How to break free from negative thinking for good

Learn how to tap into the positive and manage the negative.

By Patricia Harteneck, PhD

How to break free from negative thinking for good

Most of us spend a lot of time inside our own mind — worrying about the future, replaying events in the past, and generally focusing on the parts of life that leave us dissatisfied. While common, negative or unwanted thoughts can prevent you from enjoying experiences, distract you from focusing on what’s important, and drain your energy. They can also make you feel anxious and depressed.

The good news is that with dedicated practice, you can replace negative thinking patterns with thoughts that actually help. This can make a huge difference in your day-to-day happiness and comfort.

Try these 7 ways to manage (and decrease) your negative thoughts:

1. Recognize thought distortions. Our minds have clever and persistent ways of convincing us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts reinforce negative thinking. If you can recognize them, you can learn to challenge them. Here are four common thought distortions:

  • Black and white thinking. Seeing everything as one way or another, without any in between.
  • Personalizing. Assuming you are to blame for anything that goes wrong, like thinking someone did not smile at you because you did something to upset her. (It’s more likely that person is having a hard day and her mood had nothing to do with you.)
  • Filter thinking. Choosing to see only the negative side of a situation.
  • Catastrophizing. Assuming the worst possible outcome is going to happen.

2. Challenge negative thoughts. Whenever you have a distorted thought, stop and evaluate whether it is accurate. Think about how you would respond if a friend spoke about herself that way. You would probably offer a good rebuttal to his or her negative view. Apply the same logic to your own thoughts. Ask yourself if you are assuming the worst will happen or blaming yourself for something that has not gone the way you wanted. And then think about other possible outcomes or reasons that something turned out differently than you hoped.

3. Take a break from negative thoughts. It is possible to learn how to separate from negative thoughts. One way to do this is to allow yourself a certain amount of time (maybe five minutes) with the thought. Then take a break from focusing on it and move on with your day.

4. Release judgment. We all judge ourselves and others, usually unconsciously. Constantly comparing ourselves to other people or comparing our lives to some ideal breeds dissatisfaction. When you are able to let go of judgment (not easy, but possible), you will likely feel more at ease. Some ways to take a break from judgmental thoughts include recognizing your own reaction, observing it, and then letting it go. Another helpful technique is to “positive judge.” When you notice you are negatively judging a person, yourself, or a situation, look for a positive quality, too.

5. Practice gratitude. Research shows that feeling grateful has a big impact on your levels of positivity and happiness. Even when you are experiencing a challenging time in your life, you can usually find things (even small things) to be grateful for. Noticing the things that are going well and making you feel happy will keep you in touch with them. Keeping a gratitude journal and writing a few things in it every day is one easy and effective way to do this.

How to break free from negative thinking for good

6. Focus on your strengths. It’s human nature to dwell on the negative and overlook the positive. The more you can practice focusing on your strengths and not dwelling on mistakes you’ve made, the easier it will be to feel positive about yourself and the direction your life is taking. If you find yourself thinking harsh thoughts about your personality or actions, take a moment to stop and think about something you like about yourself.

7. Seek out professional support if you are unable to manage your thoughts or find they are interfering with your ability to meet your daily responsibilities or enjoy life. Counseling and therapy can help you weather life changes, reduce emotional suffering and experience self-growth.

This guest post is by Dan Lippmann of the Mood Switch Method.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for your negative thinking to spiral out of control?

“I wonder if I’ll be able to meet that deadline.
If I don’t meet the deadline, my boss will go crazy.
He’ll give me a bad evaluation.
I’ll end up getting fired.
I won’t be able to pay my bills.
I’ll lose my home.
I’ll be out on the street with no money.
My life will be over.”

How to break free from negative thinking for goodYou start out by thinking one upsetting thought. In seconds, that thought leads to another, until you’ve produced a whole chain of negative thoughts. When combined together, these thoughts steal your sense of well-being, leaving anxiety and fear in their wake.

The most important thing for you to know is this: You don’t have to go along with whatever negative thoughts are triggering up in your brain. You can learn to direct your thinking in a way that will be helpful instead of harmful to you.

Breaking the chain of negative thinking

Picture your negative thoughts as a chain of associations. Your goal is to break the chain after the first link and then keep new links from being added.

This is easier than you might think and doesn’t require superhuman effort—only a little bit of awareness and practice.

