How do i get rid of negative thoughts

13 Ways To Overcome Negative Thought Patterns

You view the world through your mental attitude. If that attitude is predominantly negative, it can impact everything, including health, career, family, and more. Furthermore, negative thinking can have a spiraling effect that attracts more negative thinking.

Luckily, we can slowly train ourselves over time on how to think by implementing simple techniques. Below, coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer their guidance on how to get started. 

Clockwise from top left: Julie Kantor, David Taylor-Klaus, Michelle Tillis Lederman, Steven Cohen, Wendy Pitts Reeves, Bill Gardner, Christine Meyer, Woody Woodward, Erin Kennedy, Brett Baughman, Emily Kapit, Jen Kelchner, Dave Ursillo. All photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Have Daily Negative Thought Time

A paradoxical strategy to gain control over negative thinking is to commit to 10 minutes a day ruminating and reviewing them over and over again. Negative Thought Time (NTT) must be 10 minutes and must be every day. When you have a negative thought during the day, jot it down, and tell yourself that you’ll review them during NTT. Over time, you will gain control and negative thinking will stop.   – Julie Kantor, PhD, JP Kantor Consulting

2. Replace the Negative Thoughts

We don't overcome negative thought patterns, we replace them. For most of us, those negative thought patterns are well-worn neural pathways. Four simple steps:

1. Notice when you have started the pattern.

2. Acknowledge that its a pattern you want to change.

3. Articulate what you want to be different.

4. Choose a different behavior — one that serves your goals.

    – David Taylor-Klaus, DTK Coaching

3. Be Your Own Best Friend

We are mean to ourselves. Nearly 90% of self-talk is negative. Three steps:

1. Release it. Let it out to help process, not to dwell. Three minutes, then the pity party is over.

2. Track it. Identify when you have negative thoughts. Awareness will enable reframing.

3. Reframe it. Once you know why you are being mean, consider what your best friend would say to you. Then tell yourself what you need to hear.

  – Michelle Tillis Lederman, Executive Essentials

4. Write Instead Of Think

Write down why the negative thought is present. Writing versus thinking helps purge the thought out, and when you can see the words on paper or a screen it is easier to make sense of it and move forward.   – Steven Cohen, Meyvn Global

5. Make A Conscious Effort To Find Things To Love, Like And Appreciate

Instead of fighting negative thoughts, consciously reach for better feeling thoughts. One powerful way to do that is to speak (out loud if you can) to what you love, like and appreciate. Heading into a tough talk? "I love the way the coffee tastes today. " "I like the way this chair feels at my back." "I appreciate the chance to process ideas with my team." Reach for the relief, and you'll find it.   – Wendy Pitts Reeves, C2C Consulting, PLLC

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6. Ask Yourself Some Tough Questions

Reflect on your answers to some tough questions. 1. What do I get from having negative thought patterns?  What's the reward for me? 2. What do I lose by engaging in negative thoughts? What are the costs? 3. What benefits would I receive from engaging in positive thoughts? What costs are associated with thinking more positively? 4. What in my past made me think negatively? 5. What will I do now?   – Bill Gardner, Noetic Outcomes Consulting, LLC

7. Establish New Habits

Rather than thinking of it in terms of "overcoming" negative thought patterns, think of it in terms of establishing new habits. You do that by directing your attention to subjects where there's nothing to "overcome": subjects that you already feel good about, and therefore think positively about. That could be your pet, your painted toe nails, being outside, the beach... Start with something easy.   – Christine Meyer, Christine Meyer Coaching

8. Stop Watching The Morning News

Research has shown just three minutes of negative news in the morning will significantly increase your chances of a negative experience over the course of the day. Research has also shown that positive mindset increases productivity and satisfaction while reducing errors rates. Mindset is a choice, but not always an easy one. Look to eliminate negative influences and stop watching morning news!   – Dr. Woody Woodward, HCI

9. Use Affirmations

When you wake up, open your eyes and feel gratitude for the new day. Write down daily affirmations: "I love the people I work with," "I make positive contributions every day," or "I am open to inspired thoughts. " If a negative thought creeps in, think of a success you've had and the feeling that went with it. Positive thinking is a daily task, but worth it.   – Erin Kennedy, Professional Resume Services, Inc.

10. Develop Your Success Routine

Every morning for fifteen years, I've done a process I created called "Quantum Programming." It involves taking time each morning as you wake to meditate and focus on the person you want to be and the quality of life you want to live. You also set a few important goals to keep your momentum building toward your dreams. When you know what you want and are driving at it daily, negativity will fade.   – Brett Baughman, The Brett Baughman Companies, Inc.

