self improvement

7 Ways to Clear Your Mind of Negative Thoughts

Negative thinking can be a habit of mind.  Thoughts sink in and linger there until you take action to get rid of them.

When you first start thinking negatively, it can be tempting to try and force those thoughts out of your head.  You try as hard as possible to stop thinking about them and push them out.

But this approach often backfires.  Resisting those negative thoughts can actually reinforce that thinking pattern and just make things worse.  The more you try not to think about something, the more you actually end up thinking about it.

To get rid of negative thinking, you need to try a different approach – something that will clear your mind of those negative thoughts once and for all.

Here are seven ways to clear your mind of negative thinking.

1. Change your body language

Take a moment to observe your body language.  Are you slouching with a closed stance?  Are you frowning?

If you are, you’re more likely to think negatively.

Bad body language can lower your self-image and lead to a lack of confidence.  In that emotional state, it’s only natural to start having bad thoughts.

Sit up straight in a confident manner.  Open your stance and smile more.

Fix your body language and you’ll feel a lot better.  It might be just what you need to clear those negative thoughts.

2. Talk it out

Sometimes negative thinking occurs because you have issues or emotions you need to get out.

It’s not good to keep things to yourself.  If you have something that needs to be addressed, you should talk through them with someone.

Putting things into words gives your thoughts shape and form.  That can help you put things into perspective so you can deal with them at the root of the problem.

3. Spend one minute calming your mind of all thought

When your mind is running a mile a minute, it can be hard to keep up.  With everything racing around your head, it can be hard to control the thoughts going on inside – especially the negative ones.

Slow things down.  One minute of calming is often all it takes.

It’s kind of like meditation – you’re emptying your mind.  Think of it as a reboot.  Once it’s empty, you can fill it with something a little more positive.

4. Change the tone of your thoughts

Sometimes negative thinking is the result of poor perspective.  Take a look at the point of view you take on the things going on around you.

For example, instead of thinking, “I’m going through a difficult time and I’m having trouble,” think “I’m facing some challenges, but I’m working on finding solutions.”

You’re basically saying the same thing, except the second way has a more positive spin to it.  But sometimes that little tonal shift can make a huge difference to your thinking patterns.

5. Be creative

When negative thoughts come, it can pay to spend some time creatively.

Find a creative outlet for your thoughts.  Write things out.  Draw or paint something – even if you have to use a crayon.  As long as you’re using your creativity to get your negativity out, it can work.

Exploring your emotions through creativity acts like auto-therapy and can elevate your mood.

Creativity can feel like a release.  When you put your emotions through an art form, you get them out of your system and clear them out.

6. Take a walk

Because thoughts arise in the mind, it’s easy to assume that’s where they’re formed.  Well, that’s only partly true.

Sometimes our thoughts are a product of our environment.  For example, if you surrounded yourself with negative people and negative imagery, you’d probably start to think negatively in turn.

Stepping away from a negative environment can help immensely.  Take a walk alone away from your usual atmosphere.  Head somewhere uplifting like a park or museum.

Time spent distancing yourself from those negative influences can bring you great peace of mind.

7. Start listing out what you’re grateful for

Have you forgotten all the good things you have going for you?  Sometimes in the daily grind, we lose focus on all the ways things that are going right in our lives.

If that’s you, then you need to re-train your mind to focus on all the good happening around you instead of the bad.

List off everything you’re grateful for no matter how small they seem to be.

Don’t take anything for granted anymore.  Sometimes the good things in our lives are right in front of our faces and we still fail to see them.

Stop being blind to the positive things you already have going for you.

Steve is the writer behind Do Something Cool where he blogs about travel, motivation, personal growth and adventure.  He’s always looking for ways to make life more interesting.  Get tips on living life to the fullest through his Facebook fan page and Twitter.

  • http://guide2successinlife.com/ Bella Manetti

    Welcome
    with gratitude the abundance that is all around you. :)

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      There’s usually so much to already be positive about. We should never forget that.

  • http://www.yawncentral.com/ YawnCentral

    For me taking a walk and better yet lifting heavy weights gets rid of negative thoughts right away. Deadlifts are like a drug.

