How To Deal With Unwanted Negative Thoughts?

We beat ourselves up wondering – why am I always thinking negative – not realizing that this is also a negative thought. This article is all about how to escape negative thinking for good and start living life more sanely.

First of all it’s important to distinguish between practical thinking and negative thinking. The former is an essential necessity of daily living with the latter is just a waste of vital energy.

Practical thinking – it involves predicting the future based on our past learning and taking necessary action to fulfill certain goals. There are times when we have to be cautious and on the alert to safe guard our life, like when crossing the road or while driving. It’s also important to have some means of generating income to lead a certain lifestyle. All of this falls under practical “daily living” thinking.

So What’s Negative Thinking?

Any form of obsessive thinking which serves no practical value, other than to make us suffer, will constitute negative thinking. Some examples of negative thinking patterns are as below

  1. Worrying about being fired from your job without any concrete reason to support such a thought.
  2. Frantically consumed by the thought of being cheated on by your girlfriend or wife or husband without any proof to support such a belief.
  3. Thinking about all the things that could go wrong with you at the office party
  4. Worrying about what will happen to you after retirement, 10 years before you retire.

You know when you are thinking negative because you feel it in your body. There will be a sense of restlessness, unease and sometimes a nauseating constriction felt through out your body when you are thinking obsessive negative thoughts.

Worrying obsessively is a form of negative thinking. Resenting the past, or feeling guilty about the things you did back then, is another form negative thinking.

Quite simply, when your negativity is projected in the future it’s called worrying and when it’s pointed towards the past it’s usually guilt or resentment.

How to Escape Negative Thinking?

When majority of your waking hours are spent in negative thinking, you are living an insane life. So the pertinent question would be how can I live more sanely. A mild amount of stress is needed to survive, but that’s not a problem at all. What is problematic is an obsession with negative thinking patterns.

Here are a few techniques to cut through the pattern of negative thinking.

Byron Katie’s Technique:

If you are asking – why am I always thinking negative – it could well be because you are wired to self-criticism. You have a lot self-loathing inside you, which manifest externally as negative thoughts.

Byron Katie devised a simple technique to cut through the mire of self-loathing and fear through self enquiry or introspection. Every time you have a negative thought, ask yourself the below questions and write down the answer to each.

  1. Am I 100% percent confident of the truth in this thought? Or Am I deeply certain that this is a true thought.
  2. What is this thought making me feel and go through (write down all the physical sensations you feel in your body)
  3. Now reverse the thought and find out five reasons why it’s true ( for example, if you original thought was “I am terrified that I will lose my job”, just reverse it in any way – “I am not terrified that I will lose my job” or “I am terrified that I will not lose my job” and find five reasons why these thoughts are true)

The third step is the most vital one. Reverse your original thought in as many ways as you can and find out 5 reasons why it could be true. If you just put in some effort, and honesty, you can easily come up with 5 reasons even if you initially think the “reverse thought” to be most absurd.

Just try this technique with any one of your negative thought patterns and see how easily it breaks through it. You will realize that the mind was just repeating the negative thought without any concrete reason that you need to fear about. The thought will then lose its grip on you.

Eckhart Tolle’s Practice of Present Moment Awareness:

Negative thoughts arise because of our preoccupation with the past and the future. When we are obsessed with the future we feel anxiety, stress and unease. While thinking about the past negatively causes us to feel guilty or resentful.

Ultimately, both the future and the past exist completely in our mind as images or projections. They have no reality beyond the images running through our mind. The past cannot be relived and the future never comes. Only the present moment has a reality to it.

If you rest your attention in the present moment, you will see that there are no problems in the now. Any thought of a problem is always pertaining to either the past or the future. When you are deeply attuned to the present moment awareness, the mind stops churning out thoughts and focuses on dealing with just the now.

Here are Few Techniques to Enter the Field of Now

  1. Become conscious of your breathing. Don’t try to control it, just place your attention on it. Remain this way for a minute. When you place your attention on your breath, you are no longer occupied in the mind and you become aware of the present moment.
  2. Look around you and become acutely aware of the objects in your surrounding. Don’t try to label the objects but just look and take in the presence of each object in your vicinity.
  3. Listen deeply to the sounds around you. Try to detect the most subtle sound that’s audible.
  4. Feel the sensation of your touch. Hold something and feel it deeply.
  5. If you are eating something, feel the taste and the smell of each morsel or bite.
  6. While you are walking, become aware of each step that you take and your body movements.

