9 Practical Ways to Stop Thinking Negative Thoughts
1. Don’t Cherish Negative Thoughts
This is a strange statement – how can anyone cherish negative thoughts? Yet I bet that you know a couple people, who cling on to their problems and misfortunes and take strange satisfaction in telling everyone how miserable they are. Usually these people are not looking for solutions, only for sympathy.
Although, even those of us with an optimistic outlook on life sometimes refuse to let go of negative thoughts or emotions, because we feel that our pride has been injured or because we believe that we have been treated unjustly. We let these thoughts go round and round in our mind, contemplating vindictive scenarios and coming up with new derogatory remarks. The question is – who are we helping with these thoughts? No one. Who are we hurting? Mostly ourselves.
2. Being Happy or Being Miserable?
A negative mindset is not an inherited quality. It is a choice. While we hold on to our own destructive emotions and thoughts, nobody else will be able to help us. We need to understand that we can start making conscious choices to stop thinking negative thoughts by cultivating inner peace, happiness and a feeling of gratitude.
3. Don’t Accept Negativity from Other People
Wherever we live, we will always meet people who criticize, gossip and are focused on finding negative in every person and every situation. But there is no reason why we have to ascribe to their view of the world. If we know we can not change the way they think, we can always choose not to be part of the conversation.
4. Look for a Positive Explanation
When someone is rude to us, we automatically attribute negative qualities to this person. Our thoughts do not go beyond this point. A cashier was not polite to us – she is a terrible person. A Porsche cuts in front of us – the driver must be an arrogant idiot. Kids are running around the restaurant – they must be spoiled brats or their parents must not care enough to educate them well.
I am sometimes guilty of making these assumptions too. But then I stop myself and look for a different explanation and I am often reminded how erroneous snap judgments may be.
The cashier may be rude to me, because she has worked 10 hours without a break. The driver may have cut in front of me, because there is serious emergency. Kids may be running around because they are tired of sitting. Is it really that bad if they are enjoying themselves?
When you look for a positive explanation to people’s negative actions it becomes very easy not to get offended and to deal with frustration. And most importantly, it helps you to avoid feelings of embarrassment and guilt, because you have judged someone unjustly.
Just because it seems too simple, it does not mean that the power of a smile and laughter should be diminished. It not only helps to trigger positive emotions, but also changes the way we present ourselves to the world. It is another conscious choice that we can make in our quest to stop thinking negative thoughts.
6. For Every Negative Thought Think 3 Positive
Neutralize the effect of negativity by balancing every negative thought with three positive ones. Not only will doing this stop the flow of negative thoughts, but it also helps us to regain clarity and optimism.
7. Take Care of Your Self-Image
Negative thoughts are not always triggered by other people or outside events. Often we direct them inwardly and become our own worst critique. Instead of cultivating a sense of self-worth and self-respect, we worry excessively over minor issues that can not even be called ‘faults’.
Healthy self-esteem and self-respect has nothing to do with arrogance or pride. It is something that allows us to maintain a more positive outlook on life and welcome feedback from other people.
8. Learn from Your Children!
Children have an amazing ability to cope with pain and negative emotions. I see it with my 5-year-old niece all the time.
A few days ago, she got scratched by her cat. There was only so much the poor animal could handle. And 15 minutes of playing the ‘baby’, while being wrapped in blankets and groomed with a Barbie brush did it for him. Fighting for his freedom, he accidentally scratched Veronica’s hand and of course, crying followed 2 seconds later. But it ended just as quickly, because let’s face it – the task of looking out of the window for an imaginary parrot and a monkey was a lot more fun than getting offended or dwelling on the pain.
If as adults, we could get into our mind that it does not make sense to dwell on negativity, when there are so many wonderful things happening around us, we would be much happier and much more fun to be with. Which brings us to the next point…
9. Distract Yourself
In the moment when you feel strong negative emotions, analyzing or trying to suppress them does very little good. What I found to be effective is a fun distraction or a positive activity, which directs thoughts away from the source of irritation and often makes us forget why we were mad or upset in the first place.
Do you let negativity get to you? Think about some other different steps you can take to stop thinking negative thoughts?
Start your New Year out with Positive Thoughts for the Future and watch your New Year blossom with possibilities.
You can download these tips as a pdf here: