It’s normal for negative thoughts to creep into your mind. But when negative thoughts unpack and make a home in your brain, it can begin to affect your everyday life.
Getting rid of these thoughts can definitely be a challenge. But if you allow them to take up too much space in your mind, your focus, energy, and enjoyment of life will take a dip.
Try these seven ways to combat negative thoughts and start seeing the brighter side of life!
1. Practice Positive Thinking
When those bad thoughts start to creep into your mind, try to block them and focus on good ones.
You can even try to turn the negative thoughts into good ones by looking at the situation from a different angle.
This might seem impossible at first. But each time you succeed, it will become easier. If you force yourself to find the good in every situation, positive thinking will become second nature.
2. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
Whenever you start to think negatively, ask yourself if the thought is even rational. Could it be that the thought is distorted in some way?
If you think you might be distorting your thoughts, challenge your thinking. Is the situation as bad as you think it is? Are you blowing aspects of the situation out of proportion?
Try to refute your initial thought. Even if you think a situation is bad, pretend for a second that it’s not. Changing your position will help you see it from a different perspective.
This can be difficult. But if you can try to see it from a different perspective, you might be able to identify where you’re being irrational.
Another way to deescalate a negative thought or emotion is by asking yourself some questions:
Will this matter to you next year? How about next month? Tomorrow?
If you come to the realization that this situation is only temporary, you’ll have an easier time dealing with it.
3. Be Grateful for Good Things
Even in bad times, we still have things to be grateful for. When we focus on the good things we have, dealing with the negative ones is easier.
For example, you could tell yourself, “I might have lost my job, but I am grateful that I still have my home.”
Another way to focus on the positives is to start a gratitude journal. Writing about the things you’re grateful for can help you see the brighter side of life.
4. Adopt a Positive Affirmation
Therapists often advise their clients to practice positive affirmations. This activity can help you instill happy thoughts in your mind.
Positive affirmations are short statements that you can say (or write) to yourself whenever you’re stuck in a loop of negative thinking.
- “I can and will do great things with my life.”
- “I can handle any challenge that comes my way.”
- “I deserve success, and I’ll work hard to achieve it.”
You can find plenty of positive affirmation examples online, or you can write your own. Repeat these positive affirmations out loud in the morning and before you go to bed to keep it in the forefront of your mind.
5. Surround Yourself With Optimism
Your environment can have a big impact on your mindset. When you surround yourself with happy, positive people, you will naturally have a more optimistic view on life.
If you have a hard time finding these types of people, go out and look for them. Try doing some volunteer work if you want to spend your time around folks who are dedicated to improving the lives of others.
The same is true for the opposite type of people. To keep your thoughts on the sunny side, stop hanging around negative thinkers. Unfollow, unfriend, and avoid pessimistic people.
Also, limit the amount of time you spend watching negative TV shows and listening to negative podcasts. If you consume positive, uplifting content, you’ll find that your thoughts become more positive.
6. Dig Deeper
There may be a deeper reason why your thoughts are often so negative. Why are you really thinking such bad thoughts? Is there a root cause of this?
There may be underlying issues that you need to address. By working through them, you may be able to climb out of your negative thought spiral.
Sometimes, overcoming a negative thinking habit requires the help of a professional. You could have emotions buried so deep that you need someone to help you bring them to light.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Talking to a therapist could be crucial for your mental health, and there’s no shame in doing so.
7. Get Rid of the Physical Proof
You may benefit from getting rid of your thoughts in a physical way. Writing your thoughts on paper and destroying the paper can help you to visualize the thought’s disappearance.
This may seem silly, but you won’t know if it is effective until you try it.
To try this, write the thought down on a piece of paper. Then, do whatever you want to that piece of paper to make you feel like you successfully defeated the thought.
You can throw it away, burn it, or stomp on it. Do whatever it takes to make you feel like the thought is dead.
Negative thoughts are like weeds in a garden; they can stifle more positive thoughts from becoming the big, beautiful flowers that they should be. That’s why it’s important to dig up those negative thoughts and throw them out!
Getting your negative thoughts under control is crucial for a healthy mindset. When you can do this effectively, your whole outlook on life will be much more peaceful and content.
Karen Lein is the General Manager of Copper Beech San Marcos and Grove San Marcos. She is a Fresno State alumna and enjoys traveling and watching football. #GoDogs!