The bottom line is to drag your attention away from mind and place it in the present moment. When you do this you will feel your own presence deeply. The purity of your presence is very powerful and it has the capacity for right action.

Obsessive negative thoughts have a habit of repeating themselves. It’s like tape recorder rewinding itself again and again. Such patterns are created because you are unconsciously living in the mind and there is no presence in your life.

Initially it is difficult to stay present even for a few seconds, but with practice you can become more and more aware. When you stop investing attention in your mind you will see life unfold beautifully. You will stop thinking negatively because you are not longer dwelling in your mind.

Living in the now is like walking the narrow space between the past and the future, all it requires is your presence. It’s a powerful shift in consciousness. You will notice how life starts working for you rather than against you when you stay in the present constantly.

In conclusion

You have to make a choice on whether you want to go through life in an insane manner or in a sane manner. Life is always asking you to make this one choice. Your negative thinking is nothing but a resistance to life itself. The only way to drop it is by bringing negative thought patterns to the light of your presence and scrutiny. Then you realize there was no truth to them to start with.












38 comments

  • Ronda says:

    I have been in recovery for 2 years and have worked my steps. But I have been having trouble lately with focusing on all of the things I have done in my past. I can beat myself up mentally and have myself think I am such a horrible person. This article helped a lot. I think it is just a habit or some type of learned behavior that needs to be unlearned. I am staying in today because the past is gone, the only purpose it can possible serve is to keep bringing me that insane life that I don’t live anymore. I don’t need to feel shame and guilt, that part of my life is over and done. Staying in today!!!! Thanks for the reminder.

  • Rukmani says:

    Hi Sen,

    It feels good to read about what you have mentioned and also to know that I am not the only one suffering with an obsession of negative thinking and a victim of self loath.

    Like many other people I just feel drained out and feel so hopeless and low. I seldom have images flash in my mind of loosing loved ones in accidents or due to some illness and I live in this constant fear every single day.

    Also of late I have realized that I have become very paranoid in my relationship with my boyfriend from one year. I know he loves me dearly and would do anything to make me happy but for some reasons I always feel unsure about him and our relationship and feel like ending it up. He knows about it and asks me not to think so much and especially stop stressing myself as he gets impacted eventually losing his calm.

    I have this constant feeling that I am superior to him in all respects – intellectually, professionally, emotionally, etc… I always feel that people will loathe our relationship as I have a stable job and he still goes to school. I find myself to handle situations, people, etc. more maturely than him. In short I feel all the time that I am more wiser than him but don’t understand that if that is the case why am I clinging on to him. I tried ending it up but then I myself walked up to him to get back together. This has become a habit and after regular intervals I am in the dilemma to either proceed with our relation or step back.. This situation majorly arises because of my negative thoughts that he won’t be able to do well and I will always be better than him and that my dear ones would loathe at us which would make me very stressed and uncomfortable. I am not sure where are relationship is going. I have become very unstable with my thoughts for him and in my relationship. I can’t figure out if I will be happy with him or not; at the same time I respect his emotions and do not want to mess his life in between my confusions and instability and negativity in thoughts. Please help me to get away with my negative thinking. I sometimes feel if I need to see a counselor or if I suffer from bipolar disease… Please help!!!!

  • Lisa says:

    Mine comes from putting so into a relationship and trusting that I always ended up hurt emotionally, physically and now it’s got me mentally. I am just so scared that my boyfriend now will leave me and he lies to me, which I know he doesn’t. It’s just what I think. I feel so deeply scared from things in the past that it now affects my present. I need to get a grip cause I don’t want to spend my life alone. I am trying to tell myself things that are positive but something or someone {not referring to my spouse} seems to happen or comes into play. I feel like I am loosing my mind and I am not even sure I can get past this.

  • Bianca says:

    I have been having a lot of negative thoughts lately to the point that I have difficulty sleeping. It takes me hours to get to sleep and by that time it’s already morning. And this has added to the thoughts that I am already having. So, thank you for this article. Hopefully it helps me become free of these thoughts.

