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4 expert ways to trick your brain into reframing negative thoughts

Published Jul 12th, 2022 9:56AM EDT
man dealing with negative thoughts
Image: stokkete / Adobe

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Negative thoughts can completely dismantle your outlook on life, your relationships, and even your potential for success. While the idea of just thinking positive thoughts seems nice, it isn’t always that simple. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit around and accept the negative thoughts as they are. In fact, there are a few things you can do to try to reframe those negative thoughts.

reframe negative thoughts for a more positive outlook on lifeImage source: pikselstock / Adobe

There are a lot of negative thoughts that one can entertain about themselves. Whether you’re beating yourself up over a project, dealing with anxiety, or fighting back negative thoughts about yourself in general, dealing with negative thoughts can be difficult. Your main priority when dealing with these kinds of thoughts should be to neutralize them before they cause too much damage.

But how do you neutralize or reframe negative thoughts? Well, as it turns out, a lot of it has to do with the type of thought. If you’re dealing with negative thoughts about a project, then researchers say increasing the strength of your motivation can be key to moving past those thoughts. Facing a task that you feel like you cannot complete can easily dissipate any energy you have.

Instead, researchers say you should focus on how motivated you are to complete the project. That means focusing your belief on the outcome that you will complete the project and that you will complete it successfully. This can help you feel like you have enough energy to complete whatever project you’re dealing with at the moment.

If you need to reframe negative thoughts about yourself, then researchers suggest adopting a growth mindset. This essentially means you focus on ways to overcome challenges, instead of letting yourself feel like you have a bunch of limitations on your abilities. (via FastCompany)

Anxiety, actions and habits

man dealing with negative thoughtsImage source: Drobot Dean / Adobe

Other negative thoughts you might need to reframe include thoughts that reflect anxiety, as well as thoughts about actions and habits. If you have a habit that you believe you need to stop doing, you may be thinking about it a lot. When you give that habit a lot of thought, you’re more likely to commit it.

Instead, researchers suggest looking for alternative actions or habits to do instead. This way you’ll focus on the positive of doing something else and not the negative of trying not to do your habit.

Additionally, if you’re dealing with thoughts about anxiety, then thinking too much about them can cause you to get lost in those thoughts even more. This only increases your anxiety. This cycle is known as rumination, and it can be very tough to reframe negative thoughts centered around anxiety. But, it isn’t impossible.

One way you can break up the cycle is to take part in physical activity. This will make it more difficult to focus on the negative because you’re expending your energy elsewhere. You can also try making a list of positive things you want to focus on in your life. Then, when you need to reframe your negative thoughts, pull out the list and go over what you’re grateful for in life.

Of course, none of these tricks is an end-all-be-all to negative thoughts. Reframing your negative thoughts is an ongoing process that never ends. Just remember to focus on the positive and try to move past those thoughts when they do pop up.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.