You may be surprised to learn that your negative thoughts aren’t usually random. Often, there’s a specific underlying emotion (sadness, anger, jealousy) or theme (money, death, health) that triggers your negative thinking and serves to link your thoughts together. Once you’re aware of your personal patterns or themes, it’s easier to break the associations or links.

I realized this a few weeks ago when I heard on the radio that a TV personality from my childhood had died. I immediately felt mildly sad, and then I realized that my mind suddenly wanted to make other “death associations.” If I had allowed my thoughts free rein, they probably would have played out something like this:

“My mother’s dead.
My father’s dead.
I’m the same age as my father when he got sick.
I hope the same thing isn’t wrong with me.”

If I had allowed this line of thinking to continue, I would have been in a down mood in a matter of minutes, and maybe spent the next few hours, or even days, feeling badly.

Fortunately, I recognized where my mind wanted to take me, and made a conscious choice to stop my thoughts in their tracks. I simply refocused my thoughts on something neutral – the tastes and smell of my breakfast – and then switched the radio to a music station that I like. I was able to stop the downward spiral before it began and to get on with my day.

So the next time you experience an upsetting feeling, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is there a benefit to thinking about this situation?
  2. Is there a benefit to following the chain of associations arising from this situation?

If the answer is no, turn your thoughts to something neutral, interesting, or uplifting. You might be surprised at how easy it is to avoid a downward spiral.

It might even save your day.

Dan Lippmann counsels clients from his two Chicago-area offices and is the creator of the Mood Switch Method, an easy to learn technique that breaks the painful cycle of negative emotions, such as anxiety, down moods and anger. Download his free eBook, Beyond EFT: 7 Steps to Banish Stress, Worry, Fear and Anxiety, and sign up for his weekly tips at www.danlippmann.com.

This post was written by a guest contributor to FeelGooder. Please see their details in the post above.

Check out Write for FeelGooder page for details about how YOU can share your tips with the FeelGooder community.

Comments

Timely article for me. I have recently begun noticing how my negative thinking quickly spirals into vividly imagining the worst possible scenario. Thankfully I have begun to be more alert to my negative thoughts and I quickly pivot to vividly imagining positive things, i.e. winning the lottery, finding a mate, etc.

Anne,
It’s great that once you notice your negative thoughts, you’re able to switch to more positive ones. Although this doesn’t seem to be the case for you, people sometimes find it too big a stretch to imagine wildly (out of immediate reach) positive things. In this case, it’s fine to think of mildly positive things first. Since the brain works on associations, one positive thought often leads to another.

Thank you for a perfect article… to me anyway! You have given me a fantastic tool, for that I am grateful and I hope going forward I will remember this post and how I can save my own day and pass that along! You rock!
Take care,
Lisa

Lisa,
Lots of people need help remembering to switch their thoughts to more positive ones. See Alan’s comment below for a really creative way to “train” yourself to switch your thoughts. Building on Alan’s idea, you could stick post-it notes with train pictures on your computer, mirror, etc. for additional visual reminders. It’s great to pass this thought switching technique along to others. Helping others is a well-known way to enhance your own sense of well-being.
Dan

I definitely was a negative thinker and always worrying about if this or that happened, what’s going to happen and so forth… recently I’ve tried to do the opposite. When I recognize the “negative train,” I immediately stop and start the “positive express.” Sounds like a corny train analogy but it helps me remember and focuses me to build on the positive thoughts going forward. I just picture that old choo-choo train running down and then I hop on the bullet train and zoom! I’m off to the land of positive thinking!

Thanks for a great post Dan.

Alan,
Thanks for sharing your great technique. It doesn’t matter how corny an analogy is as long as it works!
Dan

Great post. It’s easy to be negative especially when things are going bad for us. It seems that once we step down the spiral slope of negativity that it is hard to recover.

Eric,
Agreed! Early intervention is the key.
Dan

How to break free from negative thinking for good

Are you stuck in a negative mindset and can’t seem to break free? It’s not hard to become mired in negativity these days.

When you feel you’re out of options, it’s easy to hit a wall and resign yourself to your situation, instead of looking at the possibilities.

But now, it’s time to get creative when it comes to dealing with negativity and how it affects your thoughts.

I know I wouldn’t be where I am right now without my personal coach. Jim Fortin is one of the world’s leaders in subconscious self-transformation.

He’s created a formula to “master” your thoughts, and it will help you break free of the mindset “trap” that pins you in negative thoughts. According to Jim, in most situations, you’re not really stuck, it’s your mindset that’s on pause.

