Negative thinking can be a dangerous habit, that adversely affects your productivity, self confidence, and overall wellbeing.
Fighting negative thoughts (and trying to push them away) can make it worse by reinforcing that pattern of thinking.
If you struggle with thinking about negative thoughts over and over, this is called rumination and can even be known to lead to depression.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tried and tested techniques that you can do to stop negative thoughts in its tracks.
In this post, you’ll learn how to effectively clear your mind of negative thoughts and feel more positively.
- Related: Processing Negative Emotions (podcast)
How To Clear Your Mind Of Negative Thoughts
In the five steps below, I’m sharing how you can simply clear your mind of negative thoughts.
Step 1: Write down your negative thoughts.
The first step is to write down your negative thoughts.
Writing down exactly what you’re thinking will bring you into awareness. The only way to change is to know where you’re starting from, which means looking at these sometimes ugly thoughts.
Remember that thoughts aren’t moral. They’re neither good nor bad. So know that even if you find some crazy or “bad” thoughts—there’s nothing wrong with you. You simply have a human brain.
Getting your thoughts out of your head is the best first step to transitioning into thinking differently. Just like a GPS with an end destination—you need to know where you’re starting from.
Step 2: Notice the feelings your negative thoughts create.
Negative thoughts create negative feelings.
If you think, “I really don’t like that this is happening in the world” then you’ll feel a negative emotion.
Your brain moves so fast that you’ll tend to move on to the next step. This is where I want to encourage you to pause.
Then check in with your body. Your body language is a queue into how you’re feeling.
Then name that feeling and notice the connection—when you think XYZ thought you feel ABC feeling.
This awareness that your thoughts create your feelings helps you see how much you actually have control over (i.e.: your thoughts and feelings).
- How To Stop Self Sabotaging Thoughts (blog post)
- Thought Plateaus And Massive Thinking (podcast)
- How To Become A More Mindful Mom (free class)
Step 3: Allow your negative thoughts to be there.
The temptation is to want to resist and push away negative thoughts but this just makes them worse. They’ll continue to pop up so long as you resist them.
Instead, allow them to be there.
Train your mind to simply notice the thought and see it as a thought.
You are not your thoughts. You are the watcher or observer of your thoughts.
Your thoughts come from your brain and often are completely random. Seeing them as neutral, without morality, is a great way to allow your thoughts to be there without judgment.
Step 4: Question your negative thoughts.
From a place of non-judgment, you can begin to question your negative thoughts.
This is what I call “Inquiry.”
Inquiry is a process of questioning your thoughts (especially your beliefs) so you can “loosen” them and eventually stop thinking and believing them.
For example, if you think “this world is such a horrible place,” inquiry might sound like asking these types of questions…
- How does it feel to think that thought?
- How do I show up when I think that thought?
- Is that thought true?
- Is there any evidence of the opposite?
- How am I wrong?
- In order to feel better, what would I need to think?
Inquiry is about poking holes in the thought you’re thinking so that you loosen the grip it (the thought) has on you.
This is solely for your benefit.
It’s something that takes lots of practice, which is what we do inside Grow You, as a community of moms re-examining our thoughts on a regular basis.
Step 5: Create new better feeling thoughts
The final step (after you’ve done all the steps above) is to create better feeling thoughts.
From Steps 1 and 2 you learned how to write down your thoughts and then write down the feelings that those thoughts create.
This step is about creating thoughts that feel better when you think them.
For example, if you think “I’m not a good enough mom” and then you feel shame, after realizing this isn’t the truth but rather your interpretation of it, you can think of alternative truths that you believe. It may not be “I’m an amazing mom” but it might be what I call the Next Believable Thought. In this example, you might be able to believe “sometimes I’m an amazing mom and other times I’m a lousy mom—I’m both.” This is going to feel a lot better than your initial thought.
- How To Increase Self Awareness (blog post)
- Next Believable Thought (podcast)
- 75 Journal Prompts For Moms (free download)
A Final Note!
Negative thoughts are harmless if you know how to coach yourself.
You can turn your intrusive, bad thoughts, into better feeling thoughts with a little bit of self awareness combined with self love combined with self coaching.