3 Ways to Handle Disturbingly Negative Thoughts

3 Ways to Handle Disturbingly Negative Thoughts


The human psyche has so many funky glitches that it’s a wonder we can all get along. Actually, on the whole, we have a very, very difficult time getting along, aren’t we?

This is why positive thinking resources are so necessary. They help us remain on the positive side of the mental equation. Still, what do we do when negative thoughts creep in?

Well, negativity begins in the mind, so let’s start with how it manifests and then discuss steps to take that will neutralize it.

Negativity can spontaneously manifest – and it often does so in a disturbing way. You may be sitting at lunch with a friend. Suddenly, a thought pops into your head: He’s so stupid. And look, his socks don’t even match.  You may be meeting with your boss or another authority figure. Suddenly, you feel the urge to go off, ranting about what a horrible supervisor he or she is.  You may even be cuddling with your romantic partner and begin to have doubtful, negative, and unfounded thoughts about his or her intentions.

Negativity can have a life of its own within our psyche, and we often feel helpless to do anything about it.  The question is – what can you do to manage the negative aspects of your mind effectively?

Here are three ways to handle disturbingly negative thoughts:

thoughts meme

 1. Realize that impulsive, critical, and even blatantly hostile is normal.

These thoughts are not “socially acceptable,” so few people want to admit what’s going on in their heads. Nevertheless, your average person’s mind can be a steaming cauldron of mischief.  I know this from 25 years of counseling and coaching very average people like me. My clients have always been well-adjusted, successful people with families, jobs, business ventures and adult responsibilities. Normal people.  Yet, when we dig around just a bit, even the nicest, most reserved people reveal a totally different and much darker version of themselves.

This is normal, normal, normal. I’ve never met anyone – anyone – from the average marijuana-smoking teenager to the most distinguished professional who wasn’t struggling on a deeper level with this stuff.

I remember when I first realized that my mind was ready to go off on people. I was standing in the office of the Mission President in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (At the time, I was a Mormon missionary from 19-21 and a devout Mormon until age 37).   Through hard work and dedication, I had risen through the ranks and landed a position as a special assistant to the president. This job was the envy of all power-hungry missionaries. Anyway, there we stood. The president was going on about necessary changes in the field and I was nodding along gravely.

I support you, Mr. President!

And then it hit me – the sudden urge to punch him in the face. I noticed my hand clenching and….Whoa! Hold on a second. Don’t punch your spiritual leader!

Then the voice, “Screw it. I’m going to lay this guy out right now!”

I said a silent prayer. I’m so sorry for my violent thoughts. Please give me the strength to respect my leader…

“Punch him! Punch that sucker!”

For six months I worked in the office of the president. And for six months I wanted to haul off and sock that guy in the face for no apparent reason (there was a reason – just not one I was aware of at the time). It was agonizing.

Ok? I’m a person, too. And this is all pretty normal from my perspective. If you are aware enough to notice your disturbing thoughts, congratulations. You are not alone. You’re in the company of every other human being who has ever existed. Trust me.

2. Thoughts are only thoughts; that is all they will ever be.

A thought is a tiny secretion of neurotransmitters. They happen to the tune of thousands per hour according to some estimates (actually, they can’t really be quantified since the brain never rests and is constantly processing an enormous amount of data). Some of this data rises to the surface where we give it conscious consideration and meaning.

Isn’t it interesting that we often give the negative stuff all the weight and dismiss the positive? These are your negative psychological attachments at work. Negative attachments are what keep us glued to inner angst. They’re powerful. I dedicated a book to this concept of clinging to inner negativity. It’s real – and everyone should be aware, as difficult as it is to admit.

Anyway, thoughts are just thoughts. They are neither good nor bad. They only have the significance that you give them. Can you stop taking them so seriously? If you can, then you’ll have more choices.

 3. There is a solution.

It’s not a magical solution. No one can wave a magic wand that will clean up your mind, turning you into pure, golden light. You’re a person; imperfect and vulnerable.

That said, if you are willing to address the deeper issues, you can achieve a purer, more relaxed mind a lot more often. In my experience, you won’t get there by battling each thought. This only sets you up for war within yourself.

You get there by dealing with your deeper issues.

For me, the deeper issue was one of resistance to authority. Growing up, those in authority over me consistently hurt or neglected me. At length, I came to the conclusion that they didn’t care or didn’t know what they were doing – and therefore, no authority figure ought to have any power over me. In fact, I guess I thought authority figures needed to be punished.

These are childish thoughts from a hurt child who didn’t understand that my parents and older siblings were just people struggling with their own issues. In my child mind, I didn’t care. I just wanted revenge.  This leads to problems throughout early adulthood. My rebel attitude only invited more intervention from authority – not less -which made me resent them all the more….vicious cycle.  The Rebel is one of the 12 attachment types that cause self-sabotage per the AHA Solution online program. I had to work through this one for quite some time. It was worth it.

Most of all, working on the deeper issues has allowed me the luxury of a quiet mind that rarely spins out of control. My mind does still get the best of me from time to time, but nothing like before. More than worth all the effort!


Final Thoughts on Managing Your Darkest Thoughts

What’s the deeper issue beneath your negative thoughts?

Identify it. Name the issue and square yourself with the truth. Then, you’ll have your work cut out for you. It’s doable. And a much better path than remaining at the mercy of your mental demons.

16 thoughts on “3 Ways to Handle Disturbingly Negative Thoughts

  1. The dwp sanctioning people who are too sick to work so are left to starve are made to feel depressed and anxious, no amount of positive thought will help, this is real and not all in the mind. It depends what your situation is, but some people are fighting real battles, it is difficult enough to fight disease and to deal with disabilities and pain but now these people are having to fight a very currupt system as well and the negativity in their lives is being forced onto them from an outside source, so really this kind of negativity does not start as a thought and is not trivial, but major life or death situations. Some people have more to worry about than whether or not their friends socks match! Many sick and disabled people are being forced to live in impossible circumstances in the UK and are constantly fighting 'real' demons that are actually physically knocking at the door. Innocent people are dying!!!

  2. The dwp sanctioning people who are too sick to work so are left to starve are made to feel depressed and anxious, no amount of positive thought will help, I have tried, this is real and not all in the mind. It depends what your situation is, but some people are fighting real battles, the negativity in their lives is forced onto them form an outside source, not trivial but major life or death problems some people have more to worry about than weather or not their friends socks match many sick and disabled people in the UK are fighting 'real' demons that are actually physically knocking at the door. People are dying!!!

  3. I have negative thoughts about people that spew their negative thoughts at me, with false gossip..,I actually creates a negative reaction within that is toxic….How do I tactfully Let Someone Know I Do Not Want to be Infected By Their Negitivity?……Usually I avoid the person, or hang up the phone by saying I'm busy…….But usually They have already dropped the gossip Negitivity bomb….,.,,,,Sometimes it takes days to cleanse my mind of their toxic information and then I have residue of negative thoughts of the person who spreads the toxicity…..,.,,,just by typing this has created thoughts of negativity! HELP!

  4. I needed this today. I think I have even figured out my deeper issue, which is a demanding attitude that my rights be recognized, and that everything be fair. I really need to identify where this comes from. Thanks for the roadmap to better, calmer mental health!

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Mike Bundrant is co-founder of the iNLP Center, offering multiple resources and coaching programs. (http://inlpcenter.org/personal-email-coaching-programs/) He is also author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage. http://www.amazon.com/Your-Achilles-Eel-Decisions-Self-Sabotage-ebook/dp Mike and his wife, Hope live and work together near San Diego, California. They work online while raising five children and dreaming of their next vacation.

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