In reality, even when you feel you have no control, you can control your thoughts, because you are more than your thoughts.

The truth is, nothing outside yourself will make you happy. That relationship, that job, that city — whatever it is for you — the second it doesn’t go the way you want it to, you’re unhappy.

Why? Because you’re making something on the outside determine your internal happiness, an act that is completely counterproductive and leads to being in a negative mindset “trap.”

Here are 5 simple steps to break free from a negative mindset.

1. Choose your “master thought.”

The foundation of Jim’s formula is to have one master thought that drives the rest of your thinking.

Most people have one thought that all other thoughts come from. Often, it’s negative, leading to fear and depression.

Something like, “I can never be happy until. ” or, “Nothing ever works out for me.” As a result, you wind up feeling trapped.

But you have the power over your master thought, so if yours has you down, choose a new one. Try focusing on the positive and changing your outlook.

2. Recognize negativity in your thoughts.

Negativity often comes to you unconsciously. You won’t usually recognize this thought pattern until you’re in a negative place. From there, you wind up looking for your thoughts to be true and find yourself in a mindset trap.

How do you know when you’re headed there? Remember that you feel like you think.

In order to recognize negativity, be aware of your feelings. Replace your current thoughts with those that support you, instead of those that lead to you to a place of fear. With practice, you’ll interpret your life differently.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

3. Construct your thinking.

In order to change your thought pattern, you need to think about how you think.

Right now, you may be going through a hard time. Your identity may be changing. Maybe it’s a divorce or a job change, or even the global pandemic.

Jim believes that bad stuff doesn’t happen, but rather we make interpretations about what happens. The truth is, nothing means anything except the meaning that you give it.

Take time to construct your thinking. Start with your conversations. Don’t let them go down a negative path. Instead, spin every conversation in a positive light.

Trending on YourTango:

4. Create your identity.

It’s time to focus on a positive self-image. To do so, you need to believe you are what you want to be.

According to Jim, there are two different types of identity. One identity is assured and confident. The other identity works from circumstance. The first identity creates their world, the second identity is being molded by it.

Don’t let the circumstances around you determine how you feel. Instead, create your identity, intention, and the energy you put out into the world.

5. Change your beliefs.

We all read people subconsciously. If your negative thoughts show up in encounters with others, they will feel it.

Instead, you have to manage the energy you bring to any situation — be it a date, an interview, or a sales pitch. This starts by changing your beliefs.

It’s important to understand that your environment is your beliefs objectified. For example, if you want to know what you believe about relationships, look at your relationship history. This is a reflection of what you believe.

In order to change your negative beliefs, you need to change. When you accept 100-percent responsibility for your life, you can change what you believe about yourself and the world.

This thought formula will help you shift your thinking and control your negative mindset and outlook. From there, you’ll be able to break free of the mindset trap that’s holding you back, and start to see you’re never really stuck.

Hilary DeCesare is the Founder and CEO of The ReLaunch Co. She’s appeared on ABC’s The Secret Millionaire and on major news outlets such as CBS, ABC, Fox, Huffington Post, and Yahoo, and offers several ReLaunch courses and coaching. To connect with her directly or for media requests please email her!

This article was originally published at The ReLaunch Co.. Reprinted with permission from the author.

How to break free from negative thinking for good

Q: Whether it’s a test at school or a new step at dance class, my daughter doesn’t think she can do anything well. She always seems to be spiraling down into this pit of negative thinking, and it’s preventing her from accomplishing or finishing just about anything. There are a lot of tears, and she’s starting to avoid anything new.
How can I help my daughter overcome negative thinking and promote a more positive attitude about her abilities?

The roots of negative thinking can begin in the earliest days of our children’s lives

According to Jennifer Miller, an expert in social and emotional learning and author of Confident Parents, Confident Kids, “Children begin to process negative thinking or negative thoughts when they are told by parents or caregivers or teachers, ‘Don’t do that,’ or ‘You’re breaking the rules,’ or ‘That’s not right.’As we provide guidance for them, we’re kind of their external regulator.”

Eventually, as they hit age 8 or 9, they begin to develop their own internal self talk, based on those lessons they’ve learned from their parents and teachers. It’s a good thing, Miller said.

“It’s almost their little Jiminy Cricket, their moral compass because all the rules that adults have enforced for them on the outside have started to become internalized,” she said.