  • Ellen says:

    Hello Sen, I am so glad i came across this article. I am extremely paranoid and always have negative thoughts that my boyfriend is either lying or cheating on me. To be honest, yes he has cheated in the past we have been together for almost 4 years now and from what I know of he only cheated on me once at the beginning of our relationship. I found out, confronted him and he was really sorry and eventually I took him back. But now I accuse him of cheating all of the time or of lying to me he has been trying to prove to me over and over that he loves me and that he would never do that again. I believe him but I don’t get why I accuse him all of the time. I am ruining my relationship and I need to change my negative thinking. I know I sound like a crazy person but it’s just so hard to stop the negative thoughts when that’s how I have always been. He is such a good guy, I don’t want to push him away with negativity. I know there is only so much a guy is going to take. Help!

  • Nicola says:

    Wow, if only it really worked! I will try but I feel like I have been trying to change the way I let some thoughts haunt me but it has been over twenty years. Will I ever be the relaxed, easy going happy positive person I want to be or is this just me? The more I go the more I think that this is the way I am. My boyfriend is someone very positive and doesn’t understand why I put myself through these tortures of past family problems or even the something someone said that I just can’t get out of my head. We are destroying each, he wants me to be happy (I want to be happy too, I am happy sometimes) and I want him to understand that it’s not as easy as Just Be Happy. Well for me it’s not just that easy. And now I have got to the point where I just want to be me! I don’t feel I can waste any more energy on fighting to think differently. Aarhh!

  • Sam says:

    Wow I just felt the most intense bliss ever! If you are wondering if it’s worth stilling the mind I can tell you it’s like taking a drug that opens up the pleasure centers in the brain except it’s good for you not addictive and healthy! Thank you, no need to reply!

  • Pamela says:

    Hello Sen, what is ironic about me is that I love my life and I love working but every-time I need to start working and being productive and efficient in my life, bad thoughts form and weaken me by making me lose my time on them. I don’t know why I never think negatively but when I decide to better myself! It’s like I create them out of no where just to be terrified and so that my happiness is hindered. I feel so weak that I can’t stop. I can’t even understand why do they form. Help!

  • Sen(Author) says:

    CA – Law of attraction works in your favor as soon as you align with “relaxing” instead of aligning with moving through fear. Just allow yourself to stay in as a relaxed space without identifying with the fear-based thoughts of the mind. This will allow a deeper wisdom to start operating in your life and will also allow the influx of positive realities owing to your vibration of peace. Right now a lot of your actions are being inspired from a vibration of insecurity rather than from a place of wisdom. The more you let go of identifying with the mind’s fear based movement, and stay as a relaxed space of awareness the morel you become receptive to the wisdom of your wholeness (or totality).

    You can also read this post on my blog with respect to developing harmonious relationship – letting go of a needy mindset in relationships

  • CA says:

    Sen, Hi. I have been reading up on the law of attraction a lot lately. I have met a perfect man, and someone I really love. Yet something happened 4 months into our relationship. He had nothing to do with it. His ex “messaged” me pretending to be someone else, and told me to go to a link. I did, and up popped a nice long webpage and picture of him. Telling the world how he’s a liar, cheater, and all this. It’s been 9 months since than, and every time I accuse him of cheating, I can’t find any evidence. He has let me search his phone, (without him even knowing I wanted to. I just asked him out of the blue), he has let me used his computer before when I forgot mine at home, and he had no idea I was going to need his, therefore, he had no time to delete anything. He also left to go bowling for a couple hours, therefore giving me plenty of time to search it. If he says he’s home, he’s home. If he says he’s with the kids, he’s with the kids. He has gotten so mad and irritated, and has almost left me a couple times because hes sick of the accusations. I guess I am afraid that, with my constant “thinking” he’s cheating on me, will the law of attraction cause that to happen? Or is that me going crazy again? I want to trust him so bad but I am worried that the L.O.A. may have already intervened and caused something in the past. Please help. Thanks!

  • SA says:

    To all the the people writing on this blog please buy this book and and see if it helps you in any way. It’s called “Stop Thinking Start Living”. It’s £5 from amazon. Try it, you have nothing to lose, read the reviews on amazon. It has near enough helped me from self destruction to getting my life back on track and starting to be a really productive person.

