Negative thinking is a common problem that we all deal with, probably more often than we would like to admit! Some of us are so accustomed to speaking negatively to ourselves that we don’t even realize that we are doing it. Luckily, there are many strategies available to help us stop negative thoughts and replace them with positive truths.
Whether we are comparing our success to that of someone else, or beating ourselves up for a minor error, negativity affects us on many levels.
It becomes more difficult for our brains to find opportunities for gratitude, happiness, and growth. Negative self-talk makes it easy to stay stuck in cycles of insecurity, anxiety, and depression.
Where do negative thoughts come from?
Many people begin engaging in damaging thoughts during adolescence, which is a period of life with enormous pressure to conform. In adolescence, we really start to compare ourselves to others as a way to measure our self-worth.
Another source of negative thoughts is something called cortisol. You see, cortisol is a chemical that your brain produces to alert you of danger. It is terrific that your mind uses cortisol to protect you in this way, but it often confuses life-threatening danger with situations that aren’t actually dangerous.
Like dopamine, cortisol makes your brain feel good, so your mind quickly resorts to worry in no time!
Negative thoughts also come from hurtful things said about us by others, stressful situations, and past heartbreaks.
Today, we will take a look at how to stop negative thoughts and start thinking positively!
Get it all out on paper.
Often, you are unaware of all the negative thoughts you are carrying around in your brain. Sometimes, these thoughts live in our subconscious and torment us from afar. Like a good spring cleaning session, it’s essential to clean the negativity out of the corners of your mind to make room for new ways of thinking.
Grab a journal or a notepad and write down every negative thought that lives inside your brain. You might be surprised at how ugly some of these thoughts are, but don’t let it slow your roll! Getting all of your dark thoughts out on paper will allow you to come to terms with it.
Burn your list
After you have cleaned out every negative message from your mind, it’s time to get rid of this list of lies! Spend some time reviewing your list and commit to yourself that it’s time to start thinking differently.
In a safe place (preferably outdoors), set your list on fire and watch it burn. Let this act be an outward symbol of your commitment to inward change.
Change the cassette tape.
Remember good old cassette tapes? Most millennials do. We all have a metaphoric cassette tape playing in our brains filled with messages that we play on repeat.
For most people, the words on their cassette tapes are negative and demeaning.
For your brain to start thinking differently, you need to change the cassette tape! Choose one positive affirmation to focus on each day, and play it on repeat. If you’re looking for some affirmations to get you started, check out my List of 131 Affirmations!
In all honestly, changing the cassette tape in your brain takes time and practice. We call this practice reprogramming the mind.
Every time a negative thought appears in your consciousness, redirect that thought to your positive affirmation. It takes time and effort because you are literally creating new neurological pathways in your brain (how cool is that?!). But, like forwarding your mail to a new address, your mind will learn to redirect automatically.
Make it visible
A great strategy to stop negative thoughts is to physically surround yourself with positive thoughts. Write down a few positive affirmations on index cards or sticky notes. Then, put those notes in your car, in your locker, or on your bathroom mirror.
It might be cheesy, yes, but the physical presence of positive messages in your daily life will bring nothing but positivity to your day!
Use a mindset app
Positive thinking – there’s an app for that! Actually, several mindset apps exist to keep you thinking positively throughout the day. For example, the Shine app features a library of audio meditations for quick pick-me-ups to stop any negative thoughts.
There’s also a “check-in” calendar to get you in touch with your daily moods and emotions. On top of that, Shine has a discussion page where the community supports and encourages one another.
Mantra is another excellent app with a massive library of positive affirmations. It also provides meditation materials and will automatically send you one affirmation a day. The I Am app, and the Motivation app have similar features as well!
Treat your mind like a muscle.
It’s important to remember that your brain is a muscle that you are training, just like any other muscle in your body. You don’t expect to do five pushups and suddenly have killer triceps, do you? (Okay, maybe I expect that a little bit. I’m always dismally disappointed.)
In the same way, you can’t expect your mind to stop thinking negative thoughts overnight. Give yourself time to train your brain to think differently. Remember that change is the product of consistency and perseverance. You’ve got this!
Release yourself from comparison
One of the nastiest poisons you can inject into your brain is the poison of comparison. Comparison will eat away at your soul, ignite your worries, and destroy your self-confidence.
Seriously, girl, it is not worth it to go there. Everyone is on their own path in life with their own set of struggles and heartbreaks. No two people are just alike, and no two people have the same set of circumstances.
Appearances are rarely what they seem. Most people you compare yourself to are likely busy comparing themselves to someone else. There’s an excellent chance they are dealing with negative thoughts themselves.
Don’t let anyone detract power from your journey. It belongs to you and only you!
If you’re ready to get serious about stopping negative thoughts, it’s time to begin a regular meditation practice! A terrific place to start is my post, The Power of Practicing Affirmations, or my free mindset training, 7 Days to Self-Discipline.
It’s Time to Stop Negative Thoughts
I’m so proud of you for making the decision to start thinking positively! You will be amazed at the change that retraining your mind can bring to your life.
I am not a medical expert in any way. If you have serious concerns about your mental health, please contact a professional physician immediately.