11. Channel Those Thoughts Into Something Constructive

Negative thought patterns can easily take over, but a fantastic (and constructive) trick is to identify what the negative thought pattern is and a project you're excited about. Then, consciously commit to this: Every time you find yourself focusing on the negative, refocus your thoughts for five minutes on your exciting project. I did this recently and a new initiative is now ahead of schedule!   – Emily Kapit, MS, MRW, ACRW, CPRW, ReFresh Your Step, LLC

12. Focus On Gratitude

Gratitude is underrated by most but is essential to a happy life. Life doesn't get easier, but we become stronger as we reframe difficulties by recognizing all of the little good things going on around us. Keep a Good List and refer to it daily. Also, focus on what you really want and be very specific. A focused, positive mind will attract what it is seeking over time.   – Jen Kelchner,

13. Try Movement And Meditation

As a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and a writing coach and author, I know that you can't escape negative thoughts without physically disrupting them. To get out of your head, get into your body. A few minutes of deliberate breath work (seated 10-15 minute meditation) or body movement (like a yoga class)can disrupt those thinking patterns. To get out of your head, move more. Feel more.   – Dave Ursillo, The Literati Writers

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

4 Ways to Stop Negative Thinking

“Humans, and our brains, have evolved such that we are capable of language, something no other mammals have,” explains McLean’s Lisa W. Coyne, PhD.

“Our ability to speak, think abstractly, and reason gives us the ability to plan, problem solve, collaborate in groups, and learn indirectly, in the absence of our direct experience. For example, you might have learned not to touch a hot stove because your parents told you ‘Don’t touch, it’s hot!’”

Moreover, Coyne states, “Everyone has a mind that ‘talks’ to them. We think of this as our verbal mind or our ‘advisor.’ It’s the part of you that is linked to your languaging brain, whose function is to serve as your threat detector.”

Having a threat detector or “critical voice” is a good thing. “It points out all the stuff that could be dangerous to us, including stuff that might happen in the future and all of our missteps from the past,” says Coyne.

“Its function is to help us to avoid making the same mistakes so that we are physically and existentially safe,” she adds.

Keep Reading To Learn

  • The benefits and harms of listening to our critical voice
  • Treatments and strategies for managing negative thoughts

How We Experience Our Critical Voice

People “do not hear voices, per se,” Coyne explains. “But we do notice critical thoughts popping up as we go through our days.”

She shares that “we have evolved to experience our thoughts as literal truths. It’s what allows us to learn indirectly by listening to what other people say, rather than only directly through our own experience.”

Our inner voice, Coyne states, “is always on, and it’s overinclusive in its estimation of what is threatening.” These are “features, not bugs” of our critical voice, she says.

“It wouldn’t be a great threat detector if you could turn it off at will, and it wouldn’t be a great threat detector if it somehow underestimated threats, right?”

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Getting Stuck

Our nonstop, always cautious critical voice, Coyne says, is “an incredible ability, a boon to our survival, but also comes with a dark side.”

“People run into trouble when they get stuck listening to their mind solely, rather than being out in the world and noticing that sometimes the mind isn’t correct about what it thinks,” Coyne states.

The critical voice, she says, can cause people to “focus solely on avoiding unwanted thoughts and to avoid situations that trigger those thoughts.” This is defined as “experiential avoidance.”

“If it’s our default for managing unwanted thoughts, it can trap us, such that we lose our focus on other, more important things in our lives,” says Coyne.

“The problem? Not only does this focus on getting stuff out of our heads capture our attention, but it also often backfires—sometimes the more you try not to think about something, the more it sticks around.”

Coyne offers a real-world example of how this works: “My mind may say something like ‘Better not speak up in that meeting, people will think you are stupid, and that would be embarrassing.’ I might experience a physical reaction (my heart rate might increase). Or an emotional reaction (I’ll feel nervous),” she shares.

“And, of course, I’d have a cognitive reaction (should I not speak up? What’s the right thing to say so I don’t look stupid?). This is important because we also treat unpleasant or unwanted thoughts—even though they are just thoughts—as actual truths that we must avoid, or fix, or suppress, or change.”

Self-Acceptance and Mental Health

Dr. Lisa Coyne discusses the importance of self-acceptance for better mental health and answers audience questions on how we can be more accepting of ourselves, each other, and our daily lives.

Watch the Video

Detaching From That Critical Voice

“Having a critical, threat-detecting mind isn’t the problem,” Coyne asserts. “Rather, it’s our response to that critical mind that can trap us.”

To avoid these, Coyne reports that some people engage with mental health professionals by using cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). “This approach will teach you skills for how to manage these types of thoughts by helping you undermine their faulty logic or overestimation of threat.”

Approaches like acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) or acceptance-based behavior therapy can also be helpful. These methods, Coyne says, “help you change your relationship to your thoughts, such that you become more skilled at noticing them mindfully and making a space for them without reacting so that you are no longer hooked by them.”

In essence, you might notice your critical mind chattering away at you, but it will no longer take up central importance it once did and leave you free to choose what direction to take in your life.

