Negativity or negative thought patterns are like unwanted guests in our minds. These thoughts creep in and leave us emotionally drained.
Each of us has our bouts of negativity when we experience fear, despair, self-doubt, confusion and even jealousy.
These days it’s easy to fall in negativity trap especially in these times when trolls rule social media, stress in our personal life spills onto our work; oh and did I mention about a mean co-worker and the emotionally detached spouse? Ah! not to forget the house loan!
So as you can see, one life and too many problems can throw us into a whirlpool of negative thoughts sucking out all optimism.
But how do we stop falling into this spiral of negativity? How do we counter our negative thoughts which makes us insecure? ? There are number of simple ways to you can curb negative thoughts and adopt a more positive outlook towards life, even adverse situations you can learn to be more optimistic.
As it happens this post is all about understanding your negative thoughts patterns, how negativity impacts your mental peace and finally how you can take control over your thoughts.
This write-up will provide you with 15 powerful tips to curb negative thought patterns and be more content and happy with your life.
Let’s dive in.
Table of contents:
15 Best tips to counter Negative Thoughts
Understanding Negative Thoughts: Why negativity affects us more?
Psychiatrist Grant H. Brenner, co-founder of Neighborhood Psychiatry, has told psycom.net that our brain has a natural bias for threat detection; though this is more in the context of human evolution, as humans survived through ages thanks to their instinct for smelling danger.
The perception of danger has programmed our brain to give more weightage to negative thoughts and information than positive ones. In our brain negative thoughts are more powerful as they are somehow connected to our instinct for survival.
On the other hand, it is interesting to note that positive messages or thoughts are not as impactful negative ones because they don’t challenge us; infact they relax us and take away the stress.
Researchers claim that for one negative thought we need at least 5 positive ones to push our thoughts patterns towards a more optimistic trajectory.
Examples of Some common Negative thoughts
Various studies have shown that recurring negative thoughts creates a never-ending cycle of self-defeat leading to issues like low-self worth and inferiority complex.
Negative thinking reinforces negative outcomes in your mind and can become truly prophetic should you choose to believe such thoughts.
Here are some common negative thoughts that are holding you back from your true potential.
- Nothing good ever happens in my life.
- I will never lose weight.
- I’m not good enough/capable enough.
- I’ll never be happy.
- I’ll never get married.
- I’ll never be rich.
- I am getting old.
- I hate him/her.
- I have no energy.
- I can never do anything right.
The Effect of Negative Thoughts
The impact of negative thoughts on our health can be serious. It can lead to depression, added stress, and anxiety. It can also cloud your everyday decision making.
It is true our brain unconsciously at times, gravitates towards negative thoughts, but obsessing over such harmful thoughts and making it the focal point in life can have severe ramifications.
According to psychologists, people who are continuously on a negative spiral can’t enjoy things, because are constantly worried about everything; they also show symptoms of withdrawal from their normal lives and can push their near ones away.
People who are more Prone to Negative Thoughts
Why are some people more prone to negative thoughts, Dr. Brenner says, “Having negative experiences in childhood, as well as adulthood, may strengthen, confirm, and/or create sticky expectations that the world is a negative place..
Such expectations can come up as negative thoughts, which are defenses against disappointment and other reactions, as well as simply accommodating to the way the world really seems to be.”
For example, you are more likely to internalize pessimistic or negative point of view if your parent(s) had similar thought process while you were growing up.
How to Stop Negative Thoughts: Tips To Overcome Negativity
Below mentioned are 15 best tips to stop you from spiraling into the negativity trap. You can consciously create a system where you acknowledge your negative thinking and work towards eliminating it.
Identify and Write your Negative Thoughts
To deal with your negative emotions better, it would be helpful if you lay bare all doubts and confusion in your mind.
Make a list of all those negative thoughts and emotions. Be as descriptive as possible and write your heart out on a blank page. Write about everything you that’s bothering you.
A. Your fears
C. Events that happened in past week/month/year
D. People who you feel wronged you.
E. Situations that impacted your mind
F. Unpleasant childhood events
Analyze Negative Thoughts
As you write down your thoughts, try to identify your though process and actions. For example how do you usually react in challenging situations? Here are some common negative thought patterns we all get affected with.
You always assume the worst possible outcome without even taking into account some more probable and less depressing probabilities. This mostly happens when anxiety overpowers your logical thinking process.
When you have a strong inner critic you view yourself as a complete failure in every situation. So in any challenging situation observe how you speak to yourself.
If you constantly engage in negative self-talk like, “I’m stupid” or “I’m good for nothing,” your confidence gets affects and you tend to doubt yourself and your capabilities all the time.
Jumping to conclusions:
You jump to conclusions when make negative assumptions about a situation or about other people or what they are thinking.
Previous negative experience:
If you had a negative experience in a certain situation, it is natural you’ll react negatively if you had to face an identical situation again.
Label your Negative Thoughts
Now that you have observed and analyzed your various thought patterns, you can give it a definite label it. Labeling or naming your negative thoughts makes it slightly easier in managing them. With this process you are at least aware of what is going on in your mind and you are finally ready to confront it.
Replace Negative Thoughts with a Positive one
Focusing on the positive side of a situation can help combat the negative thought patterns. You could also replace your negative thoughts with a positive one but there is a catch.
