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How to Stop Negative Thoughts – Techniques & Exercises

How to Stop Negative Thoughts – Techniques & Exercises

This is a guest post by Helen Wilson.

  • “I’m not smart enough”
  • “Today I am uglier than yesterday”
  • ‘I’m sure they don’t like me”
  • “I won’t get a job”

If you don’t recognize yourself in these thoughts, congratulations! But if you wake up in the morning thinking something similar to the mentioned above, this article is for you.

It’s easier to think about negative things than positive ones. This is how a person protects himself and tries to prevent something that may never happen. But in most cases, these thoughts limit us, become an obstacle to career or personal growth, prevent us from achieving great results.

Negative thoughts in the mind attract negative life experiences. And the stronger these negative thoughts are, the more destructive the events will be. It’s not even the power of attraction or the materialization of thoughts; it’s just the way you think is the way you act. In other words, thinking about your worthlessness, you subconsciously will do everything to find proof of the thought in real life.

The only difficulty is negative thoughts give us an inflow of strong (though negative) emotions that give us specific satisfaction. Moreover, the poorer in events and emotions our life, the more drama happens in our heads.

To remove negative thoughts and not attract extremely painful events into your life, these four powerful psychological approaches for overcoming negative thouths are highly recommended!

Technique #1 – “Cutting off”

As soon as you feel negative thoughts “inflamed” in your mind, take them and simply cut them off. Literally. Imagine yourself picking up scissors or a knife and cutting them off from the stream of thoughts, like a paper picture.

There is no need to analyze a negative though, no need to argue with it, no need to defend yourself against it. Just mentally cut it off from you and put something else in its place. Something beautiful and pleasant.

The key principle here is that you have to do it immediately, at the very moment you feel the thought appearing in your head.

Technique #2 – “Sticker”

The technique is as follows: instead of getting rid of or cutting off a negative thought, you simply move away from it and observe it from the side. It’s like you stick it on the refrigerator, and you’re looking at it, evaluating it the way the audience is evaluating the performance. At the same time, you need to be strictly in the 3rd position (the position of the observer), not allowing to take possession of yourself in the process. Imagine this negative thought has appeared in the head of someone else, and you are just analyzing it. Watch your thoughts while doing the following:

  • What do I think about this?
  • What do I feel?
  • What advice would I give to a person with such a thought?

But mark the thought itself in quotation marks, thus defining its place. And you just observe it, giving it a rating.

Related article: How to improve your critical thinking skills

Technique #3 – “Exaggeration”

Another cool way to deal with negative thoughts – to blow them out to the point of absurdity. The goal is to throw off the importance, to make it funny, to play with it. Just like in Harry Potter, when the students had to make fun of their fears.

Imagine the situation. You are a salesman who cannot come to a potential client because of the fear of rejection. In this case, you need to tell yourself: “Fine, I can’t sell anything. Because I’m afraid. What exactly am I afraid of? Well, what if I come to the man, he will open the door and hit me? And then a crowd of people with water will come and begin to water me while mocking me. And then I’ll be hurt, ashamed, all wet and beaten up… Then they will set the dogs at me. And so I’m all wet, all bitten up and battered, and I go back to the office. And you know what’s in there?  There, all the colleagues put up posters with the words “Idiot, why did you come back? looking at me and giggling contemptuously.”.

Pure absurdity, don’t you agree? But it is the absurdity that can deprive a negative thought of its power.

Technique #4 – “Confrontation”

Another way to clear your head of negative thoughts is to contradict them. But contradict not with words, but with images, pictures. As soon as the thought “I will not be able to complete the sale” occurs to you, you should replace it with a completely contradicting thought and the accompanying visual series. Consider how simple it is to make a sale.

If the thought occurs to you, “I will never make the money I want”, you should instantly counter it by telling yourself, “I will undoubtedly achieve enormous financial success”. As soon as you think, “I’m good for nothing, I’m not capable of anything”, you must say to yourself, “I’m capable of everything, I’m a very unusual, extraordinary person, I have lots of talents”, and so on.

The technique is very effective because it is absolutely impossible to think about negative and positive things at the same time. Consciousness is capable of thinking about one thing at a time. Therefore, if you throw a negative thought out of your mind and put in a positive one, you deprive the negative thought of its power.

Related article: How to change your mindset for success

Practical exercises

Besides psychological techniques, exists several exercises to help you focus and release negativity. Try to take a piece of paper, draw a dot, and stare at it for a minute. At first, it may seem annoying, but if you concentrate, the exercise really helps.