Simple Steps to Stop Negative Thoughts

While some may need to seek help from professionals, Coyne said there are “simple steps that folks might practice, helping them detach from that critical voice and build more joy and vitality and connection in their lives.”

1. Pause a Moment

If you are feeling stressed, anxious, or stuck in negative thinking patterns, PAUSE. Focus your awareness on the world around you with your five senses.

2. Notice the Difference

NOTICE the difference between being stuck in your thoughts vs. experiencing the present moment through your five senses. Notice also what you have been up to in your mind.

Were you arguing with yourself? Struggling with disproving negative or critical self-evaluations? Trying to push unpleasant thoughts or images out of your head?

Ask yourself whether this mental struggle is serving you well.

3. Label Your Thoughts

If it isn’t, see if you can step back and LABEL your thoughts as they are, rather than literal truths. For example, you might practice slowing down your thoughts and adding to them the stem “I am having the thought that ….”

Continue this practice of labeling, without attempting to soften, change, or avoid whatever thoughts you happen to be having. See if you can notice what it is like to have some distance between you—the thinker—and your thoughts.

4. Choose Your Intention

Once you have PAUSED from your mental struggle, NOTICED what’s happening and how it’s been working, and LABELED your thoughts for what they are—simple, mental weather that will come and go—you are better able to CHOOSE your intention, and the next right step for you.

Are you going to continue to struggle with your thoughts? Or you can choose to take a small step toward something that matters to you in your life.


  • Lisa Coyne

How to get rid of negative thoughts: 4 techniques

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Negative thoughts in the head attract negative events in life. And the stronger these negative thoughts, the more destructive the events. The point here is not even in the force of attraction and not in the materialization of thoughts - the point is only that as you think, so you act. In other words, thinking about your worthlessness, you subconsciously will do everything to find proof of this thought in real life.

The only difficulty is that negative thoughts give us an influx of strong (albeit negative) emotions, experiencing which we get a specific satisfaction. Moreover, the poorer in events and emotions our life is, the more dramas happen in our head.

The human need for strong emotions on the example of unrequited love is famously described here .

To remove negative thoughts and not “pull” extremely painful events into your life, I recommend that you use these four effective psychological techniques for getting rid of negativity!

Technique No. 1 — “Cutting off”

As soon as you feel that a negative thought has “inflamed” in your mind, take it and just… cut it off. Literally. Imagine that you pick up scissors or a knife and cut it off from the flow of thoughts, like a paper picture.
You don't need to analyze it, you don't need to argue with it, you don't need to defend yourself against it - just mentally cut it off from yourself and put something else - beautiful and pleasant - in its place.
The key principle here is that you must do it immediately, the very moment you feel the thought start in your head.

Technique #2 — “Label”

This technique is as follows: instead of getting rid of or cutting off this thought, we simply move away from it ... and observe it from the outside. It’s like they glued it to the refrigerator, and we look at it, evaluate how the audience evaluates the performance. At the same time, you need to be strictly in the 3rd position (the position of the observer), not allowing yourself to be controlled in the process. Imagine that this negative thought has appeared in the mind of someone else, and you are simply analyzing it. Keep an eye on your grades:

  • what do I think about this?
  • what do you feel?
  • what would I advise a person with such an idea?

But you name the thought itself as if in quotation marks, thereby determining its place. And just watch her, giving her an assessment.

Technique #3 - "Exaggeration"

Another great way to deal with negative thoughts is to inflate them to the point of absurdity. The goal is to take the importance out of the thought, to make it funny, to play with it. Just like in Harry Potter, when the students had to make fun of their fears.
Imagine this. You are a salesperson who cannot go to a potential client due to fear of rejection. In this case, you should say to yourself: “OK, I can’t sell anything. Because I'm afraid. What exactly? Well, what if I come to this person, he will open the door and ... hit me? And then a crowd of people with water will come running and start watering me, while mocking me. And then I will be hurt, ashamed, I will be all wet and beaten ... Then they will set the shepherd dogs on me ... And now I am all wet, all bitten and beaten back to the office. And you know what's there? There, all the employees hung up posters with the words “Idiot, why did you come back?”, look askance at you and giggle contemptuously.

Pure absurdity, you will agree. But it is precisely absurdity that can deprive a negative thought of its power.

Technique #4 - "Confrontation"

Another way to clear your head of a negative thought is to contradict it. But to contradict not with words, but with images, pictures. As soon as the thought “I will not be able to make a sale” enters your head, you should put in its place a completely contradicting thought and its accompanying visuals. Imagine how easy it is to make a sale.