  • Tatianna says:

    The mind can do horrific things, it can cause physical and emotional problems. There is no amount of time that can be given to a person to say when the negativity can stop. It’s like saying when will war stop being a solution, or when will violence end. There is no deficient answer. But it can be controlled to the point where it stops taking over your life. I wrote here in April 2011 and now it’s November 2011, I can now say truthfully I have control. Meaning “Fear” isn’t all around me. I still have fear, but my mind isn’t going off 1000 thoughts per second literally paralyzing me. There is a lot more consciousness and reality from who I am vs “my” thoughts now. It’s not an easy task I’m still developing and growing each and everyday! What also helped for me was Belief. Truly believing in something. For me it was God, believing God knows me, and allowing Him to help me. To help me from what sometimes feels like a hellish monster (devil) that chooses when to creep in and out of my mind. It’s a combination of knowledge and faith. For everyone it’s different just find your potion mix. Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddah.

  • J says:

    I have the same problems as some people on here. I literally cannot stop thinking. Without even realizing sometimes if I’m not actively doing something, I suddenly snap out of this little dream and I don’t even know until it’s too late. Whether it’s my partner cheating – one thing can be said, then I run a situation through my head like it’s a movie or something. Or seeing awful images of monsters, or being killed, all sorts of terrible things. I feel as if my brain does this to me on purpose. Once I realize what I’ve been thinking about I then can’t stop.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    PD – The more you become “dependent” on someone the more that person is going to start feeling suffocated in your presence. The reason we become dependent on others emotionally is because we seek their approval, attention and affection. The only reason we seek attention externally is because we lack self-confidence or self-love. You are giving too much importance to people outside you and thus making yourself feel “inferior” in their comparison. You are being “needy”, seeking your girlfriend’s approval and affection. This causes her to feel suffocated in your presence.

    If you want to attract a positive reality, you will need to develop a huge amount of self-love. You will need to align with yourself, find yourself and accept/appreciate yourself as you are. Stop trying to fix the external reality and start working on fixing your inner space. Dissolve the negativity you feel towards yourself by bringing awareness to all the negative patterns in you. The only connection that’s important is your connection with yourself – if you are not happy with yourself you will never be able to attract a partner who is totally happy with you. So work towards aligning with yourself.

  • PD says:

    Hi, my situation is very similar to what you’ve all said. I’m continuously stuck in this vicious circle of negativity. There’s this girl who I’ve loved for 9-10 years. She had always been a great friend, but it was only around 3-4 years back that she felt something for me that way but still she’s always like she is not sure yet. Cause I am just not living out my life. I am always stuck in this world of negativity. I fear new challenges in life, always thinking I can’t do this and hating myself for that at the same time. I’ve started working in the last 6 months, and it’s a bit tough job, and all the new challenges it throws at me. I’m so worried about them that I don’t even give it a good try and all this brings in a new fear that she’ll reject me soon. And this is kind of beginning to take effect; there was a period of 4-5 months she was very close but recently, in the last 5 months, she’s not that close and doesn’t see this working out. All this has resulted in me hating myself and thinking I just don’t deserve her or any kind of happiness for that matter. I’ve tried so much but can’t take out these negative thoughts out of my mind!! Any help would be useful.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    DK – It can take a few months to an year for a stability to come in once you start bringing in awareness to your mind’s movement. The more you are rooted in staying as the relaxed awareness of the mind/brain’s movement, the more powerful/deep your awareness will get. As your awareness becomes more stable and deep, you will notice that you develop the power to stay detached from the mind’s movement whenever it gets negative.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    B – Your brain has developed a few patterns of negative thinking that have become chronic due to your unconscious attention to them. It’s important that you first understand that these thoughts are your brain’s creations and you can choose to let them “pass” without identifying with them. It’s a choice you can make consciously. The more you develop your power of conscious choice the more in control you will feel. Right now the power of your awareness is quite weak and hence you are taken in completely by each thought of the brain. Once you develop a stability in your awareness, you will be able to stay detached from the thoughts of the brain and find peace in the midst of the brain’s agitation.

