Are you an over thinker? Do you spend a lot of time stuck in your thoughts? Most of us spend a lot of time inside our minds. We spend time worrying about our past, present, and future. We are thinking about what the future holds, replaying past events, and focusing on aspects of our lives that is dissatisfying.
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Negative thoughts are very common, and we all experience them from time to time as we go through many life experiences. Even though very common, negative thoughts tend to distract us from enjoying life experiences and enjoying things that are important to us. Not only that, they drain our energy and make us feel anxious and depressed.
What is negative thinking?
Simply put, it involves negative thinking patterns that a person has about themselves and their surroundings. Their thoughts are “cognitions about the self, others, or the world in general that are characterized by negative perceptions, expectations, and attributions, and are associated with unpleasant emotions and adverse behavioral, physiological, and health outcomes.”
With this in mind, negative thinking is a mental attitude of anticipating the worst outcome on situations and events. The human mind is so powerful that it can generate thoughts far beyond our understanding. Our thoughts, feelings, and actions are so closely related that when our mind produces either negative or positive thoughts, it sends signals to our emotions, indicating to us how we should feel. Good thoughts bring about positive feelings, while negative feelings develop from negative thoughts.
Examples of Negative thoughts
Negative thoughts can arise from fear about the future, anxiety about the past, or shame about past events. It can also come from other things such as the common cold, headaches, stress, or even lack of sleep. These things can cause you to start to overthink to the point where you become frustrated or even depressed. Have you ever experienced this? Our feelings reflect what we are thinking, and when we experience negative thoughts, it can send us down a spiral if we are not careful. What are some negative thoughts that start to creep into your mind?
Here are some examples:
- “ There isn’t enough time.”
- “Life move so fast, I feel like I cannot keep up.”
- “I have so much to do; I feel like I am losing control.”
- “I am not good enough.”
- “At this point in my life, I should have it all together by now.” –success, rich, married, attractive
- “I should be more like this person.”
- “People are the worst. The world is brutal and uncaring.”
- “I am a failure. I didn’t achieve x.”
- “ I am taking too long to accomplish this goal; what is wrong with me?”
- “What’s the point anymore? I feel stuck, and I am not going anywhere.”
- “No one cares. I am alone.”
- “My family is thoughtless and inconsiderable.”
Any of these sound familiar? Can you relate to any? I know I can.
The impact of negative thoughts on your mental and physical health
Negative thoughts are not in itself a medical term, but research has shown that the habit of negative thinking can have a profound impact on your overall well-being. Negative thoughts primarily focus on bringing up the past, dwelling on bad experiences, or worrying about the future. Your thoughts and emotions go hand in hand, and when you experience constant negative thoughts, your mental and physical, and cognitive health becomes exhausted:
- Feelings of anxiety and/or depression
- Isolating or withdrawing from others
- Frequent changes in mood
- Feelings of helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Frequent feelings of hurt and anger
- Difficulty focusing and/or concentrating
- Some memory problems
- Difficult making sound decisions
- Possible early onset for Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease
- Lowered immune system
- Sleep deprivation
- Loss of appetite
- Hormone imbalance
- Depletion of brain chemical required for happiness
- High blood pressure
- Digestive disorders (GERD, ulcers, stomach pain)
- Cardiovascular disease
Breaking down negative thoughts
Negative thoughts predominantly stem from the fear of the unknown or fear of the inability to cope. “Negative thoughts also sometimes make you believe things will never change, that you are destined for misery for the rest of your life.” But have you ever stopped and pondered on whether these thoughts you are experiencing are factual?
“I am not good enough” – Is this really an accurate statement?
“I should be well accomplished already” – By whose standards?
When negative thoughts arise, it is essential to take a step back and assess where these thoughts are coming from. Did a negative event occur recently? Are you anticipating something that is to come? Are they stemming from limiting beliefs?
