evening, write down 3-6 things you’re thankful for.

Writing your journal at night lets you recount the day, while doing it in the morning makes you feel positive about what about to happen.

Either way, you win.

Say Thank You

Saying these two words has been proven to make you feel better.

In part, it’s because you’re showing appreciation for something others people do for you.

But, you also know that in saying “thank you”, your acknowledgement of their actions make them feel better as well.

This is one of the few things in the world where both the giver and receiver benefit.

Appreciate the Small Things in Life

All too often, we’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of life to “stop and smell the roses”.

As a result, you take a lot of things for granted.

This is what happens to parents who are too busy trying to make a living that they don’t spend enough time with their kids.

Similarly, I can remember times when I was so caught up in work when I was sent on trips abroad that I didn’t spend enough time visiting the sights and enjoying the culture.

At times, it can be more meaningful.

For example, I now sometimes look back and wished I had spent more time with my grandparents when they were here.

Lesson is, learn to appreciate things when they’re in front of you. You never know how long they’ll be around.  

Turn Off Your Mental Filters

Having a mental filter causes you to focus on the negative aspect of specific situations. This type of blinders makes you dwell on the bad even if it’s a very small aspect of the entire moment.

As such, it can ruin an otherwise good day.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that the negative thing can be trivial at times. But because you focus on it so much, it gets blown out of proportion.

Stop Complaining

negative attitudeYou probably know a few people who complain about even the smallest of things.

While it’s human nature to complain once in a while, doing it habitually can be irritating. In the process, you’ll alienate yourself from others.

More importantly, complaining comes with a negative connotation. After all, you only do so you’re not satisfied with something.

As such, doing this often makes you dwell on your negative thoughts more and more.

Get Rid of the Should Have, Could Have Attitude

Telling yourself you “should have” or “could have” never help.

Everyone bats 100% when it comes to hindsight.

Unfortunately, none of us can travel back in time.

So, playing the “I could have” or “I should have” game is never productive. In the end, you’ll find yourself blaming yourself for missed opportunities or past mistakes.

Instead, focus on what you can do now. And, learn from the past.

When You Find Yourself Thinking Negative Thoughts, Try to Stop Yourself

Self-awareness is an important skill when it comes to monitoring yourself for negative thoughts.

This means knowing your thinking patterns and things that trigger your negative thoughts.

In doing so, you’ll be able to recognize when these thoughts are happening.

Make no mistake, it takes practice and a lot of introspection.

But, over time, you’ll get better at it.

Stop Trying to Predict What Others’ are Thinking

Mind reading is when you make assumptions or jump to conclusions about other peoples’ thoughts or reactions to you.

The thing is, you can read other peoples’ minds.

So more often than not, your assumption is likely to be incorrect. In all likelihood, that person may not be even thinking about you.

The problem with mind reading is that it causes anxiety and fear. Both of which make you prone to think of the worst scenario.

Bottom line, don’t try to assume that other people are thinking.

Face Your Fears

negative thinkingYour fears make you think in a negative way.

Try to remember the last time you were faced with something challenging.

One of the first thoughts that probably crossed your mind was. “can I do it?“

Or, maybe, it might have been, “I don’t think I can do it”.

In either case, it places doubt or a negative thought into your head.

But, you don’t really know until you’ve tried. That was just your fear talking.

So, facing your fears helps you overcome this thinking. Because, at the very least, you’ll be able to do 50% of things you’re afraid of.

Try New Things and Challenge Yourself

One way to get over your fears is to try new things. Being open to them and doing them, even if you fail, improves confidence and self-esteem.

The reality is, the first time we do anything, it’s almost guaranteed to be bad.

But, you’ll be much better the second time. And, even more so the third time.

As such, trying new things lets you get used to taking on unfamiliar challenges. Not only does this reduce fear of the unknown, it makes you willing to try more things.

As such, you convert that thought of saying “no” to saying “yes”.  

Watch Less of the News

As useful as the nightly news is, it’s filled with negative updates. That’s because bad things sell. And TV stations know that.

That’s why you’ll notice that a lot of the reports focus on the negative.

People being robbed. Calamities happening or unfortunate things happening in the world.

As such, if you’re trying to get rid of negative thinking, turning off the news is a good idea.

Get Enough Sleep

sleepYou probably already know this from experience. When you don’t get enough sleep, you feel cranky and are easily irritated. Plus, you’re likely to be moody that day.

This emotional state makes more more prone to think negatively.

That’s because when you don’t feel good, your mind knows it. As such, it train of thought gets influenced by how you’re feeling.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Getting enough sustenance is important. It provides your body with energy.

Because the world, and life in general, is more negative that positive in most cases, it takes more effort to keep positive.

At least up to the point when you’ve been able to change your mindset.

In addition, eating healthy makes you feel good.

Exercise Regularly

Besides sleep, exercise probably produces the fastest results in terms of feeling better. This goes for both your mind and body.

That’s because physical activity causes your body to release feel good hormones. Among them are endorphins which make you feel more positive.

Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Attitude

This is one of the things I didn’t like about school. The pass-fail method makes you think that if you didn’t pass, you completely failed.

However, in life, it’s never that cut and dry. You can lose even when you win and vice versa.

For example, if you cheat in a test to get a better grade, you may have won. But, in reality you lose because you didn’t really learn anything. The same is true for the opposite.

That’s why lots of kids who didn’t do well in school are very successful in the real world.

As such always look at the process and everything else that happens in between. Just because you didn’t get the outcome you desired doesn’t mean everything you did was a waste or was wrong.

Conclusion

Negative thoughts affects the way you think and feel about yourself. They also make you behave in a way you normally wouldn’t.

If you’re trying to stop thinking in a negative way, the tips and tactics above will help you get there.

In doing so, you’ll be able to get rid of its toxic effects from your life. And, in the process, feel happier and better about yourself and your life.

What kind of negative thinking do you often find yourself doing? Let me know in the comments below.

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