But it also can create patterns of behavior that aren’t so desirable, including an internal refrain that they just can’t do anything right whether it’s a step at dance class or hitting the ball at baseball practice.

“It can literally paralyze a child,” Miller said.

Listen and watch

To help them overcome negative thinking, parents first need to listen to their child and observe them as they talk about their abilities and react to their fears, Miller said. Catch them ruminating.

“Ruminating is different from reflecting,” she said. “Ruminating is stirring on the hamster wheel of worry. It’s going around on the same thought, but never reframing that thought or gaining any kind of new perspective on it.”

In some cases, children with negative thinking may say out loud that they know they won’t perform well on a school project or on the sports field. In other cases, they may simply avoid the activity or approach a challenge with failure written all over their face.

Acknowledge and reframe

If kids express those feelings in their words or conduct, parents need to act, Miller said. Acknowledge that they’re obviously worried about being able to perform on a test or activity.

“Just voicing the feelings helps a child feel understood, which adds to their self awareness,” she said. “All of a sudden, they’re like, ‘I guess I’m worrying.’”

From there, help them reframe their perspective.

“Ask them a few questions about how they can look at it differently or call up old history,” Miller said. “Say, ‘I remember you were really scared about that test last year in reading, and you aced it. It was no problem. You can do this.’”

As you help your child understand their negative thinking, don’t encourage them to deny the thoughts altogether. Help them consider those negative thoughts as just one of the many possible outcomes.

“Although the negative brain is programmed to see the problems, flaws and disappointments, we can nevertheless pick ourselves up and look at things through a different window,” writes Tamar E. Chansky, a child psychologist, in her book “Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking: Powerful, Practical Strategies to Build a Lifetime of Resilience, Flexibility and Happiness.” “The thoughts are just one of many interpretations of a story, and choosing to consider just one or two of the alternatives releases you from the moment of being stuck.”

And, when kids do fall down, as we all do, remind them that the result wasn’t the end of the world.

“That’s really how you build resilience in kids and show them that we are not static people,” Miller said. “We are always changing, and that’s a critical part of life—that we are constantly learning and changing.”

Acknowledge failure is normal

“It’s important to have a family culture that acknowledges that failure is part of learning. In other words, mom and dad share their mistakes. We’re not perfect parents. We don’t try to act like we’re perfect parents. When we make mistakes—we lost a grant, we screwed up at work—then we talk about it. We don’t cover it up. And we point to it and say, ‘It happens to all of us and we wouldn’t be learning if it didn’t happen to all of us.’”

Be their ‘tour guide’

“The goal is not to airlift your child off the unhappy track to the happy track. Rather, it’s to work smarter, not harder—to learn the nuts and bolts of how your child’s thinking got her there in the first place, and to teach her how to be analytical and critical of that negative track so that she will choose to airlift herself to a different track, one that will lead to contentment and satisfaction. But you also need to be a tour guide, directing your child out of unhappy or challenging times. Just because your child (or you at times yourself) can’t see a way out of a problem doesn’t mean there aren’t several directions waiting to be discovered.

And you need to be in the know about the path to happiness, which researchers are finding over and over again is not paved with GPAs, SAT scores, salaries or big houses that we might expect. Instead, research tells us … that it is paved with engaging in meaningful and satisfying activities, staying connected to others and feeling gratitude for what one has.”

  • Login
  • navigation

    Startup

    • Best industries
    • Funding
    • Incubators
    • Business Plans
    • Naming
    • Home-Based Business
    • The Ups Store View
    • Strategy
    • Operations
    • Sales
    • Marketing
    • Customer Service
    • Franchises
    • Build
    • Safeguards
    • Peak Performance
    • Company Culture
    • Public Speaking
    • Hiring
    • HR/Benefits
    • Women Entrepreneurs
    • Productivity
    • Rising Stars

    Innovate

    • Creativity
    • Invent
    • Design
    • Pivot

    Technology

    • Cloud Computing
    • Social Media
    • Security
    • Data Detectives

    Money

    • Exit Interview
    • Personal Capital
    • Bootstrapping
    • Crowdfunding
    • Venture Capital
    • Borrowing
    • Business Models
    • Personal Finance

    Inc. 5000

    • Inc. 5000 Series: California
    • The 2019 US List
    • The 2019 Europe List
    • Apply Inc. 5000 US
    • Apply Inc. 5000 Europe

    Inc. BrandView

    • Cox Business
    • Deloitte
    • Intel
    • PPG
    • The UPS Store View
    • Whoop View
    • Principal
    • Branded Content

    Subscribe

    Subscribe

    • Watch
    • Guides

    Subscribe

    • Login
  • navigation

    Subscribe

    Subscribe

    Subscribe

    10 Simple Ways You Can Stop Yourself From Overthinking

    Here are 10 simple ideas to help overthinkers stop spinning their wheels.

