We all have negative thoughts. There isn’t a single person in this world that has 100% positive thoughts all the time. They can be anything from bad thoughts about how you look to horrible thoughts about how nobody likes you.
Now, these thoughts are usually dramatized. They don’t accurately depict a situation, and that’s why they usually drag you down. You get in a bad mood, you isolate yourself from other people, and sometimes you even give up whatever you’ve been working so hard on. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be like that forever.
Why our own negative thoughts hurt us the most
The strange thing is that if we heard someone else say some of these things about us, we may roll our eyes or not even pay them any mind. But when our own thoughts start saying horrible things about ourselves, we take it so personally, and it affects us much more.
The reason for this is because when it’s our own mind thinking such bad things, it shocks us more than if someone else says it to us. Many of us know that other people may say bad things, but if you’ve grown past caring what other people think, it doesn’t bother you. But you do care what YOU think of yourself, and that’s why it hurts so much.
How to stop having reoccurring negative thoughts that drag you down
Our brains may be assholes that think bad things about us sometimes, but they’re also miraculous at training themselves to STOP thinking those thoughts. You can actually trick your brain into thinking positively on a regular basis. [Read: Is your negative thinking ruining your life?]
If you have negative thoughts that are disrupting your life, then you have to do something about them before they drag you down. This is how you can retrain your brain and stop those negative thoughts the second they pop up.
#1 Distract yourself. You need a distraction from your negative thoughts. More than likely, if you’re bored or have some time to just sit and do busy work, your brain is probably going a hundred miles a minute. And that can be dangerous if you’re a negative thinker.
For example, if you’re thinking about something really negative, distract yourself by counting the books on your bookshelf or turning on some music and singing or mouthing the words to it. These will help cast aside the negative thought so you can get back to thinking reasonably. [Read: How to master self-talk and banish negativity]
#2 Think of 3 positive things for every negative. This is something that you can do to balance out the negative thoughts and even replace them with something positive. This usually works best when you’re feeling down about yourself, but it can work with most negative thoughts.
For example, when you start thinking something bad about yourself, you have to force yourself to think about 3 good things about yourself for every 1 negative thought. So, if you mentally say your skin sucks, you can combat that thought with saying 3 things you really like about how you look.
#3 Get rid of negative people. Negative people have a tendency to bring down everyone who’s near them. These are the people who verbalize their own negative thoughts, and by hearing them yourself, you then start to think about negative things.
The more you’re around people like this, the more you start to think like them. So, if you notice that certain people set you off and make you think negatively, it’s time to get rid of them and cut them out of your life. [Read: How to stop negative people from sapping your energy]
#4 Write them down and throw them out. This is a psychological way you can kind of “throw away” those negative thoughts. Keep a little notepad with you, and any time you have a bad thought about something, write down what it is, rip out the paper, and throw it away.
This can help your mind process the information, and when you visually see it being thrown away, your brain kind of does the same thing with the thought. It casts it away and gets rid of it for the time being.
#5 Look on the bright side. There is always a bright side to any situation or thought. Many times, when something doesn’t go our way or the way we expected it to, our minds can become full of negativity about it – and it’s really harmful.
Instead of thinking negatively, force yourself to see the bright side. Say to yourself, “yes, this is unfortunate but… ” and then find that one positive in the midst of your negative thoughts. Even one little bit of positivity can help you get rid of those negative thoughts. [Read: How to be happy in life and live life to its fullest]
#6 Warm up. Literally! This has been scientifically proven to work really well. If you feel like you’re becoming negative, warm up your body in some way. Drink tea, take a hot shower, keep a heated blanket on you, etc.
Studies have shown that people who do this report much fewer negative thoughts than people who are cold. The temperature that you are has a link to your thought process. So, the warmer you are, the more positive you are.
#7 Stop “mind reading” and come up with likely excuses instead. This is something a lot of us do. When we don’t get that text back from the person we really wanted, we often think, “Well, they just don’t like me,” or “They’re annoyed, and that’s why they won’t respond.”
Instead of those negative thoughts about the situation, think about logical explanations. Maybe they’re busy at work. Maybe they’re in the shower. Maybe they’re at the gym. All of those are more likely and reasonable than your negative thoughts. [Read: Life’s a bitch? 17 feel-good ways to make yourself feel better]
#8 Take responsibility for the good. Too many of us focus on our failure and beat ourselves up about them. But then we never give ourselves a pat on the back for doing good things.
When you’re always pushing the positive to the back of your mind and not acknowledging it, it makes the bad things you do seem that much worse. And this drags your whole mind into a negative state. [Read: How to stop overthinking – 11 strategies for more peace]
#9 Smile. The funny thing about your brain is that it can be tricked. You can actually make yourself happy by smiling – even if you’re in a terrible mood. When your mind senses that you’re smiling, it kind of says to itself, “Well, I must be happy since I’m smiling,” and it turns on all the positivity in your mind, and it makes you happy.
#10 Do something relaxing. A lot of us get far too stressed out in today’s society. That’s just how life is in this day and age. Stress eats us alive and leaves us feeling drained and negative.
The best thing for you to do to get rid of negative thoughts is to regularly do something relaxing. Make sure you’re getting out that stress somehow. If it’s going to the gym, reading a book, drinking a glass of wine, taking a bath, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re relaxing, you’ll get rid of those negative thoughts.