Turn Negative Thoughts Into Something Positive

A young woman crying on a sofa.

Many people struggle with negative thinking. (Image: Antonio Guillem via Dreamstime)

Many people struggle with negative thoughts. It can be challenging to determine why you think negatively, but catching these thoughts and turning them into positive actions is essential.

Negativity to neutrality

The first step is to identify the negative thoughts. Once you become aware of them, you can change them into neutral or positive statements. For example, if you’re thinking: “I’m so lazy,” turn that statement into something like: “I need a break” or “I’m taking some time for myself.”

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Re-frame your thoughts

After changing your thoughts from negative to neutral/positive ones, it’s essential to re-frame those thoughts into actions. This means taking the idea and turning it into an actionable plan. So instead of just thinking: “I should work out more,” come up with a plan on when and how you’ll exercise each week. Putting these plans in writing will help hold you accountable and make it more likely that you’ll follow through with your goals!

Follow a healthy lifestyle

Implementing a healthy lifestyle can help reduce stress and negative thoughts. Eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are all vital components of living well. In addition, taking care of your body makes it easier to have a positive outlook on life.

Talk to someone who can help

Talking to a therapist or counselor can be very beneficial if you struggle with negative thoughts. They can help you understand the root causes of your negativity and guide you in overcoming those challenges.

Implementing a healthy lifestyle can help reduce stress and negative thoughts.
Implementing a healthy lifestyle can help reduce stress and negative thoughts. (Image: Don DeBold via Flickr)

Suppress the negative inner voice

We all have an inner voice that speaks to us throughout the day. Sometimes this voice can be harmful, telling you you’re not good enough or that you’ll never succeed. Therefore, it’s essential to learn how to silence these toxic messages. One way to do this is by practicing self-compassion. Treating yourself with kindness and understanding can help quiet the harmful noise in your head.

Take a deep breath

Take a few deep breaths in moments of negativity and try to relax your body. This can help reduce stress and calm your mind.

Surround yourself with positive people

One of the best ways to reduce negative thoughts is to surround yourself with positive people. When surrounded by individuals who uplift you and make you feel good about yourself, it’s easier to think more positively. Additionally, try to limit your exposure to negativity in the media (e.g., news stories and social media posts).

Seek help if you need it

If you find negative thoughts impacting your daily life or causing distress, please seek professional help. There are many resources available to assist you on your journey toward positivity!

Find areas that need change

There are many things you do that can lead to negative thoughts. It might be the environment you spend time in, TV shows or movies you watch, books you read, music lyrics you listen to, websites you visit, and people you associate with regularly. Once you identify which areas need a change, take thoughtful and deliberate action to make those changes!

Practice self-compassion

It is straightforward to be hostile toward yourself. So much so that you might not even realize how often it occurs. Yet, numerous studies have found a strong connection between self-compassion and overall mental health benefits, including decreased anxiety and depression.

Aged brothers laughing while sitting on a sofa together.
One of the best ways to reduce negative thoughts is to surround yourself with positive people. (Image: Motortion via Dreamstime)

Write it out

Get a journal or piece of paper and write out all the things that are stressing you out, or making you anxious or depressed. Then, after getting everything off your chest, look at each item objectively, and shred or burn the paper! This visualization can help relieve some of the burdens these thoughts have on your mind, while also helping motivate you to take actionable steps to improve the situation.

Talk nicely to yourself

In the same way that you would talk kindly to others to support them, do the same unto yourself! When having difficult conversations with people close to you, it’s common practice to tell them: “Everything will be alright,” or “I’m here for you.” Why not say similar statements when working through tough times by yourself? It begins with shifting your language from mean/harsh words directed at yourself, such as “idiot” or “loser” — instead, using phrases like “I made a mistake, everyone does,” or “I can do this”!

Visualize a positive outcome

Envision the situation turned around for better results than what currently exists. Of course, this won’t happen overnight, but imagining it occurring can help increase motivation to take steps to work toward that idea! For example, let’s say you failed an important test; instead of thinking about the score received — focus on how you will do better next time by studying more, going to a tutor, and practicing extra hard.

End negative thoughts for good

If negative thoughts have become a regular pattern, it’s best to try breaking out new good habits for at least three weeks until they become second nature, like riding a bike! Some practical suggestions include: writing five things you are grateful for each day, complimenting people often, smiling at everyone you walk past, and meditating for 10 minutes every morning and evening right before bed.

Making minor tweaks to your routine can significantly impact productivity and mood — eventually reducing negative thoughts overall.

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