  • B says:

    I constantly struggle with obsessive negative thoughts. Sometimes I feel I have no control over them. They just erupt in my brain and take me down. And I can’t even sleep. I constantly am scared about death, and it scares the crap out of me and then my heart starts to pound. Oh and then once that occurs, I think I will get an heart attack. I constantly worry about myself or loved ones passing away or developing an illness. And when I’m not worrying about that, I feel worthless or not good enough. Even if I am told I am loved I don’t tend to feel it. I am trapped in my mind constantly and I can’t get out. Not only do I worry and panic about the future but I worry about the past too. Any advice would be helpful.

  • Dk says:

    This is an excellent article. I have to start to do practice. I have suffered a lot since last eight months but now feeling relief. Thanks a lot. Can you tell me how much time it will take?

  • Atso says:

    Hi Sen, I think I am so different from other people. I have negative thoughts only when I am on work and I create them because I don’t do something correctly. So I am afraid that my supervisor will notice and complain about me. Even when things are not important I still create a picture in my mind like I see him approach me and ask me why I did that in other way. And about law of attraction that works opposite for me. If I am happy that I have money and I have easy life on work (I work on cruise ship) the next cruise I will not get tips or I will have a hard time at work, but if I complain to myself “oh I don’t have good tips” or it became so hard to work here the next cruise suddenly will change to better. Thanks, please tell me whats wrong with me.

  • Clive says:

    Sen, I have been trawling the net for answers to how to get rid of negative thoughts for a long time now. Some great articles have been written and I have put them into practice. Your articles are great simply put and to the point start practicing what Sen says people it’s not rocket science and it’s pure living. Nice one Sen.

  • Pete says:

    I love Byron Katie’s method of dealing with negative thoughts. Have been doing it for a few days now and it has helped me figure out my usual unconscious mind patterns.

  • alana says:

    Awesome article, easy to read. A couple of practical examples too, although I cringe a bit at Byron katie’s method. This questioning of one’s self is part of self doubt that has caused the uncertainty in the first place. It’s not as helpful as – if one is to converse with one’s self – saying “you’re upset? you feel agitated?” “yes I feel upset and agitated”. The road to resolution. Anyway thanks for writing this soothing article.

  • Sen says:

    Maggie – The bottom line is to be free of the pull of conditioned thinking. As you practice staying “aware” of your mind, you will be able to see through its patterns and you will not be caught up in an unconscious reaction to the thoughts.

    As your “presence power” increases the conditioned patterns of the mind start losing its hold over you and something far more intelligent and creative takes over – what’s called “unconditioned intelligence”. The whole transition is about letting go of the old mind and allowing yourself to be guided by the movement of life itself.

    When your “presence” is not strong enough its possible for you to get dragged into the “reactive” mind when you are surrounded by people who are in an “unconscious” state of being. The only solution is to keep enhancing your presence power.

    Presence (or pure consciousness) has a vibration of peace with an undercurrent of joy and love. It has the power to transform any negative conditioning within you. The brighter the light of your consciousness the harder it is for negative thoughts to have a grip over you. No-one can influence your vibration if you are stable in your presence.

    You can also read my writings at Calmdownmind.com which is my personal blog.

  • Maggie says:

    Hi Sen everything you have said has made a positive effect in me. I am only now trying to un-condition my mind from the constant negative frequency’s being thrown to it. I was hoping you could give me some ideas on how to influence others around me who are constantly in a conditioned state of mind, and who have been conditioned for so long that they believe that that is who they are, And if they are negative its because of everyone and everything that surrounds them. All help is appreciated.

  • Timothy says:

