How to Turn Negative Thoughts Into Positive Ones

October 31, 2018

Having reoccurring negative and obsessive thoughts in our mind can make us feel like we’re submerged in some kind of black hole. We don’t see the light and we can’t help but feel hopeless. Therefore, knowing how to turn negative thoughts into positive ones is not a need, but a tool for survival. Learning to do this and applying it in our daily life reduces feelings of anxiety and allows us to move forward.

Experts in emotional psychology say that it’s permissible to have up to 3 negative thoughts per day. At the end of the day, it’s not about seeing life through rose-colored glasses, avoiding reality, and letting our fears and worries get the best of us. The key to this is not letting ourselves get carried away by those thoughts that, more often than not, make it impossible for us to feel capable of overcoming difficulties and growing on a personal level.

We’ve all been victims of this. Sometimes, we experience thoughts that tell us things such as “You’re not worth it”, “You’re going to fail”, or “It doesn’t matter how hard you try, you won’t succeed”. We’re all human, and it’s not uncommon for our minds to wander and sabotage us every once in a while.

Something that the famous neuroimaging laboratory of the University of California revealed is that everyone experiences up to 70,000 thoughts in one day, many of which tend to be negative, limiting, and frustrating. Now, there’s only one thing we can do in order to overcome those thoughts: accept them and turn them around. Let’s see how to turn negative thoughts into positive ones.

A woman holding a cloud in her hands.

Learn to turn negative thoughts into positive ones

A negative emotional state ends up feeding on the negative thoughts it produces. This is something most of us understand but don’t always perceive. The reason for this is that we don’t really give ourselves the time or use the adequate strategies we need in order to fight these harmful emotions correctly.

For example, when we get home from work, we tend to feel exhausted, bothered, and worried. Due to the discomfort we feel, we prefer to ignore those emotions instead of getting to the bottom of them. Some people might disagree, but the truth is that those black holes we sink into will get bigger and bigger if we don’t take control of the situation.

Day by day, those negative emotions continue to change our internal emotional balance and the quality of our thoughts. Discomfort and frustration give place to those mental patterns where only negative and obsessive thoughts arise. If they aren’t controlled, bigger problems such as depression or anxiety disorders might emerge.

Identify negative thoughts and accept them without resistance

In 2012, the University of Rhode Island published a very interesting study in the Psychology & Aging magazine. Their goal was to discover how negative thoughts affected each age group. The results were very clear. It doesn’t matter if we’re young or old, these psychological realities produce anguish and are often the trigger for many diseases.

First off, a key strategy for transforming negative thoughts into positive ones is knowing how to identify negative dialogues. This may surprise us at first, although it’s very evident. More often than not, we don’t realize just how subordinated we are to obsessive, negative, and limiting thoughts.

  • We must know how to detect negative thoughts. Something that could be of great help to you is having a journal where you write down everything that comes to mind during the day. This will help you be more self-aware and keep track of how you’re really feeling.
  • Don’t hide or block negative thoughts. Make an effort to accept them as they are. Once you’ve detected them, it’ll be easier for you to transform them.
A girl writing down her negative thoughts in a journal.

Contrast, refute, and weaken

Is there a justification for that negative thought? Do I have any proof that demonstrates that what I’m thinking could actually happen? You must understand that just because it’s a thought, it doesn’t mean it’s real. The mind can deceive us. It often does us dirty and it can let itself get carried away by fear or the need to stay in our comfort zone.

Keep track of your thoughts and look for evidence that demonstrates or contradicts each one of those ideas.

Reformulate your thought process adequately

Redefining our thoughts in a more appropriate way always weighs negativity down. Now, it’s important to do it correctly and not focus on a naive and unrealistic positivity. Let’s see some examples of this:

  • “I’m going to get fired from my job.” So far, there’s nothing that has proven that it’s actually going to happen, I’ve been doing my job just fine. On the other hand, I must be prepared in case it does happen. It’s important to have a plan B in case they do fire me, but for now, I’m going to focus on doing a good job.
  • “I don’t think my significant other loves me as much as they used to.” What evidence do I have to think this way? If I really believe this, I should have a serious talk with them. I must understand that relationships take effort and commitment and that a negative attitude will only make things worse.
  • “I’m scared, I have a feeling that something bad is going to happen.” What’s making me feel this way? Is there something going wrong in my life right now? I must keep in mind that I’m okay and that everyone around me is fine, too. I should distract myself doing something I enjoy. Perhaps I should start a new project or do something that makes me feel motivated.
Two arrows pointing to different directions: failure or success.

Let all those negative emotions out and submerge yourself in a world of positive thoughts

We pointed out at the beginning that emotions condition the quality of our thoughts. A great strategy to stop the course of a wandering mind that’s obsessed with negative and fatalist thoughts is to embrace positive thoughts instead.

Making small changes in our daily routines can often cause an overall productive change. Don’t be afraid to give yourself some time off – it’ll definitely make you feel more relieved. Useful practices such as mindfulness, artistic therapies, or even meeting new people always bring enriching benefits.

The mind can become negative and destructive. When this happens, there’s nothing better than opening a window to let it get some oxygen, relax, and get a new perspective on things. We should learn to keep our thoughts under control instead of letting them control us.