    It always gives me that good ol dopamine and adrenaline rush :P

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      I love lifting weights too for that reason too. Deadlifts in particular can get you in a good place.

      • http://www.yawncentral.com/ YawnCentral

        Psychology-wise and health-wise AND looks-wise

    • Allan Doodleberry

      Thanks for that comment, I sometimes forget how good deadlifts make me feel and I can easily fall out of the habit of doing them regularly.

      • http://www.yawncentral.com/ YawnCentral

        Dude, deadlifts are the shit. Just make sure you maintain proper form while doing it or you will find yourself with a slipped disc – a debilitating condition. Back straight, drive with your legs first then pull it up through your thighs using your glutes then slam it back down. Slowly putting that weight down is dangerous.

  • http://www.simplecapacity.com/ Nikola Gjakovski

    Really good article. Bad thoughts are people worst enemies.

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      I’m glad you liked the article. They really can be your own worst enemy.

  • Amy

    Thank you for this, I needed it today!

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      I’m glad you liked the post, Amy!

  • http://www.vishnusvirtues.com/ Vishnu

    Good tips, Steve. Negative thoughts are simply an illusion – they don’t exist although they tend to clutter up our minds. I like how many of these tips break our patterns of thinking, shift our attention and provides constructive steps to remove negative thoughts permanently. Although nothing is permanent, some of these pattern-changes, especially the one minute mindfulness and gratefulness, will help significantly help reduce the negativity floating through our minds.

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      That’s what they are – clutter. You don’t need those thoughts banging around your head taking up space. It’s better to use your thinking for other, more constructive things.

    • Alissa

      Love the comment Vishnu – I’m almost more interested in hearing you write an article on this topic, I like the way you express thoughts – even if they are simply thoughtful illusions :)

  • Kpom Kwem

    Great article, Steve. If only news media would be more positive, rather than flood our eyes and ears with negativity. That’s why I stopped watching CNN – I can’t watch 5 minutes of it without hearing about deaths/killings/crimes/blah blah blah.

    To add to your list, another way to clear your mind of such thoughts would be to be around positive people: those that think positive, that don’t complain, that see the positive side of things and of people, and don’t gossip about others.

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      You make a good point about those who gossip. I’ve been around them and they’re almost always negative. That’s the kind of stuff gossipers like to share.

  • http://www.leadingedgeadvocate.com/ Lea

    I like the suggestion of talking it out. Getting off your chest does help.

    Plus, in talking it out sometimes you can come to the realization that you’re negativity is unfounded. Which brings you right back around to the positive.

    ~Lea

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      That’s true. Negativity can be irrational. When you talk through it, you can realize just how illogical it is.

  • http://www.lifelonglearningcenter.net Leslie Frey

    Steve, I completely agree that “stop thinking negative thoughts” approach is naive, at best. Nice job compiling these strategies to move through the thought.

    I like the seventh of listing what you’re grateful for to help shift your focus, and I would add to take it a step forward.

    Have you ever been whitewater canoeing or kayaking? You see the rock in the middle of the river and think, “Oh, no, I don’t want to hit the rock! Not the rock!” Guess what happens? You hit the rock, every time.

    Why? You will always go where you put your focus. So after listing what you’re grateful for and getting into the mindset of positivity, then ask, “If not the rock, what do I want?”

    Get as clear a picture as possible in your mind, imagining the sights, the sounds, the emotional states that would come with getting what you want.

    Whenever you find yourself thinking about the rock, replace the thought with what you want instead and paddle hard!

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      Yes, I have been whitewater rafting. Luckily I didn’t focus too hard on the rocks and hit one, it would have been terrible.

      But yeah, we focus on whatever we put our minds on, even if it’s trying to not focus on that thing. It’s like trying to not think of a black cat. You can’t help think about it.

  • Shekar

    Thanks steve.. Awesome article

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      Thanks, Shekar. I’m glad you liked it!

