Are your thoughts constantly negative? Do you notice that you feel more down than you usually do? Is it difficult for you to think of anything positive? These are all signs that you’ve let negativity take over your life.
But all is not lost. You can learn to expel negative thoughts and invite positive ones by changing certain habits and behaviors.
10 Ways To Get Negative Thoughts Out, And Let Positive Thoughts In
1. Look For Good Things
Every dark cloud has a silver lining. Yes, it’s a bit of an old cliché, but that doesn’t make it less true. When negative thoughts come, look for something positive in it. You can do this by asking yourself questions such as:
- What’s the positive side of this situation?
- How would a trusted family member or best friend help me through this?
- Is there anything I can learn from the situation?
- What’s the silver lining here?
Once this is done, shift your thoughts even further and look for more positive things in your everyday life. For every negative thought, find one good thing to love about the world. It can be as small or as big as you want. Some examples include:
- A happy news story
- A type of food you like
- Good people in your life
- Cute or funny animals
- An amusing Internet post
- The happiness of your loved ones
2. Separate Yourself From Negative Thoughts
Negative thoughts will never define you. No matter how strong or powerful they feel, their grip over you is temporary and has no bearing on your actual abilities.
Still, it’s easy to be taken aback by negative thoughts, especially when they feel like they’re coming right out of nowhere. You attach additional bad thoughts to them, and they grow and grow with only your mind as their foundation.
At the moment, those thoughts feel very much like a part of you. You can hardly separate yourself from them because of how overwhelming they are. But instead of letting them rule you, do the following.
- Step 1: Acknowledge these thoughts. Recognize them for what they are, don’t just ignore them.
- Step 2: Look at your thoughts as though it’s from an outsider’s perspective. Do not interact with them. As funny as it sounds, just say, “Oh look, bad thoughts.”
- Step 3: Treat the thoughts as a guest. You have the right to request that they leave.
Conversely, if you want positive thoughts, you can also treat them like guests – just invite them in instead of kicking them out!
3. Determine The Root Cause and Replace It
What is the root cause of your negative thoughts? If you don’t know where they come from, you can’t curb them. You may end up continually exposing yourself to triggers for negative thoughts without preparing or bracing yourself in advance, even when it’s unnecessary for you to be putting yourself into those situations in the first place. Some common non-specific root causes of negative thoughts are:
Anxiety can often fill your head with negativity, and you may even convince yourself that all your fears will come true.
You may have fallen into a habit of negative thinking that has become the norm for you over the months and years, making it difficult to stop.
· Negative Company
If you’re around toxic people who don’t practice positive thinking, you’re going to wind up thinking as they do.
· Emotional Baggage
Residual issues from your past may be stopping you from engaging in better thought patterns.
Some common specific root causes of negative thoughts are:
- Media, such as magazines, news, websites, podcasts, and more
- Triggers for anxiety, depression, or trauma responses
- Certain colleagues, friends, or family members
4. Focus On The Now
Thinking about the future is important for planning purposes, but overly focusing on what is to come will do you no good. After all, though you can prepare for it and make goals for it, you cannot definitively know what is going to happen in the future.
Similarly, thinking about the past is important for self-reflection, which has positive effects on one’s sense of self and mental state. But focusing too much on the past is pointless as you can’t change what’s happened before.
Instead, focus on the now. Live your life one day at a time, embrace everyday challenges, and consider the fact that what you do matters today more than what you’ve done in your past, and it is also what will shape your future.
5. Be Positive To Others
Sometimes, inviting in positive thoughts on your own can be tricky, especially when negativity has ruled your mind for so long. But you can coax them into your life by being good to the people around you and encouraging positive thoughts in them. It doesn’t take much to be positive to others. You can:
- Take extra care to be polite to everyone you meet
- Be a willing listener in a conversation
- Interact with others in an enthusiastic manner
If you feel like it, you can also go out of your way (even just a little) to be extra compassionate or helpful. Making others happy will likely make you happy too:
- Offer someone a kind smile or greeting
- Compliment someone on their appearance, abilities, or qualities
- Help someone out with a favor
- Give someone some encouraging words
- Offer a kind ear or shoulder to someone who needs to vent
- Donate to charity, whether in the form of money or items
- Volunteer your time and effort to a non-profit you believe in
6. Talk About It
Keeping your negative thoughts bottled up can cause you a lot of pain. You may think you’re doing well, but these thoughts will eventually spill over and become impossible to control. So learn to express those thoughts before they build up over you.
