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Negative Thinking: 5 Simplest Ways to Avoid it

illustration of a lonely woman lost in her thoughts.
Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | February 3, 2023 (Last update: March 9, 2023)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website: www.lalitkumar.in

A study conducted by the National Science Foundation (of the US) states that human beings get 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day and 80% of these thoughts are negative! Certainly, we are not talking about eliminating 80% of thoughts from your mind. In fact, it is a very risky idea. We are wired to get negative or critical thoughts as a safety mechanism. Our negative thoughts are meant to make us ready for any threat thus keeping us safe.

But, this mechanism of threat detection can itself become a threat when we don’t control them. Negative thoughts become a matter of concern when we start focusing more on them than positive thoughts. Negative thoughts are like fires or knives that are important tools but can severely damage us if not handled with care.

In this write-up, we have discussed the important tips to prevent yourself from going into a rut of negative thinking.

Tip 1: Acknowledge the Negative Thought

We often misunderstand the concept of staying positive. Being positive doesn’t mean ignoring negative thoughts. In fact, when you ignore the negative thoughts arising in your mind they stick around for a long and the intensity keeps growing. The first step towards dealing with negative thoughts is to acknowledge the negative thought and feelings. Does your physical condition make you feel helpless? Are you feeling lonely because you are cut from the social circle? Do the inaccessible infrastructures make you feel frustrated? Whatever it is that is bothering you or making you feel negative emotions just acknowledge that. Just acknowledging thoughts and feelings make us feel better.

Tip 2: Get Around Positive People with Whom You Can Connect

Negativity and positivity both are contagious. So, make sure to surround yourself with positive people. Here is a catch, you need to be around positive people with whom you ‘can connect’. The feeling of connection is very important. A person struggling with a terminal illness can’t stay positive if surrounded by positive people who aren’t going through a similar condition. It may even make them feel miserable. A person who loses their ability to walk won’t feel positive if someone who can run tells them that they can still live a full life without the ability to walk. But, a person living in the same condition with a positive attitude will always inspire. Becoming part of a support group with people living with the similar condition has a good impact for the same reason.

Tip 3: Celebrate Small Happiness

Celebrating every little achievement and happiness is an effective way of living a positive mindset and saving yourself from the vicious cycle of negativity. Finding big happiness or achieving big success might be a task but finding tiny reasons to smile is not a tough task. If you are someone living with chronic pain, having a pain-free day or even an hour is worth celebrating. If you are recovering from surgery or disease, walking those few steps is a good reason to celebrate. If you can’t see the world, listening to that birds chirp early morning deserves a grateful smile.

Tip 4: Keep Yourself Productively Busy

You must have heard that old saying – ‘An empty mind is a devil’s workshop’. Negative thoughts clutch us more mercilessly when we are sitting alone and idle. Our minds can never sit idle. If you want to shut down its negative and useless chatter, you need to get it busy with something else. So, keeping oneself productively busy is a good way to keep away negativity. If your disability is so severe that it keeps you mostly confined at home and you can’t get a job, develop some hobby. Just don’t let your mind sit idle. Productivity boosts the level of happy hormones.

Tip 5: Breathe Consciously

The best way to interrupt the trains of negative thoughts immediately is a deep conscious breath. As soon as you notice yourself drifting into a negative thought, especially if it’s repetitive, just take a deep breath. You can do this as many times in a day as you want. Deep conscious breathing has many positive impacts on the mind and body. The best one is that it makes us feel relaxed instantly and the relaxed feeling is quite noticeable.

Conclusion

There are numerous ways, including meditation, journaling, gratitude, affirmations, talking to a loved one, etc., for handling negative thoughts. Different people may have different ways of coping with the negative thoughts arising in their minds. You can adopt any. Just remember to acknowledge your negative thoughts, deal with issues with positivity and not let these thoughts drown you in negativity.

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