    I think the practice of mindfulness or being in the present moment is the best way to tackle negative thoughts.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    I’ve written quite a few articles, on this site, on the working of pure awareness, you can click on the author link on top of this article to view them. Our minds look at the world from the perspective of separation, but in reality everything is “one” and there is just the one being manifesting in different forms. Pure awareness watches the world from “true” eyes, it does not watch from separation, and hence it brings a new intelligence into how you live your life.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    Tatianna, it’s futile to try and “eliminate” the thoughts. It never works that way. The mind has a momentum of its own and the more you try to control it, the more momentum it gains. The secret is to go to the dimension that is beyond the mind, the dimension of pure awareness. You will allow the deeper intelligence to work more and more in your life as you stay as pure awareness, instead of being taken in by the mind’s story all the time. People for so long have never realized the power of pure awareness, but in truth this is the intelligence that has created worlds. In fact, you are this pure awareness, you are not what the mind tells you about you.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    Here’s a clue into the dimension of consciousness – ask yourself, what is it that’s “aware” of the thoughts? The mind will give you a dummy answer that it’s “me”, but the “me” is just an idea. In truth, pure consciousness is aware of all the thoughts that happen in the mind. This pure awareness is not judging things as right or wrong, it has a deeper intelligence that operates without discrimination. In essence, you are this pure awareness, you are not the mind. When you stay as this awareness the mind starts losing its hold on you. It will take some time but slowly the mind will no longer be able to dominate your experience.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    Terri, people have tried to fix their mind by taking medication or through some techniques or practices. They find that these only provide some temporary relief, if at all. The mind cannot be controlled or fixed, because the one fixing it is also the mind. It’s like the police and the terrorist are the same, so how can the terrorist be killed? The mind cannot fix the mind. Something other than the mind has to be brought in if you want to find freedom from it’s negative thinking. You have to become aware of a dimension deeper than the mind. The dimension of “pure consciousness”

  • Terri says:

    What you, Sen & Tatiana, have said has struck a chord in me. I live each and every day completely saturated with obsessive negative thoughts, mostly about how my husband is not trustworthy. Unfortunately, for both of us he has made some stupid choices in our past which reinforced some of the abuse traumas I suffered throughout my life. Bottom line now, I don’t trust what he says to me about specific topics and I find myself going round and round in circles until eventually whatever it is that I have been thinking becomes reality and truth. I don’t trust my own thoughts anymore. I don’t trust him. Moreover, I am completely miserable and becoming more so every day. I never thought about any kind of OCD or ADD until recently when I realized that I think the same things over and over again; I am certainly living an insane life!

    Terri

  • Tatianna says:

    Thank you Sen for some feedback, never thought of consciousness in that way, I am naturally a fighter, I’m slowly realizing how toxic my personality mixed with mindless thoughts can be. I’m not 100% on letting everything pass and how it can help eliminate but elimination is not the answer. I want an answer a cure but that may be the problem. I will try to read more on what you’ve said. Thank you!

  • Tatianna says:

    Thank you, sorry I posted up the same thing again by mistake. Thank you so much Sen for some lessons of the mind. I never looked at consciousness in that way. So instead of fighting it just basically allow it to flow through my mind and accept it. I’m not 100% on that concept. At work I think I have started doing this naturally, self talk is also helpful. Once I start allowing all thoughts to pass through, will they lessen and eventually go away? I’m going to learn this and absorb rather than fight, but it still seems like a cycle. Thanks again!

  • Sen(Author) says:

    Hi Tatianna, the domino effect is created by the law of attraction, in that negative thoughts attract more negative thoughts. So if you try to fix your negative thoughts, or try to push them away, what you are essentially doing is “reinforcing” them. Anything you resist will persist. Real transformation can only take place when you stop trying to “fix” your mind and allow it to “be” the way it is and just rest as the “pure” consciousness that just watches without judgment.

  • Sen(Author) says:

    True transformation can only come when you allow your “consciousness” to stay with the negative mind patterns, without any effort to escape or fix it in any way. The mind’s tendency is to push away the thoughts that feel bad, but in doing so you end up suppressing them, and they will recycle and come back again. Consciousness does not push anything away, it’s like unconditional love, it allows everything to be and it transforms everything that it’s allowed to touch. The healing is immediate, if you truly allow your “awareness” or consciousness to touch the patterns of insanity or negative thinking that come up. Allow your consciousness to embrace what arises, don’t use the mind to “fix” it.

  • Tatianna says:

    It makes so much sense, but why does it become so hard? In logical sense once the mind begins to behave in this manner, it’s like a domino affect and creates craters in the mind which are easy to fall into. So one has to teach the mind how to patch over them, but not really reversing it unless there is a way they can be permanently forgotten. Is this possible and how long would it realistically take? I’m 24 and been living in insanity for now officially 8 months. Maybe there’s a little truth or is that my broken mind talking like usual??? answers please:)