You can also concentrate on the points of your body. For example, put your hand on your breast and try to concentrate on the heartbeat. These meditative practices are very convenient because they can be done anywhere if you feel bad thoughts won’t let you go.

In addition, various breathing exercises and meditation help. Everything depends on the desire. If you force yourself to do something, just to free your mind from bad thoughts, then it will, on the contrary, give only negative results.

When negative thoughts take hold, it is important to switch over and take an action. You can take a walk or eat something. Yes, eat, or rather, have a snack. The body has to understand that everything is all right.

Another well known piece of advice is practice writing, for example, to write an essay about something distractive or write out everything that goes on in your head to empty your mind. Later, you can tear or burn the pages – literally throwing out unnecessary thoughts. At the same time, the expert strongly recommends not to put additional strain on yourself. If you have a lot of worries in your head, you shouldn’t even read literature about it.

Working with the elements

Fire, water, air, and earth also help fight stress. Planting and watering flowers and plants, roasting something on fire (of course, not in the city) or lighting aroma candles, taking a bath are all effective ways to combat melancholy.

Creative techniques

Another way to clear your mind of negative thoughts is to draw with your eyes closed or with a hand you are not used to. If you’re right-handed, try drawing with a pencil in your left hand; if you’re left-handed, try the opposite. You can also try to create a picture with your fingers or feet.

Singing, dancing, reading poems (you can choose according to your mood and read aloud) – all this can help get rid of negative thoughts.

You can also cope with negative thoughts with the help of aroma oils, blankets, and affirmations.

1. Stop fighting bad thoughts

The more you develop negative thoughts, think through the details and solutions, the more you only increase their significance and weight. You begin to unconsciously wind yourself up and follow this thought. Fool your brain, change your attitude towards it, become aware of this thought, thank, and let it go. This way you will free yourself from tension and can tune in to positive emotions.

Related article: How to stop negative intentions – Hanlon’s Razor

2. Include affirmations in your daily schedule

These are positive attitudes that help increase self-esteem, become more confident, and begin to believe in yourself and your strength. But it takes constant daily practice to make the method work. By the way, scientific research has confirmed the effectiveness of affirmations.

3. Consider negative thoughts as advice from an annoying passerby

When negative thoughts pop into your head, just imagine that it is unsolicited advice from the first person you meet that you do not intend to follow. Say thank you to that thought and move on. This is an effective strategy that helps you control and manage your thoughts and emotions.

4. Fall asleep under a heavy blanket

Frequently negative thoughts come to us just before going to sleep, we begin to worry and can not fall asleep for a long time. In this case, a heavy blanket from 2 to 13 kg can help, covering with which you can overcome anxiety. This may be due to the pressure of the blanket on the body, which thereby relaxes and relieves tension. Or the grounding effect, which improves sleep and reduces stress levels.

Related article: Reasons for poor sleep

5. Do aromatherapy

Different scents help us change our mood, sleep better and more soundly, or, conversely, wake up faster. Of course, aroma oils will not solve your problems and will not knock out negative thoughts, but they will definitely help you relax. For good and sound sleep, the aroma of mint, vanilla, tea rose is suitable. The smell of lemon will help you wake up faster, the scent of orange can improve your mood. You can stock up on essential oils and add them to your bath, aroma lamp, or humidifier.

The power of thought and belief is enormous. Thoughts lift a man up, and can just as easily drop him into the depths. Look at great leaders, famous artists, and athletes who bring what they want to see in their lives. Because for them it is the norm of life. They have no negative thoughts. 

Inner dialogue, what people usually call “thinking”, is nothing more than the conversations you have with yourself. And these constant conversations affect the way you communicate with the rest of the world around you. They also have a powerful effect on how you treat yourself. The way you talk to yourself (mentally) is a form of communication as if you were talking to another person. Keep in mind that criticizing yourself has the same effect as if someone close to you were doing it. For example, if a family member kept telling you that you were stupid, useless, and couldn’t do anything right, how would you feel? When you criticize yourself, you feel the same negative emotions that you would if someone else did it to you.

Be kinder to yourself and others, try to celebrate at least three positive things every day. Apply the techniques of getting rid of intrusive negative thoughts from this article and soon your consciousness, and consequently, your life will change for the better.

Also, keep in mind that negative thoughts only have power over you if you react to them.

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