    How to break free from negative thinking for good

    Overthinking doesn’t sound so bad on the surface–thinking is good, right?

    When you overthink, your judgments get cloudy and your stress gets elevated. You spend too much time in the negative. It can become difficult to act.

    If this feels like familiar territory to you, here are 10 simple ideas to free yourself from overthinking.

    1. Awareness is the beginning of change.

    Before you can begin to address or cope with your habit of overthinking, you need to learn to be aware of it when it’s happening. Any time you find yourself doubting or feeling stressed or anxious, step back and look at the situation and how you’re responding. In that moment of awareness is the seed of the change you want to make.

    2. Don’t think of what can go wrong, but what can go right.

    In many cases, overthinking is caused by a single emotion: fear. When you focus on all the negative things that might happen, it’s easy to become paralyzed. Next time you sense that you starting to spiral in that direction, stop. Visualize all the things that can go right and keep those thoughts present and up front.

    3. Distract yourself into happiness.

    Sometimes it’s helpful to have a way to distract yourself with happy, positive, healthy alternatives. Things like mediation, dancing, exercise, learning an instrument, knitting, drawing, and painting can distance you from the issues enough to shut down the overanalysis.

    4. Put things into perspective.

    It’s always easy to make things bigger and more negative than they need to be. The next time you catch yourself making a mountain out of a molehill, ask yourself how much it will matter in five years. Or, for that matter, next month. Just this simple question, changing up the time frame, can help shut down overthinking.

    5. Stop waiting for perfection.

    This is a big one. For all of us who are waiting for perfection, we can stop waiting right now. Being ambitious is great but aiming for perfection is unrealistic, impractical, and debilitating. The moment you start thinking “This needs to be perfect” is the moment you need to remind yourself, “Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.”

    6. Change your view of fear.

    Whether you’re afraid because you’ve failed in the past, or you’re fearful of trying or overgeneralizing some other failure, remember that just because things did not work out before does not mean that has to be the outcome every time. Remember, every opportunity is a new beginning, a place to start again.

    7. Put a timer to work.

    Give yourself a boundary. Set a timer for five minutes and give yourself that time to think, worry, and analyze. Once the timer goes off, spend 10 minutes with a pen and paper, writing down all the things that are worrying you, stressing you, or giving you anxiety. Let it rip. When the 10 minutes is up, throw the paper out and move on–preferably to something fun.

    8. Realize you can’t predict the future.

    No one can predict the future; all we have is now. If you spend the present moment worrying about the future, you are robbing yourself of your time now. Spending time on the future is simply not productive. Spend that time instead on things that give you joy.

    9. Accept your best.

    The fear that grounds overthinking is often based in feeling that you aren’t good enough–not smart enough or hardworking enough or dedicated enough. Once you’ve given an effort your best, accept it as such and know that, while success may depend in part on some things you can’t control, you’ve done what you could do.

    10. Be grateful.

    You can’t have a regretful thought and a grateful thought at the same time, so why not spend the time positively? Every morning and every evening, make a list of what you are grateful for. Get a gratitude buddy and exchange lists so you have a witness to the good things that are around you.

    Overthinking is something that can happen to anyone. But if you have a great system for dealing with it you can at least ward off some of the negative, anxious, stressful thinking and turn it into something useful, productive, and effective.

    How to break free from negative thinking for good

    Is your child easily fazed by setbacks, no matter how small?

    Kids who are prone to negative thinking may find it difficult to persevere with their schoolwork or hobbies, and they may find social interactions challenging, as they often come away feeling wounded. As parents, you can probably already see how these tendencies could affect the quality of your children’s lives well into adulthood.

    According to psychologist Tamar Chansky, who authored the book Freeing Your Child From Negative Thinking ( available at NLB ), children have the innate ability to engage in flexible thinking to deal with challenges — this is most apparent when they play video games, because they’re eager to face up to “enemies,” and willing to try again when defeated. Chansky says if we could find a way to help our children unlock this ability when dealing with real life, they would view life’s obstacles with the same enthusiasm, instead of feeling scared and discouraged.