  • Omar Elkady

    Really awesome articles i love it to much, and it’s very simple and clear :)
    Thoughts what make our life better or worth
    thanks Steve for this :)

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      I’m glad you like the post, Omar!

      • steveFAN

        Steve this is really great! :D

  • SimpleLifeStrategies

    I really enjoyed this Steve. Some great tips!

    I also have a technique that I use with clients where I get them to change the tone of the internal negative voice (ie if it’s high pitched then make it low pitched). I find this works well to interrupt the negative thoughts!

    I like your idea that sometime we just need to release emotions – this is where a good friend can come in handy!

    Zoe B

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. A good friend can definitely come in handy.

  • susan mccann

    Lots of good practical suggestions. I agree it’s much better to change the way we look at things, it’s the only way to get out of as you say the negative habit we often get into about things that wind us up.

    • http://dosomethingcool.net/ Steve

      Thanks, Susan. I’m glad you like the suggestions.

  • http://about.me/turkertunali Turker Tunali

    I like the image as much as article.

  • Rox Bradnick

    Love this – all great tips. To add to your list, one of my favourite strategies these days is thinking ‘outward’ rather than ‘inward’. When I start feeling sorry for myself, or worrying, or stressing, I put my embarrassingly short attention span to work, and I focus on thinking outside of my own selfish world.

    Ooh, there is a bird on that tree outside! What is it eating? What kind of bug is that? *goes to Google* Oh look – those bugs are the favourite food of blah blah birds as well as otters (not really, but you get my drift).

    Three reasons for this obvious yet easy to forget trick. 1) soon as I let my mind wander, I stop whatever negative emotion I was feeling. 2) happy thoughts help the brain to produce dopamine, which is also linked to brain boosting – ergo, happy + learning = good stuff. 3) interrupting negative thoughts consistently will break down those nasty neural pathways that make you end up with SadFM on repeat.

    Oh yes, it also helps to consider that the brain can’t tell the difference between memory/thoughts and actual events. So thinking about sad/bad/mad times is like putting your brain through that hell all over again. Be kind to your brain – say no to negative thoughts! :)

  • Sucharit Chaudhuri

    Excellent article on how to eliminate bad thought. It is essential for positive approach. These are simple tips we can apply easily and practice every day.

  • Steven Cournoyer

    Hi Steve, Great read!
    I had this pop into my mind several weeks ago and feel this is a good opportunity to share it with you and your readers.
    Don’t let bad or negative thoughts run away with you. Once you start on a path of stinking thinking and you start to cogitate and dwell on the negative thoughts which I’ve been completely guilty of myself, your emotions can spin out of control.
    You have the power within you to make a more powerful choice right in that moment. The awareness alone will be a better choice.
    Once you are aware of the thoughts you think and you identify an unpleasant thought and see it in your mind, you have the ability to whether that thought is worth dwelling on.
    Let the negative thought pass through your mind like a passing cloud in the sky and focus on a more powerful productive thought to dwell on. Think of the most powerful, beautiful thought you can think of in that moment. Dwell on that thought and the feel as if you are already living it. Take that feeling in, Believe it in.
    -Steve Cournoyer

  • Gabriel Wintermute

    Steve your writing abilities are fierce! Keep up the excellent work, and thank you!

  • http://nookselfimprove.com Corey Preiss

    I’ve always been a postive thinker since I was a kid. Smile, be happy, be yourself and everything is fine. Nice article.

  • Marcy Palmeri

    Thank you for this article. I truly needed it as a source of motivation. I particularly liked, “Success is when you feel so much fear about doing something that you almost talk yourself out of doing it. Then you scrounge up that last bit of courage and do it anyway.
    It’s the moment you let go of the need to be perfect.”

  • http://www.designfacet.com/ Sean Jamshidi

    Shit happens to everyone, so thinking that it is my bad luck will only worsen your thoughts about you and the outcome is negative all around. Learn to accept that this is life and we all have good and bad times.

  • lee

    very great suggestion,i will take it for myself!!!

  • hilal

    Change the tone of your thoughts! that’s reallyhilal great idea :)

  • Victvr

    Excellent tips!