Psychologist Rachel Goldman, suggests that replacing negative thoughts with overly positive ones won’t be helpful. Speaking to Very Well Mind, Goldman says that you should replace such thoughts with something that shows self-compassion and is neutral in tone.
Like if have thoughts like “I am a failure”/”I am going to fail,” you shouldn’t replace it with something like “I know I am going to succeed.. instead .. replace it with something like ‘I don’t know if I am going to be able to do it, but I am trying my best.'”
Another helpful technique, she recommends is to consider what you’d say to a friend in this situation.
Acknowledge and Evaluate
The process to curb your negative thinking begins with acknowledging that you fall frequently into the negative thought pattern. This is how you recognize that there is a problem.
Secondly, examine the proof which supports or contradicts that particular thought. Find out the root cause why this thought emerged in the first place?
Did you experience a similar situation in the past? Are your thoughts are on track with what happened?
When you to confront or challenged such unhelpful thoughts, you learn to look at situations more logically.
Yes, it won’t be easy to adapt to this style of thought evaluation, but with time and practice, you will learn to think more rationally.
Understand that your Thoughts are not Facts
Dr. Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap has claimed that 80 percent of our thoughts have some sort of negative content and the problem is we often believe that our thoughts are true.
Your thoughts are just thoughts; they are not facts and you don’t have to believe everything your thoughts tell you.
Some researchers have found that people who are happy with their lives question their thought process and are acutely aware of negative thought patterns. They have successfully managed to change the way they think.
Practice Meditation or any Calming Activity
Mindfulness helps you to become more self-aware and think rationally. It is a proven method to manage anxiety better.
The most mindful activity is meditation and it can be done by anyone. Meditation can be as simple as taking deep breaths, by keeping your eyes closed for 5 minutes everyday.
With meditation you can view your thoughts and emotions as an outsider and become more aware of your current state of mind and what emotions are guiding it?
Mindfulness helps you to take control of your emotional reactions to circumstances. It allows the logical part of your brain to function better. Mindfulness may even help your thoughts to be more adaptive to situations.
Various studies have shown that being compassionate and kind to yourself helps your brain positively in confronting disruptive thoughts that adds to negativity, anxiety and self-critical behavior.
Giving yourself some positive pep-talk each day like, “I’m trying my level best,” or “I’m being too hard on myself,” can help a great deal to elevate your self-worth.
When you practice self-compassionate behavior, you learn to love yourself and understand your self-worth.
Engage in Self-care, Affirmations and Gratitude
Caring about your mental health is as important as your physical one. Self-care is engaging in all things that make you happy.
Affirmations are powerful positive reinforcement to help you glide through any negativity.
When you practice gratitude you focus shifts to all the good things in life.
Maintain a Thought Journal
Sometime we are just stressed and tired with our monotonous lives. Our stress levels may increase chances of negativity in our lives.
Journaling is a good way of monitoring your stress levels. Try to maintain a thought journal of sorts to keep a record of what’s going on in your mind.
Develop a routine to counter Negative Thoughts.
As they say an empty mind is a devil’s workshop so you have to keep your mind occupied, routines give your mind a purpose.
Additionally create some personal goals for yourself to give your mind a purpose.
As humans we all have our level of expectation. When things don’t go as expected or when someone falls short of our expectations we feel disappointed.
But understand you cannot control everyone or every situation. There will be someone who will have a different point of view.
Instead of being negative or overtly critical you have to realize there will be times when things will not go as planned.
So try to complain less.
No one like a Negative Nancy. If you constantly find faults with others or constantly go on whining about things or situations it will naturally make you a bitter person and increase negative energy in your life.
Stop Comparing Yourself with Others
It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap where you might feel someone has a blessed life compared to yours.
But what we don’t realize is that person may have his own struggles. His life may not be as rosy and perfect as it seems.
Remove Toxic People From Your Life
Many a times, there are toxic people who contribute towards negativity in our lives. People who manipulate you emotionally are not doing you any favors.
You must really think long and hard if you want them in your life at all.
Remove every person and relationship that is toxic to your mental health. This could be anyone a friend, a relationship you are in, your relatives. Ha! Easier said than done right?
If it’s not possible to remove them entirely choose to avoid them.
Don’t let people take advantage of you, learn to say ‘NO’ to such people.
This could be a friend who never returns things she borrows. Your colleague, who expects you to do her share of work or a penny pincher relative who expects you to pay each time you meet.
If you try to please everyone despite knowing they are taking your advantage then it will only increase your anger and frustration.
Value and surround yourself with people who are your biggest cheerleaders.
Stop believing in Instagram Life
You know social media can be a double-edged sword.
It is an amazing tool of information but it fuels discontentment also.
You may ape your favorite celebrity, just because you came across some pretty images on Instagram.
But most of the perfect images you come across in social media are curated or meticulously planned to give you an illusion of the perfect life.
No one has the perfect life and we all have issues we’re dealing with.
Instead of being dissatisfied with your life try to limit your time spent in social media and don’t believe in everything you see.
Can you eliminate negative thoughts completely?
Our thoughts have tremendous power over us. They guide our feelings, and set the mood for our day. They even affect our physical health.
They can make you feel sick or full of energy depending on your state of mind. The trick here is to know how much you are letting negative thoughts affect your peace of mind.
If you are someone who is affected by negativity easily I would really urge you to use some of these tips.
If you have read till here I thank you for your patience please do have a look at these helpful posts before you leave.