    Read on for her expert advice on helping children to cultivate a “two-track mind” — one where negative thoughts don’t stick, but healthy ones do. This is one area where it doesn’t hurt to get an early start!

    Collect A Sample Of Your Child’s Thoughts

    To get an idea of your child’s thinking patterns, spend a few days (or up to a week) recording his or her thoughts in a notebook. You could ask your child, “What were you thinking about when you felt good today? What did you think about when you felt bad?”

    You can also call attention to your child’s thinking during interactions where they may be slightly upset. For instance, some children feel unhappy if others around them receive praise, including their siblings. This is a chance to find out what is driving their thinking — do they feel lacking in a skill, or are they insecure about your affections? Allowing your child to articulate his or her thoughts helps with self-awareness, which is the first step towards change.

    Teach Two Sides Of Thinking

    This is an exercise that you can carry out on a regular basis with your child, where you teach him or her that there are (at least) two ways to view any situation. For younger children, you can use two stuffed animals, such as a grumpy bear to represent a negative thinker, and a cheery-looking toy to represent a “smart thinker.” For older children, you could use two characters from real life as your inspiration — someone whom you associate with negative thinking (such as a grouchy relative) versus someone that your child respects and enjoys being around.

    When your child embarks on a negative train of thought — such as “I spilled my drink because I’m so clumsy… I’m not good at anything!” — it’s an opportunity to help him or her recognise that this is a negative lens. In contrast, you can suggest an alternate narrative, such as “It’s just a little accident. Everyone has them. I can clean it up easily. Nothing was damaged or harmed. It’s not a big deal.”

    How to break free from negative thinking for good

    The negative thinker tends to view an unwelcome event as being part of a larger pattern, and a symptom of one’s flawed existence. The healthy thinker, on the other hand, takes daily events less personally, and is in a better position to identify solutions and move on. (Do take note that your own responses to events could be shaping your child’s thinking as well.)

    Play A Game Of “Fortunately, Unfortunately”

    You don’t have to wait for a real-life teachable moment to get your message across. Chansky recommends playing a simple game that she calls “Fortunately, Unfortunately” to help your child develop flexible thinking skills.

    To play this game as a family, distribute blank notecards to each family member, and write down an “unfortunate” situation on each notecard, such as “Unfortunately, I got sick and had to stay home for a week.” Each family member then draws a card, and has to think of the silver lining, e.g. “Fortunately, I was excused from having to take my oral exam, which I was dreading!” You can extend the fun (and difficulty) of the game by building on a single situation until someone runs out of ideas, such as, “Unfortunately, my teacher said I would still have to take my exam when I return to school… but fortunately, the scores won’t be recorded in the report book.”

    With the practice acquired from this game, should a real-life challenge pop up, you can say to your child, “Are there any ‘fortunatelys’ in this situation?”

    Is This Permanent, Pervasive & Personal?

    Children who are negative thinkers tend to hold on to the 3Ps; in other words, they feel that everything in life is permanent, pervasive, and personal. If a friend is annoyed with them for the day, they may feel that the friend is “always” targeting them. If someone doesn’t smile at them, they may suspect it’s because the person dislikes them. If they should get a less-than-stellar grade for a class, they may lose motivation for the entire year.

    This is what Chansky calls “supersizing” a problem or situation. Your job is to help your child to “downsize” his or her interpretation of events, by focusing on specifics instead. Think of it as helping your child to play detective in analysing situations. For instance, his or her friend could’ve had a bad day, which resulted in the annoyance. Perhaps someone didn’t smile because they were in a hurry, or they were tired. If one gets a bad grade for a quiz, it doesn’t mean that one needs to give up on the entire class — what were the problem areas for the quiz, and where can one get answers or additional help?

    Don’t Fall In The Positivity Trap

    Negative thoughts are part and parcel of life — sometimes, they’re there to protect us from taking unnecessary risks and getting hurt. It’s not that your child needs to make a 180-degree turn to start being the most upbeat person around, and you shouldn’t try to quash every negative feeling with a positive aphorism. Instead, focus on cultivating the awareness that too many negative thoughts can be debilitating. If your child has the ability to identify some of these thoughts, and quell them with logical thinking, that’s all that it takes to move forward.

    Learn how to tap into the positive and manage the negative.

