I get anxious a lot. I worry about the silliest things, like if the trailer on the other side of the road will suddenly fall on my head and catch fire, or if it’ll never stop raining in Lagos and the world will end in a flood.
Sometimes, a little criticism makes me feel like a failure. And if someone disagrees with something I believe is right, it makes me feel like an unintelligent buffoon.
Also, (don’t judge me) I’m the type of person who cries and feels worthless because I scored 99/100 on an exam. I know I think too much, but sometimes, I just can’t help it.
Can you relate? (Hi, bestie!) Well, negative thoughts are normal. We’re wired to scan our environments, searching for things to fix or keep under control. We spend substantial amounts of mental energy second-guessing things to make sure they’re perfect — that’s just the way we are.
But negative thoughts become a problem when we believe they’re true. In fact, negative thoughts can be dangerous to your mental health, particularly if you suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression.
Thankfully, there are practical ways to deal with negative thoughts and embrace a positive mindset. I know this because I use them, and they work for me. Ride with me!
When I catch myself thinking negatively about the most random silly things, like how a mysterious vehicle from nowhere will hit me if I step outside my house, the first thing I do is pause, then acknowledge my thoughts. That helps me put the situation in perspective.
Acknowledging negative thoughts entails:
❤️ accepting that your thoughts are negative.
❤️ searching for/recognizing patterns that may lead to them.
❤️ analyzing the thoughts to know if there are any triggers behind them.
Always keep in mind that negative thoughts are normal, but they’re not true. One typo in an article doesn’t mean my writing career is over. And scoring 5/10 on a test doesn’t mean I’m dumb.
So, to rid your mind of negative thoughts, replace them with facts. Here’s a practical way to do that:
❤️ Acknowledge the thoughts you want to change.
❤️ Recognize what you want to change about them.
❤️ Repeat the new thoughts to yourself and act by them.
The mind becomes what it absorbs, so if you want to get rid of negative thoughts and adopt a positive mindset, be intentional about surrounding yourself with positivity.
By eliminating everything that bears negativity around you, the rate at which you develop negative thoughts will reduce. Here are some ways to boost your positivity:
❤️ Surround yourself with positive people.
❤️ Avoid sad songs or movies.
❤️ Take a social media break — social media can be very toxic.
❤️ Avoid the morning news — it’s usually depressing and negative.
Journaling is an interesting and effective way to handle negative thoughts. I’ve been journaling actively for about 5 years, and I think it’s amazing how clear my thoughts become when I begin to write them down.
Journaling will help you to understand your thoughts and feelings, assess them objectively, and see the bigger picture. So, instead of brooding over sad or disturbing thoughts, write them down. From there, you can work on replacing them.
Sharing your thoughts with people you trust won’t take them away, but it feels good to know that you’re not alone in what you’re dealing with. Also, their input can help you see things in a different light.
Instead of sitting around and moping over your thoughts, get active. Take a long walk, do some yoga, jog, lift weights, et cetera.
Exercising helps to keep the body active and relieves stress. It reduces the production of stress hormones and increases dopamine and serotonin secretion (feel-good hormones) in the brain.
Affirmations are simple statements that help to deal with negative thoughts, cultivate a positive mindset, and increase self-confidence by focusing on your strengths.
Examples of positive affirmations:
❤️ I can do whatever I set my mind to.
❤️ I am good at what I do.
❤️ I am worthy of love, joy, and success.
❤️ No one can dictate my worth to me.
❤️ It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.
❤️ Everything will be okay.
❤️ I learn from my mistakes and evolve every day.
When you constantly repeat positive affirmations to yourself, you’re rewiring your mind and teaching it to adopt a positive mindset.
I practise these tips, and they work for me; I believe they can work for you, too! But if you still find it hard to keep negative thoughts in check, you should reach out to a mental health professional. And if you have any more questions, drop a comment or reach out to us!