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Community Advocacy Organization

How to Avoid Negative Thinking

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We have thousands of thoughts each day. Some are positive and some are negative. Inevitably there will have some negative thoughts in that bunch, but they all don’t have to be negative. In fact, negative thinking has been shown to be linked to increased risk of depression, anxiety, and overall can wear down your happiness.

So, how can we think fewer negative thoughts? Is the secret to always be surrounded by things or people that make us happy? Or is the secret to control every single thought that enters our mind? Most mental health care professionals and researchers would disagree. For one, we cannot always control what we are surrounded or who we are surrounded by. We can’t always control of our circumstances either. For example, when a flight is delayed causing us to have to wait a few hours longer to get to our destination. There are many things we are not in control of. However, there is one powerful thing we can control: our thoughts. In this article, we’ll be providing tangible ways to experience fewer negative thoughts and how we can enjoy the better feelings and moods that will inevitably follow.

The first suggestion is to avoid counteracting every negative with a positive thought. This would get exhausting very quickly, and actually covers over the negative thought instead of acknowledging it. A powerful way to actually experience fewer negative thoughts is to allow the negative thought. Acknowledging it can actually allow your mind to let it go instead of trying to fight it or change it. A phrase you could use when a negative thought comes your way is “oh that’s interesting….” or “ok”. By responding in a neutral and observational manner, you give that negative thought less power and can then let it go.

The second suggestion is to become aware of all-or-nothing thinking. All-or-nothing thinking says that something or someone is either all this way or all that way. For example, you forget to make dinner reservations for you and your friend. All-or-nothing thinking may sound something like “I always forget to make the plans when it’s my turn” or “My friend is never going to want to do anything with me again”. All-or-nothing thinking can lead to more negative thoughts because we believe that we aren’t capable of anything else or that there isn’t a chance for anything to be different.

The third suggestion is to literally re-focus on something else in the present. For example, instead of trying to force positive thinking, re-focus on something positive. Focusing on something positive is different from forcing positive thoughts because focusing on something positive gives your mind space and fodder for positive thoughts to naturally spring up. For example, you could go to a park or see an uplifting movie. By re-focusing your attention on uplifting things, positive and more encouraging thoughts will naturally follow. Everyone has negative thoughts, and it is certainly understandable how they arise, but negative thoughts don’t have to dominate your thinking. You have incredible power to choose a more positive mindset, and can enjoy a brighter, more positive outlook.

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