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Stop Negative Thinking

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 09, 2021

For so many of us, it can feel like second nature to talk to ourselves in a mean way. It can become the default way we speak to ourselves. This is especially true when things in your life are difficult or feel out of your control. 

What is Negative Thinking?

One of the most fundamental psychological principles is that, as humans, we tend to give more weight to things that go wrong than positive events or times when things work out for us. As a result, negative experiences can have up to four times more of an impact on our lives.

While negative experiences are essential for growth, having thoughts that are constantly internalizing adverse events and emotions can be detrimental to your life and happiness. Negative thoughts are thoughts that do just that. 

Understand Positive Thinking

Positive thinking doesn't just involve ignoring unpleasant or difficult situations. It means that you embrace unpleasantness with a more positive attitude. It means operating from a place of optimism over pessimism. 

To get to this place, you must start by observing your internal monologue or how you speak to yourself. You can either talk to yourself positively or negatively. Some of what you say to yourself may seem logical while some might be infused with emotion and negativity. 

If most of your self-talk is negative, you're likely inclined toward pessimism, and probably have a glass-half-empty attitude. As a result, you may find yourself craving more positivity and lightness in your life. 

Focus on Positivity

While difficult, it's possible to turn negative self-talk into the positive kind. Be aware that this takes time and practice. Some ways that you can achieve this shift involve:

  • Becoming mindful of your negative thoughts. Spend time noticing when your negative thoughts arise and what they're focused on. They might be about your job, your relationships, or your situation at your school. At first, you could try and select just one area to focus your energy on.
  • Checking in with yourself. Throughout the day, slow down and stop. Check in with yourself and see if your thoughts are negative or positive. If you find that they're negative, try and uplift yourself. 
  • Laughing more. Having a sense of humor in your general daily life can significantly improve your sense of positivity. When you laugh, you feel less stressed, and when you feel less stressed, you are more likely to look at life through a positive lens. 
  • Adopting a positive lifestyle. Try and adopt healthy habits like exercising 30 minutes a day, eating healthy food, and trying beneficial stress-reduction methods. Fueling your mind and body in positive ways can make a significant impact on your mood and outlook. 
  • Surrounding yourself with supportive people. Surround yourself with people who uplift you and contribute positive meaning to your life. It’s essential to have people in your life who can offer their support, providing advice and positive feedback. Negative people only increase your stress and make you unsure whether you can even shift towards a more positive outlook. 
  • Engaging in positive self-talk. Be gentle with yourself. Encourage yourself, even when a negative thought enters your mind. Try and lead with your good qualities and affirmations of what you like about yourself. The golden rule is that if you think something that you wouldn’t say to a friend, chances are it isn’t helpful to you. 

Be Realistic

Engaging in negative self-talk can just become another source of fodder for negativity. Remember, you're trying to cultivate positivity and self-compassion. Be realistic about how quickly you may or may not be able to move away from the negative thought. Know that this type of habit shift can take time. 

You may find that to feel more positive, you need to change some things in your life. Setting boundaries with certain people or shutting off the news when it gets to be too much are ways to establish these types of boundaries. 

You should also consider reprioritizing certain things. Making time to engage in things you enjoy enriches your life and can bolster your mood, contributing a fantastic sense of positivity. It can also boost your self-confidence. 

WebMD Feature

Sources

SOURCES: 

Mayo Clinic: “Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress.”

Mental Health America: “Negative Self-Talk During COVID -19.”

UC Berkely Great Good Magazine: “How to Overcome Your Brain’s Fixation on Bad Things.”

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