5 Ways to Break Free From Negative Thinking

Negative thinking.

It's essential to have a healthy relationship with your emotions (Image: Marek Uliasz via Dreamstime)

How often do you catch yourself thinking of pessimistic thoughts or negative situations? Everyone is plagued by negative thinking at one time or another. Do you spend a lot of time replaying unfavorable outcomes or focusing on what’s not going right in your life?

Negative thinking can become a mentality and a frame of mind for many people

Having negative thoughts is a natural occurrence, and it happens to the best of us — after all, we’re only human. However, when negative thinking becomes pervasive and repetitive, it might end up trapping you in an endless cycle of brooding. This emotional addiction to negative thoughts can destroy your mental health and overall well-being. 

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

Why do you get addicted to negative thinking?

If negative thoughts bring you pain and sadness, why do you subject yourself to suffering by constantly filling your mind with such thoughts? 

According to a psychotherapist, public speaker, and Psychology Today contributing writer Nancy Colier, when your mind clings to negative experiences or thoughts, it can be because you’re trying to understand these more clearly and figure them out. Ultimately, it’s a way of trying to make yourself feel better. 

Additionally, often revisiting or pondering about the things that hurt you also connects you to a more profound sense of self, where your mind feels alive. The ruminating, reestablishing, and reevaluating cycle helps you think that your narrative matters and validates your sense of identity. 

When negative thinking intrudes on your happy or peaceful moments, consciously redirect your attention to what matters in front of you.
When negative thinking intrudes on your happy or peaceful moments, consciously redirect your attention to what matters in front of you. (Image: Stokkete via Dreamstime)

Escaping the damaging thinking addiction

Nonetheless, it’s essential to have a healthy relationship with your emotions. Fixating negative feelings does more damage than good and causes continuous suffering. 

If you’re in the habit of dwelling on painful and unpleasant experiences or thoughts, it’s time to break that cycle consciously. Here’s what you can do:

1. Cultivate self-awareness 

The first step to breaking the cycle of negative thinking is to be mindful of when it’s happening. Then, notice the moments when you start diving into the pain and be ready to pull yourself out of that thought. 

When negative thinking intrudes on your happy or peaceful moments, consciously redirect your attention to what matters in front of you.

2. Recognize when you’re caught

Even with self-awareness, there will be times when it feels impossible to keep your mind from clinging to the pain. When this happens, acknowledge that negative thinking is taking place and the feeling of being stuck in it. 

Remember that breaking free from this emotional addiction is a process; part of it is being kind to yourself when moments like this come about.

3. Ask yourself why you’re thinking about it

What is your mind trying to do? Reflect without judgment on what your mind is trying to accomplish when it jumps into the rabbit hole of negative thoughts. Is it a form of safeguarding, so it doesn’t happen again? Does it provide comfort or anchor you? 

There are many reasons why this happens, and only you can find out. Making your inquiry can help establish that negative thinking is not the means to reach what your mind wants to do, thus helping break the cycle.

Don't let negative thinking hold power over you.
Don’t let negative thinking hold power over you. (Image: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz via Dreamstime)

4. Imagine life without pain

On the note of self-assessment, you can also open your mind to a life without constantly revisiting painful experiences. What would your days look like without negative thinking?

Untie your present from the weight of the painful past and try making a positive change. 

Form new, motivating habits and actively choose to be more mindful of the now instead of the unpleasant past and fear of the future. Don’t let negative thinking hold power over you. 

5. Seek professional help

Remember that you don’t have to be stuck in an endless cycle of brooding forever. While basic countering techniques such as the above can help you independently overcome negative thinking progressively, you can also seek the help of a mental health professional. 

Struggling with repetitive negative thoughts can be exhausting and overwhelming. It’s okay to need help. Receiving support from a licensed counselor can aid you in creating a healthier inner dialogue and more positive thinking. 

Follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest

Recommended Stories

A Japanese moai

Unlocking Wisdom: Lessons From the Japanese Moai Tradition

In Japan, tight-knit social groups, moais, have helped people gain insight and support. As an ...

Photo of a group of business people each holding a brightly colored gear and combining them to illustrate a teamwork concept.

Technology Companies and Autism: A New Era of Inclusion

When you think of autism, what comes to mind? Quietness, sensitivity, or difficulty in communication? ...


18 Resourceful Ways That Help Reduce Mental Stress

Many people have experienced stress at some point in their life. People generally sense that ...

Standing at a desk while working.

Is Standing at Your Desk Actually Better Than Sitting?

In modern life, many of us spend the majority of our waking hours sitting. A ...

The Greek philosopher Plato.

Plato’s Influence on Architecture: How Do Architects Think?

Architecture is a discipline where art meets mathematics (engineering). Architects essentially blend these two sides, ...

A dolphin jumping in the ocean.

Dolphins and Sea Lions: The U.S. Navy’s Unexpected Defenders

The performances of dolphins and sea lions at marine parks often leave spectators amazed and ...

An angry woman.

Why You Shouldn’t Get Angry: The 4 Major Benefits

Have you ever heard the saying: “Smart people control their anger, while foolish ones let ...

A bronze statue of Plato.

The Life and Works of the Philosopher Plato, 427-347 B.C.

Plato was a Greek philosopher from Athens, the most famous student of Socrates, and the ...

An inbox full of unanswered emails.

Why Do I Get So Much Spam and Unwanted Emails in My Inbox?

Spam might not have brought an end to the internet or email, as some dire ...

Send this to a friend