Wouldn’t it be great if negative thoughts came with warning signs reading, “It’s only a negative thought, you don’t have to believe it if you don’t want to?” Unfortunately, negatives don’t come like that. They come disguised as real problems, quietly slipping in when we’re not paying attention. If we’re not aware of the fact that our mind is the great trickster forever conjuring up negative thoughts, then we buy into every single destructive thought that occurs to us.
The following techniques will give you ways of dealing with negative thoughts. That’s why they are so valuable. Each technique is separate and independent from the other. In fact, some of these techniques are contradictory to each other, but each is highly effective on its own or in combination with others, for eliminating negative thinking.
Our mind is like a garden and we are the master gardeners. Through care and diligence we can create a botanical masterpiece. Or, through neglect, our garden can be a mass of weeds — negatives, insecurities and failures. Understanding this, it becomes clear that eliminating negative thinking is our duty and responsibility.
Here’s how the “Cut It Off” technique works. The instant that you recognize you are thinking a negative thought, you end it. You don’t argue with it, you don’t analyze it, you don’t defend yourself against it, you just cut it off. Simply cut it off and insert a totally different thought into your mind. The key is to cut it off the instant you recognize it. Whenever you become aware of negative thinking, act immediately, cut it off and set a totally different thought into your mind.
Another technique is called “Label It.” As soon as you recognize that you are thinking negatively, label it as such. Say to yourself, “What’s happening right now is that I am experiencing a negative thought inside me.” Keep reminding yourself “It’s only a negative thought. It’s only a negative thought.”
I’m going to share an astounding truth with you that will help you immensely in ridding yourself of negatives. I’m going to write it in bold letters and I’d like you to read it over at least three times before you continue on so that it becomes imprinted into your mind: Negatives only have power over you if you react to them.
Go back and read the last statement again. Continue to read it until you fully realize that it’s your reaction to negative thoughts that is what gives them power. The minute you start worrying, the minute you start reacting, the minute you start working yourself up, the negative thought has got you.
When you recognize that negatives only have power over you when you react to them, then you simply choose not to react. Label it. Remind yourself that it is only a negative thought and move on to something else. Don’t get trapped into thinking about it. Dismiss it.
The exaggeration technique is a great technique, but it requires you to exaggerate the negative thought into ridiculousness. And the key word here is ridiculousness.
Let’s say you’re a salesperson and you’re out making your sales calls. Suddenly the thought comes to you, “Ah, what’s the use, I’m not going to make another sale today.” First, catch yourself and say, “Wait a second that’s a negative thought.” Then, using the exaggeration technique, you might say, “That’s right, I’m not going to make another sale today. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised when I visit this next company, if, as soon as I open the door people throw pails of water on me. They’ll release pit bull terriers and German shepherds on me. I’ll be bitten and soaking. Then this great big mechanical boxing glove will come out of nowhere and smash me in the face. Everyone will leap up on their desk and reveal a great big banner that says, ‘You fool, why did you come here? You’re never going to make another sale!’ ”
The trick is to just keep carrying on exaggerating the negative thought until your mind goes, “Okay, enough, this is ridiculous.” Then you find yourself laughing at the thought, and once you’re laughing at the thought, it is robbed of all its negative power.
Whenever you get a negative thought, counteract it by thinking the exact opposite thought. For example, when the negative thoughts says: “I’m not going to make another sale today,” counteract it with, “I’m going to make several more sales today.” When the negative thought says, “I’m never going to get ahead financially,” counteract it with the exact opposite, “I’m going to be tremendously successful financially.” When the negative thought says, “I’m never going to have a meaningful relationship,” counteract it with the exact opposite, “I’m going to have a fabulous relationship soon.”
You see, the mind can only think one thought at a time. It might seem that you’re thinking many thoughts at a time but you’re actually just thinking one thought after another after another, and so on. At any given moment, you’re only thinking one thought. If you remove the negative thought and replace it with the exact opposite, you take the power away from the negative thought.
Don’t feed the beast! This is often exactly the opposite to what most people do. Most people think about things they don’t want to happen. They think about them, they worry about them, they focus on them and then, eventually, they manifest the very things they didn’t want to happen.
Affirmations are simply statements that you repeat to yourself over and over and over again. Affirmations are extremely effective, especially on reoccurring negatives, the ones that have haunted you for years. The next time you find yourself thinking a negative thought, calmly inform it that, “From here on, every time you come to me, you will be met with two minutes of affirmations stating the precise opposite of what you are saying.” And keep to that promise.