If the thought “I will never make the money I dream of” comes to you, you should immediately respond with the exact opposite and say to yourself “I will definitely achieve huge financial success. ” As soon as the thought came, “I am not good for anything, I am not capable of anything,” you say to yourself “I am capable of everything, I am a very unusual, extraordinary person, I have a lot of talents,” and so on.
This is a very effective technique, because it is absolutely impossible to think about the negative and the positive at the same time, the mind is able to think about one thing at the same time. Therefore, if you throw a negative thought out of it and put a positive one in, you deprive the negative thought of its power.

And remember: negative thoughts have power over you only if you react to them .

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How to get rid of negative thoughts forever?

Making a decision is not easy, even if we are sure we are right. All the same, a worm of doubt gnaws: what if everything doesn’t go the way we plan?

Regrets about decisions made in the past also interfere with life: they make us think again and again about the situation in which we acted this way and not otherwise.

The brain offers many options in which things do not turn out well. As a result, you are engaged in mentally getting out of possible troubles, and not making a choice based on what is really important to you.

You are trying to protect yourself. Or you lose your patience and rush into the abyss. Or you lose your will and try to postpone the moment of making a decision.

But there is another way: awareness. Eric Barker, author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree, explains how to use mindfulness when making decisions.

In short, mindfulness is a clear understanding of your thoughts and feelings, even though they do not completely capture you. Psychologists analyzed this condition and created the so-called Acceptance and Responsibility Therapy (TPO).

Let's take a look at how this technique can help you deal with negative thoughts so you can make smart decisions based on what's really important to you.

How to permanently get rid of negative thoughts

Correct answer: no way.

Indeed, it is impossible to control your brain - this idea is not even funny. Try to destroy the memories of how you embarrassed yourself in front of the person you liked in high school. Happened? Hardly. And as a result, from trying to suppress the memory, it only gets worse: unpleasant thoughts only multiply and return again and again.

Trying to cut off the heads of the hydra in your head does not work. But the good news is that negative thinking when making decisions is not really a problem.

Thoughts are born in the brain. And some of it will always be negative, because the gray matter lives by the motto "It's better to be safe than sorry."

Thousands and thousands of years ago, caveman #1 thought the snake was a stick, got bitten, died, and did not procreate. Caveman No. 2, who walked around seeing a snake in every stick, gave birth to many children, and now our brain sees problems even where there are none. Thanks evolution.

But this should not lead to bad decisions and stupid behavior. Your thoughts do not always automatically guide your actions. You decide. After all, sometimes you get worried, but still make the right decision, don't you?

What is the problem? In TPO, this is called a merger.

You are not your thoughts

So thoughts are born in the brain. They buzz there all the time. Some are frankly ridiculous, and you immediately discard them. But sometimes you take that talker in your head too seriously. So serious that you start to think that the grumbling voice in your head is you. And then believe everything he says, including "I'm an idiot", "it will never work", "I will not cope with this business and will fail in disgrace in front of all honest people."

This is a merger. This is what happens when an idea pops into your head and you take it for a fact when it's just a crazy guess.

Psychologists say that when this happens, we are inseparable from our thoughts: we are absorbed by them, connected by them - we are so merged with them that, in fact, we do not even understand exactly what we are thinking.

Cognitive fusion means that our thoughts dominate our actions. Therefore, TPO psychologists talk to clients about how they are "pushed by their thoughts" or that they "let their thoughts dictate what they do."

Things can't go well if gray matter screams "Life is shit!" and you believe it.

There are many ways to explain what is really going on. But you identify with the voice in your head and say, "Yes, I hear that voice, so it's true. This voice has never lied to me in my life, that's how it is."

When you merge with your bad memories, regrets appear. When you connect with scary visions of the future, you get nervous. As a result, it often affects your decisions, and very rarely for the better. So how do you stop this merger? Disperse.

How to separate from your thoughts?

You have often done this without realizing it. After all, have you ever caught yourself in sad thoughts and said: “How did I think of this?”

The psychologists who invented TPO claim that if there is such a thing as merging with your thoughts, then you can stop it by distancing yourself from them.

When you are absorbed in your thoughts, it seems to you that a voice in your head is telling the truth and demanding that you respond immediately. And you agree, even if you feel miserable.

But when you try to neutralize it, it turns out that the voice is just expressing an idea. Maybe she's smart, maybe she's not. You are not obligated to obey, you can just take note of it.

When you are conscious, that is, when you choose to stop this merging, disturbing thoughts cease to give a signal of danger to which you must immediately respond. Now it's just a message notification and can be ignored.

How to do it?

Ask yourself: What is my brain telling me right now?

Please note that we are already resorting to trickery. Saying "my brain", we already automatically separate ourselves from it. It's not you saying "I'm a loser" - it's the brain. This is how you create distance. Now it can be used to critically evaluate this thought.

Yes, it may come back in the evaluation process as “Well, that's right. I am a loser. I failed this time and will fail the next." Then you can again doubt it and still be convinced. But is it true? It doesn't really matter.

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