How To Outsmart Your Negative Thoughts

How To Outsmart Your Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts are relentless. They creep in, hijacking your mood and sabotaging your sense of self. It’s a battle fought in the quiet corners of your mind – but you don’t have to lose. Here’s how to outsmart those destructive inner voices and reclaim control.

1. Realize that your brain is a bit of a drama queen.

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Our brains evolved to keep us safe, so they’re hyper-focused on potential threats, Medical News Today explains. That thought spiral of worst-case scenarios? It’s your brain trying to protect you, even if it’s a bit misguided. Sometimes, you gotta remind your brain who’s boss and it needs to chill out with the doomsday predictions.

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2. Name that negativity beast.

Give your inner critic a silly name like “Debbie Downer” or “Catastrophic Carl.” It makes it easier to laugh it off and not take those negative thoughts so seriously. The next time that inner voice starts nagging, just be like, “Oh, there goes Debbie again, being dramatic as usual.”

3. Fact-check those sneaky thoughts.

When your brain predicts disaster, ask for the evidence. Are you really going to get fired for being five minutes late, or is that your anxiety exaggerating? Challenge those negative thoughts like you’re a lawyer cross-examining a witness – poke holes in their arguments!

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4. Focus on what you can control.

Worrying about things outside your power is a waste of energy. If there’s something you can do to change the situation, take action. If not, let it go. It’s like that wise old saying, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” You can’t control everything, so focus on what you actually can.

5. Change the channel in your brain.

Got a negative thought stuck on repeat? Distract yourself! Blast upbeat music, watch a funny video, or dive into a good book to switch the internal soundtrack. Don’t give those negative thoughts the space to take up residence in your head – evict them with something that makes you smile!

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6. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a friend.

Would you tell your bestie they’re worthless if they made a mistake? Nope! So cut yourself some slack and offer words of encouragement instead. Be your own cheerleader, not your own worst critic. Imagine what you’d say to a friend struggling with negativity and give yourself that same kindness.

7. Practice mindfulness and focus on the present.

Negative thoughts often dwell on the past or fret about the future. Grounding yourself in the present moment through meditation or simply focusing on your senses can provide some much-needed relief. Instead of getting lost in what-ifs, focus on the feel of your feet on the ground, the sound of birds chirping, or the taste of your coffee. It brings you back to reality and away from the negativity spiral.

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8. Sweat it out!

Exercise is a natural mood booster, research has shown time and time again. A brisk walk, a dance party in your living room, or a workout class can shift bad vibes into feel-good endorphins. Sometimes, you just need to physically shake out the negativity. Think of it as sweating out those toxic thoughts!

9. Surround yourself with positive people.

Energy is contagious! Choose to spend time with those who lift you up, not those who bring you down. Their optimism will rub off on you. Think of the people in your life who make you laugh and believe in yourself – those are the ones you want to keep close.

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10. Fake it till you make it.

Even if you don’t feel it, act confident. Stand tall, smile, and speak up. Your brain might start to believe the act, leading to genuinely positive feelings. Think of it as tricking your brain into feeling better. Sometimes, just going through the motions of confidence can plant the seeds for that genuine self-assurance to blossom.

11. Celebrate even the smallest wins.

Made it out of bed on time? Boom, success! Focusing on small wins trains your brain to look for the positive instead of dwelling on what went wrong. Don’t underestimate the power of patting yourself on the back for those seemingly minor accomplishments – they add up to a whole lot of awesome over time.

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12. Practice gratitude regularly.

Taking a few minutes to jot down things you’re grateful for shifts your focus from lack to abundance. A grateful heart has less room for negativity. It might feel cheesy at first, but try it! Make it a daily ritual and let that feeling of gratitude wash over you and chase away those pesky negative thoughts.

13. Learn to laugh at yourself.

We all do silly things sometimes. Don’t let mistakes drag you down. Laugh it off, learn the lesson if there’s one to be learned, and move on. Life’s too short to take yourself too seriously. Embrace the absurdity of being human – it’s way more fun that way!

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14. Get enough sleep.

When you’re exhausted, you’re more irritable and prone to negativity. Aim for those solid 7-8 hours to keep your mood balanced. Think of sleep as a magical potion for your brain – it helps regulate your emotions and puts you in a better headspace for dealing with negativity.

15. Eat nourishing foods (and skip the junk).

Your mood is closely connected to your gut health. Fuel your body with whole foods as much as possible, and see if it makes a difference in your mental chatter. It’s not about being perfect, just aim for more fruits, veggies, and all that good stuff. Your brain will thank you for the tasty and nutritious fuel.

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Sinitta Weston grew up in Edinburgh but moved to Sydney, Australia to for college and never came back. She works as a chemical engineer during the day and at night, she writes articles about love and relationships. She's her friends' go-to for dating advice (though she struggles to take the same advice herself). Her INFJ personality makes her extra sensitive to others' feelings and this allows her to help people through tough times with ease. Hopefully, her articles can do that for you.