When your mind comes up with a negative thought such as, “I’m never going to get ahead in my life,” counteract it with two minutes of affirmations stating the exact opposite: “I’m going to be tremendously successful in my life. I’m going to be tremendously successful in my life. I’m going to be tremendously successful in my life.” Repeat this affirmation to yourself over and over again for the full two minutes. And if the negative comes back, hit it again with another two minutes. If you respond with two minutes of affirmations every single time the negative thought comes to you, I guarantee you that very quickly, often within days, that negative will cease haunting you.
These are five ways of dealing with negative thinking. Use whichever ones you find beneficial, use them in combination with one another, but most importantly, use them. You no longer need to be overpowered by negatives. You no longer have to let negative thoughts bring you down. From this point on you possess the tools and techniques to eliminate negatives.
Take a moment to observe your body language. Are you hunched or with a closed posture? Do you frown? If so, you will be more likely to think negatively. Improper body language can lower your self-esteem and lead to a lack of confidence. In that emotional state, it is natural to start having bad thoughts.
To feel safe you must open your posture and smile more. Correct your body language and you will feel much better. It could be just what you need to erase those negative thoughts.
Sometimes negative thinking appears because there are problems or emotions that you need to communicate. It is not good to keep things to yourself. If there is something that needs to be talked about, you should do it. Putting thoughts into words shapes them and makes them visible, and that will help you put the problems in perspective so you can deal with them more effectively.
When your mind is running at a mile per hour it can be difficult to stay calm. In this way it is more complicated to control the thoughts, especially the negative ones. A minute of calm is often enough. Meditation can be very useful, and you should think of it as a reboot. Once the mind is empty, it can be filled with something more positive.
Sometimes negative thinking is the result of a bad perspective. Take a look at the point of view that you take before the things that happen around you. For example, instead of thinking, “I’m going through a difficult time and I’m having problems,” you may think, “I think I’m facing some challenges, but I’m working on finding solutions.”
Basically, you are saying the same thing, except that the second form has a more positive point of view. Often that small change of focus can make a big difference in your thinking patterns.
When negative thoughts come it is very useful to find a creative outlet for those thoughts. Write things. Draw or paint something. Exploring emotions through creativity acts as self-therapy and will elevate your mood. The creativity can feel like a release. When you process your emotions through a form of art or creativity, you are breaking the habitual dynamic of your thoughts and it will be easier for you to understand and control them.
Because thoughts reside in the mind, it is easy to assume that this is where they form. But that is only partially true. Sometimes our thoughts are a product of our environment. For example, if you are surrounded by negative people, you are likely to start thinking negatively as well.
Getting away from this negative environment can help considerably. Taking a short walk with your head somewhere like a park or a museum could be enough. The time you spend away from negative influences will provide you with a necessary space of tranquility.
Have you forgotten all the good things around you? Sometimes, in the daily routine, we lose focus on the reasonably good things that are present in our lives. You must train your mind to return to focus on all the good that happens around you.
List each of the things you should be grateful for, no matter how small they seem to be. Do not take anything for granted in this respect. Sometimes the good things in our lives are right in front of our faces and we still can not see them. Stop being blind to all the positive things you already have.
If you have negative feelings and then beat yourself up for having negative feelings, you're creating a lot of useless negative energy. Instead, remember that your negative emotions are actually OK. "Emotions help us connect with our own experiences and with others," Chicago-based psychotherapist Sarah Farris tells Bustle. "Unfortunately, many people may feel pressure from others to not show their feelings or are criticized when having a negative feeling." Instead try to acknowledge them, accept them, and then do what you need to do to feel better.
If you need to clear out negative thoughts throughout your day, Ramano suggests setting alarms or reminders with positive thoughts. Saying, "You're going to nail this meeting!" or "You're killing it" can help give you a little boost and help push away some of that negative energy.
Sometimes when you're performing well and getting a sense of achievement, you don't realize that something can still be a negative force. But work can be a huge source of negative energy, so make sure to pay attention to how you feel on the job, even if you're performing well. "You might feel nervous all the time, and worried that everything you do is wrong. It's common to take it personally and begin to question your own worth. Never let that happen/get to that point," certified professional coach Lori Scherwin to Bustle. If your job seems toxic, you need to talk to your manager — or even consider changing employers.
I know, smiling might be the last thing you want to do when you feel down, but sometimes faking it until you make it can really pay off. And no, not in "One thing that I find makes people happier is actually smiling," Sarah J. Cepeda, certified life coach and empowerment speaker, tells Bustle. "You'd be surprised at how much of an impact something as simple as smiling can have on a person." It can really change your mood. If you have trouble smiling when you're feeling blue, take a minute and think about things you're grateful for — that can give you something to smile about.
Negative thoughts are something that pretty much everyone struggles with, so you shouldn't feel badly about it. But rather than getting angry at yourself for feeling down, accept those feelings and try to work through them. You're only human, after all.