You can speak to a friend, family member, or other trusted person in your life about your troubles, or even seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. If talking is difficult at first, you can write in a journal or make art to express the negativity, but the goal is to be able to talk about these problems eventually.
Talking to another person is a great way to hear alternate perspectives. Even if you’re not looking for advice, you can still learn from the people you speak to. This allows you to receive positive thoughts from them.
7. Change Your Body Language
Body language plays a huge role in your positive thinking and overall outlook. In fact, some studies recommend the use of movement-based treatments for depressive disorders!
Body language is extremely powerful. It’s an excellent tool for communication and empathy, and it can even speak louder than your actual words can sometimes. This may be why it can even influence how you think.
Think about it. Smiling helps reduce stress in the body because of the muscles specifically engaged when you grin. So is it really so farfetched to imagine that your overall body language can send good or bad messages to your brain?
Essentially, you may be able to let go of negative thoughts while encouraging positive ones by changing your body language. Try:
- Dropping your shoulders back
- Calm the muscles of your face and open your expression
- Don’t cross your legs and arms defensively
- Keep your mouth visible when you speak
This prevents stress from being triggered in the body and encourages a more relaxed stance and thought process overall.
8. Practice Gratitude
One of the best ways to invite positivity while locking out negativity is by practicing gratitude. Sometimes, all the negative thoughts can make you forget about the positive things in life.
Studies have found that gratitude can actually increase happiness and positive thinking over time. A great way to practice gratitude is by keeping and maintaining a gratitude journal where you write things in it daily that you are grateful for.
Even on days when you’re at your worst, you can likely still find something to be grateful for. Ideas include:
- Access to food and clean water
- A roof over your head
- Loved ones
- Good health
- Your job or education level
- The ability to pay certain bills
9. Change How You Talk About Yourself
A lot of your negative thoughts may be caused by the fact that you continue to encourage them through negative self-talk. You may say things like:
- “I don’t think I can do that.”
- “Ugh, I’m such a (negative trait).”
- “I’m always so bad at that.”
While they seem harmless and may even be played off as jokes, sometimes, these words eventually get to us. If you repeatedly insult someone, they will slowly learn to believe it – so why would it be any different for yourself?
Start using positive affirmations when you talk about yourself. Instead of putting yourself down, choose neutral statements, like:
- “I don’t know how to do that.”
- “That was a mistake on my part.”
- “I’m not comfortable doing that task.”
- “I’m still learning how that works.”
You can also try saying positive affirmations to yourself every day. Stand up in front of a mirror in your home and say these things to yourself. Here are some examples of affirmations.
- “I am strong and capable.”
- “I’ll attract positivity.”
- “I do my best, and good things come to me.”
Be kind and gentle with yourself. Speak to yourself as you would a much-loved friend!
10. Do A Workout
Working out seems like cliché advice for letting out negativity, but it’s said so often because it truly works. Exercising and sweating things out helps you to express negative thoughts easily while also producing feel-good hormones.
It doesn’t have to be a full-on difficult workout. Just a little physical activity for 20 to 30 minutes can have a great effect on your thoughts. Here are some examples of types of exercises that you can do:
- Go for a walk or a jog
- Lift weights
- Do yoga
- Garden or do chores
- Ride a bicycle
Final Thoughts on Ridding Your Mind of Negative Thoughts
No one wants to be plagued by negative thoughts constantly. By learning to alter certain bad habits, you’ll be able to replace the negativity with positivity. It can be a challenge at first, but with enough effort and hard work, you’ll be able to wave goodbye to days filled with bad headspaces.