    By Patricia Harteneck, PhD

    How to break free from negative thinking for good

    Most of us spend a lot of time inside our own mind — worrying about the future, replaying events in the past, and generally focusing on the parts of life that leave us dissatisfied. While common, negative or unwanted thoughts can prevent you from enjoying experiences, distract you from focusing on what’s important, and drain your energy. They can also make you feel anxious and depressed.

    The good news is that with dedicated practice, you can replace negative thinking patterns with thoughts that actually help. This can make a huge difference in your day-to-day happiness and comfort.

    Try these 7 ways to manage (and decrease) your negative thoughts:

    1. Recognize thought distortions. Our minds have clever and persistent ways of convincing us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts reinforce negative thinking. If you can recognize them, you can learn to challenge them. Here are four common thought distortions:

    • Black and white thinking. Seeing everything as one way or another, without any in between.
    • Personalizing. Assuming you are to blame for anything that goes wrong, like thinking someone did not smile at you because you did something to upset her. (It’s more likely that person is having a hard day and her mood had nothing to do with you.)
    • Filter thinking. Choosing to see only the negative side of a situation.
    • Catastrophizing. Assuming the worst possible outcome is going to happen.

    2. Challenge negative thoughts. Whenever you have a distorted thought, stop and evaluate whether it is accurate. Think about how you would respond if a friend spoke about herself that way. You would probably offer a good rebuttal to his or her negative view. Apply the same logic to your own thoughts. Ask yourself if you are assuming the worst will happen or blaming yourself for something that has not gone the way you wanted. And then think about other possible outcomes or reasons that something turned out differently than you hoped.

    3. Take a break from negative thoughts. It is possible to learn how to separate from negative thoughts. One way to do this is to allow yourself a certain amount of time (maybe five minutes) with the thought. Then take a break from focusing on it and move on with your day.

    4. Release judgment. We all judge ourselves and others, usually unconsciously. Constantly comparing ourselves to other people or comparing our lives to some ideal breeds dissatisfaction. When you are able to let go of judgment (not easy, but possible), you will likely feel more at ease. Some ways to take a break from judgmental thoughts include recognizing your own reaction, observing it, and then letting it go. Another helpful technique is to “positive judge.” When you notice you are negatively judging a person, yourself, or a situation, look for a positive quality, too.

    5. Practice gratitude. Research shows that feeling grateful has a big impact on your levels of positivity and happiness. Even when you are experiencing a challenging time in your life, you can usually find things (even small things) to be grateful for. Noticing the things that are going well and making you feel happy will keep you in touch with them. Keeping a gratitude journal and writing a few things in it every day is one easy and effective way to do this.

    How to break free from negative thinking for good

    6. Focus on your strengths. It’s human nature to dwell on the negative and overlook the positive. The more you can practice focusing on your strengths and not dwelling on mistakes you’ve made, the easier it will be to feel positive about yourself and the direction your life is taking. If you find yourself thinking harsh thoughts about your personality or actions, take a moment to stop and think about something you like about yourself.

    7. Seek out professional support if you are unable to manage your thoughts or find they are interfering with your ability to meet your daily responsibilities or enjoy life. Counseling and therapy can help you weather life changes, reduce emotional suffering and experience self-growth.

    How to break free from negative thinking for good

    “See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.”

    Even though I’m a yoga teacher, I still find it’s easy to fall prey to negative thinking. Having negative thoughts play out like a movie can only bring you pain, something that I’ve experienced many times throughout my life.

    Negative thoughts drain you of energy and keep you from being in the present moment. The more you give in to your negative thoughts, the stronger they become. I like the imagery of a small ball rolling along the ground, and as it rolls, it becomes bigger and faster.

    That’s what one small negative thought can turn into: a huge, speeding ball of ugliness. On the contrary, a small positive thought can have the same effect blossoming into a beautiful outcome.

    I’d like to share with you an example of how one small thought can turn into a very negative experience.

    I have lived on my own for the last ten years. Obviously, during this time I’ve grown accustomed to living in a particular way; I have my routines with cooking, cleaning, and living happily in my place.

    My boyfriend of two years, who I have had a long distance relationship with, will soon be moving here and we will be living together. Lately I’ve had negative thoughts of moving in with him knowing that my living routine will have to change and we will have to create a new routine together.

    Unfortunately, I’ve already jumped into the future and have had thoughts that we will not be able to come up with a living arrangement that will make us both happy. In my mind I have seen myself already getting angry about our cooking and cleaning situation.

