How To Get Rid of Negative Thoughts

Posted on July 8, 2015

1. Focused distraction

The natural tendency when trying to get your mind off, say, a social gaff you made, is to try and think about something else. The mind wanders around looking for new things to focus on, hopefully leaving you in peace. Distraction does work but, oddly enough, studies suggest it is better to distract yourself with one thing, rather than letting the mind wander. That’s because aimless mind wandering is associated with unhappiness; it’s better to concentrate on, say, a specific piece of music, a TV programme or a task.

2. Avoid stress

Another intuitive method for avoiding persistent thoughts is to put ourselves under stress. The thinking here is that the rush will leave little mental energy for the thoughts that are troubling us. When tested scientifically, this turns out to be a bad approach. In fact, rather than being a distraction, stress makes the unwanted thoughts come back stronger, so it certainly should not be used as a way of avoiding unpleasant thoughts.

3. Postpone the thought until later

While continuously trying to suppress a thought makes it come back stronger, postponing it until later can work. Researchers have tried asking those with persistent anxious thoughts to postpone their worrying until a designated 30-minute ‘worry period’. Some studies suggest that people find this works as a way of side-stepping thought suppression. So save up all your worrying for a designated period and this may ease your mind the rest of the time.

4. Acceptance

Along similar lines, but not so direct, there’s some evidence that trying to accept unwanted thoughts rather than doing battle with them can be beneficial. Here are the instructions from one study which found it decreased participants’ distress: “Struggling with your target thought is like struggling in quicksand. I want you to watch your thoughts. Imagine that they are coming out of your ears on little signs held by marching soldiers. I want you to allow the soldiers to march by in front of you, like a little parade. Do not argue with the signs, or avoid them, or make them go away. Just watch them march by.” (Marcks & Woods, 2005, p. 440)


Category(s):Happiness

Source material from PsyBlog


Mental Health News

  • Recalling Emotional Memories

    newsthumbWith the recent media focus on the Kavanaugh-Ford scandal, questions regarding recall and memory have surfaced. A special form of memory is ...

  • To what extent is it Emotional Abuse?

    newsthumbThis article helps us identify what is deemed as emotional abuse, when and how is an action or situation a form of emotional abuse.

  • Inequality as a disorder

    newsthumbEconomic inequality is one of the signs that foreshadows societal disorder. It can also negatively impact people’s lives and is highly associated ...