5 Tricks to Stop Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts creep up on us when we least expect them, usually while stressful occasions. Even if you have a positive outlook most of the time, negative thoughts can appear sometimes and make you unhappy. Negative thinking isn’t necessarily bad; it can alert us to potential dangers. 

The problem comes when those negative thoughts become persistent, distorted. In this blog post, we will explore 5 tricks you can use to stop those negative thoughts in their tracks. It might take some practice to implement these tips in your day-to-day life, but you need to try them.

Keep a journal of your thoughts

Keeping a journal is a great way to explore your feelings. When you’re feeling anxious or worried, write down exactly what you’re thinking. Journaling is a great way to understand your negative thinking patterns, so you can better shift your thoughts as they occur. You can record how you felt, how the situation made you feel, and how you want the situation to be in the future. Another journaling technique is called visual journaling. With this technique, you draw your thoughts and feelings in picture form. Once you’re finished, you can do with your drawings whatever you’d like, 

Recognize that negative thoughts are normal

Think about the last time you felt super confident and sure of yourself:

  • How did you feel? 
  • Were you worried about what other people were thinking about you? 
  • Were you worried about making mistakes? 

Now, think about the last time you felt anxious or worried:

  • Did you obsess about people thinking negatively of you? 
  • Did you worry about making mistakes? 
  • Did you wonder what you should do with your life? 

Numerous factors can cause feelings of anxiety, such as genetics, environment, and trauma, but negative thinking is often the catalyst that triggers these feelings. Such negative thoughts are not facts, they are just thoughts. You are in control of how you respond to those thoughts and what you do with them.

Talk to yourself like you would a friend

Similar to writing a letter, you can talk to yourself like you would a friend. You can either talk out loud to yourself, or you can write a letter in your journal. Talk to yourself like you would a friend, with compassion, love, and kindness. 

Another way to do this is to imagine that you are a loved one and that you are saying what you need to hear. You can do this with a loved one or with your favorite childhood stuffed animal. You can even do this with a photo of yourself. Whatever is easiest for you. You can talk about how you are feeling or you can talk about what you need to do next. You can also do both. Make the talk as positive and comforting as possible.

Write a letter to yourself

This is similar to talking to yourself like you would a friend, but it’s done through writing. Just like with the journaling exercise, imagine that you are talking to yourself like you would a friend. Like with the talking exercise, you can talk about how you’re feeling or you can talk about what you need to do next. You can also do both. Make the letter as positive and comforting as possible. You can either keep the letter in your journal or you can actually send the letter to yourself. What you write in the letter can depend on what you need to hear or what you need to be reminded of at that moment in time.

Meditate and breathe deeply

This may sound like a strange thing to do when you’re trying to stop negative thoughts, but meditation actually helps you notice the thoughts you’re having. Noticing your thoughts without letting them consume you is key to changing how you feel. While you may not be able to completely stop your thoughts, you can notice them and choose how to respond to them. You may not be able to change the situation you’re thinking about, but you can change the way you respond to it. If a stressful thought pops into your mind, acknowledge it, then let it go.

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