    He came for a surprise visit this past weekend, and boy, was it a surprise for him. We had a miserable weekend together.

    I did not enjoy his company because I was already angry with him, and he was confused and equally frustrated with me. What could have been a really fabulous weekend ended up being a painful and heavy weekend.

    When we start to have negative thoughts, it’s hard to stop them. And it’s much easier said than done to shift your focus to positive thoughts. But it’s the only way, especially if you want to avoid going down a path that is painful and unnecessary.

    Here are ten things I did to help overcome my negative thoughts that you can also try:

    1. Meditate or do yoga.

    One of the first things I did was head to a yoga class. It took my focus away from my thoughts and brought my attention to my breath. Yoga is also very relaxing, which helped ease my mind. Yoga helped me stay present to my experience so instead of jumping to what could happen, it brought me back to the now—the only moment, the most important moment.

    2. Smile.

    I didn’t do much of this during the weekend, so I literally had to bring myself in front of a mirror and force myself to smile. It really does help change your mood and relieve stress. I also felt lighter because it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown.

    3. Surround yourself with positive people.

    I called a friend who I knew could give me constructive yet loving feedback. When you’re stuck in a negative spiral, talk to people who can put things into perspective and won’t feed your negative thinking.

    4. Change the tone of your thoughts from negative to positive.

    For example, instead of thinking, “We are going to have a hard time adjusting to our living situation,” think, “We will face some challenges in our living situation, but we will come up with solutions that we will both be happy with.”

    5. Don’t play the victim. You create your life—take responsibility.

    The way I was thinking and acting, you would think I was stuck. Even if our living situation becomes unbearable, there is always a way out. I will always have the choice to make change happen, if need be.

    6. Help someone.

    Take the focus away from you and do something nice for another person. I decided to make a tray of food and donate it to the Salvation Army. It took my mind off of things and I felt better for helping someone else.

    7. Remember that no one is perfect and let yourself move forward.

    It’s easy to dwell on your mistakes. I felt terrible that I acted this way and that I wasted our weekend. The only thing I can do now is learn from my mistakes and move forward. I definitely don’t want to have a weekend like that again.

    8. Sing.

    I don’t remember lyrics very well and it’s probably the reason that I don’t enjoy singing, but every time I do sing I always feel better. When we sing, we show our feelings and this provides an amazing stress relief.

    9. List five things that you are grateful for right now.

    Being grateful helps appreciate what you already have. Here’s my list: my cats, health, a six-week trip to Asia, a new yoga class that I’ll be teaching, and for my mom’s biopsy coming out clean.

    10. Read positive quotes.

    I like to place Post-It notes with positive quotes on my computer, fridge door, and mirror as reminders to stay positive. Also, I’d like to share with you a quote by an unknown author that was shared in a meditation class that I attended:

    Watch your thoughts, they become words.
    Watch your words, they become actions.
    Watch your actions, they become habits.
    Watch your habits, they become your character.
    Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

    How to break free from negative thinking for good

    The process of thinking

    Thinking is such an activity, which, we use to process the information, solve the problems, make the decisions and we used to create new ideas. Every coin has two sides, similarly every thought has also two sides one is negative and the other is positive. We are using our ability to think in different purposes, firstly when we are making a plan, secondly asking questions, thirdly when we are making connections, fourthly when we make sense of experiences. Expert studies show that an average individual has not less than 60000 thoughts per day. It is a sad state of affairs that about 80% of the thoughts are negative. Moreover, 95% of the thoughts are repetitive.

    The impact of thinking negative thoughts are mainly affects your own personality. It is important to know that the way you think naturally affects your emotions and that emotions affect your true behaviour. Briefly, you are handling with negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, depression, apathy and sadness. Which may cause to feel quite hopeless at times.

    How to Break free from Negative Thinking?

    Never expect everything to be perfect. So, approach your negative thoughts with a positive mind.

    First of all, believe in yourself. Keep a custom by watching your thoughts very often. Whenever you found a negative thought then ask questions whether that specific thought good for you or not. You can also develop a positive routine and follow it strictly.

    Occasionally, take deep breathe because it is a good way to relax, reduce the tension and also relieve stress. Set individual minds to think positive and act upon the positiveness for good.

    We have to interact or communicate with people who are successful and happy in life. Learn from their strengths to improve our weaknesses.

    Copyright Notice