Negative thoughts can pop into your head when you aren’t expecting it and it can ruin even the most wonderful day. You’re talking to a friend or just driving to work and bam, a negative thought loop starts making chatter in your head! It’s easy to get down on yourself when these unhelpful statements arise. But instead of feeling defeated (and depleted) in the face of that negative inner voice, you can learn how to overcome it. With a little practice, you can turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts and get on with your day in peace. Here are five ways to combat your negative thoughts!
1. Be Prepared
Understand that negative thoughts are part of life and they will never go away completely. However, what can change is how you respond to them and how you choose to act as a result. Because you know that these thoughts will inevitably come up from time to time, you might consider having a stock response you can say back to the negative chatter like:
“I hear you, but you’re over-exaggerating.”
“Thank you for popping up but you’re not telling the truth.”
Acknowledge the thoughts but take their power away.
2. Write Them Down
Often when we put pen to paper, we take some of the authority away from negative thoughts—we can see how overblown or even ridiculous they can be. The next time an unproductive statement floats through your head, jot it down in a journal or by using the notes feature on your smartphone. Seeing the words will change your perspective on them and you’ll be able to brush them off more easily.
3. Watch Out for Triggers
Certain people and situations may make us more prone to negative thoughts. Start noticing who and what these are, then decide if these are healthy interactions for you. If family members or coworkers tend to provoke negativity, there’s not much you can do to get away from them—at least not for good. However, you’ll at least have the knowledge that those individuals tend to bring out that negative voice. Being aware will help you better deal with that voice in the moment.
4. Assess Their Validity
One key question to ask yourself when negative thoughts come up is whether or not the statements in your head are actually true. Chances are, they are not. Maybe the words are partially true, or were true in the past but these thoughts are likely not a reflection of your true reality. Delineating the difference between fact and fiction will also help take the power away from the negative thoughts.
5. Keep Positive Affirmations Handy
Counter the negativity with something positive. If the same negative thoughts tend to run through your head, think about something specific you could say in response that’s optimistic or confident. For instance, if you look in the mirror and think “I need to lose five pounds,” or “I’m not as attractive as I used to be,” challenge yourself to say “I love my body,” or “I’m proud of the person I am today.” This way, you’ll end the conversation, so to speak, on a note of empowerment. If needed, write down affirmations on post-its that you can stick on your mirror, your laptop or at your desk—wherever you find yourself thinking those negative thoughts the most.