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.
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:
- Notice when you have started the pattern.
- Acknowledge that it’s a pattern you want to change.
- Articulate what you want to be different.
- Choose a different behavior — one that serves your goals.
3. Be Your Own Best Friend
We are mean to ourselves. Nearly 90% of self-talk is negative. Three steps:
- Release it. Let it out to help process, not to dwell. Three minutes, then the pity party is over.
- Track it. Identify when you have negative thoughts. Awareness will enable reframing.
- 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.
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
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, TeenTrep.co
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
Negativity is something that can have a strong impact on both yourself and the people around you. Don’t let negative thoughts and energy do more harm than good in your own life. Through positive connections, you can become a more successful and fulfilled person.