To understand and determine if our negative thoughts are true, we need to gather all the facts – are these thoughts emotionally driven, or are they developing from opinion? Thoughts are thoughts, whether they are good or bad – they are “mutual events that pop up in the mind that correlates to our mood.” So are your thoughts facts, or are they merely opinions? Really think about it and challenge your negative thoughts by gathering all the facts first.
Combating negative thoughts
By nature, I am an overthinker and an over-analyzer (I think way too much!). At times, my thoughts get the best of me, especially when I become overly stressed or experiencing burnout. When it becomes too much, my body and mind send me signals that I need to pause, slow down, and re-center myself. When your negative thoughts become too much, your body and mind will send your signals that it is time to listen to what is going on within yourself:
1. Be conscious of your thoughts
Develop a sense of self-awareness in which you become aware of your traits, behaviors, and feelings. Self-awareness allows you to become more intuned to reading and understanding your emotions and how your thoughts play a powerful role in how you feel. Be conscious of your negative thoughts when they arise; you will recognize the impact these thoughts will have on how you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Use this guide to help you quiet your thoughts and calm your mind and body. Click here
2. Embrace your feelings
No one likes to feel unpleasant emotions. Where’s the fun in that, right?
Take time to acknowledge and focus on how you are feeling. If you are sad, feel the sadness. It is okay. Allow yourself to feel while telling yourself that whatever you are feeling will pass.
3. Avoid triggers
As much as you can, minimize your exposure to situations and people that bring about negativity and trigger negative thoughts. Being in a negative environment all the time will only enhance your negative thoughts, thus leading to negative emotions. Protect your energy, set boundaries, and surround yourself with positivity and with people who want to see you grow.
4. Practice positive coping affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that challenge you to overcome negative thoughts. Release those negative thoughts while focusing on these positive affirmations:
- I feel my negative thoughts melting away
- I let go of all negativity
- These thoughts do not serve me – I release myself from them
- I am letting go of fear, guilt, and shame
- I am filled with energy and joy
- My body is healthy; my mind is beautiful, my soul is at peace
- I have the qualities to be great and strong
Believe, repeat and embrace positivity.
5. Release judgment
We can often be our worst critic – judging ourselves by saying we are not good enough, we don’t have what others have, or that our lives as a whole is not satisfying. Release this kind of judgment you have over yourself so that you can begin to feel more at ease. Look for positive qualities within yourself when thoughts arise.
6. Focus on your strengths
No one is perfect, but we all have strengths. As humans, we tend to dwell more on the negative than the positive. Start focusing more on your strengths, and you will see how easier it will be to feel positive about yourself. Think about strengths and what you like about yourself.
Start your self-discovery journey here.
7. Seek help – It’s allowed and it shows strength
Despite your best efforts, you may still find it challenging to handle your negative thoughts. If you are unable to manage your thoughts, and you notice they are becoming more intrusive along with interfering in your ability to carry out your daily activities, then it may be time to talk to a mental health professional.
In your low moments, remember:
- You are not perfect, and that is okay! No one is perfect
- You will not always be in control – that’s totally okay too!
- Feelings won’t last – they will start to fade
I love this post. Excellent points and tips. Negative thoughts can have such a huge impact on how you function in everyday life. And it’s not always as simple as telling yourself to stop thinking that way. I myself really have to work on releasing judgment because I’m the harshest on myself. And it has sabotaged my growth a lot. I’m slowly starting to come out of self-judgment. There are a couple of others I’ll be taking away from this post to work on. Thank you so much for sharing.
Tammy I am so happy you found this post helpful to you! releasing judgment is not at easy as it seems at times. But slow and steady wins the race. Thanks for the feedback!
Really helpful post. I like how detailed your post always is with really helpful tips and relatable topics.
Thanks so much Anita for the feedback. I am happy you enjoyed it!
We shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. It is tempting to dwell on worries and negative thoughts, but we should focus on positive thoughts and hopes and send those out into the universe instead.
I agree with you! Sometimes it is a lot easier said than done, but practice and making a conscious effort to live each day with positivity and gratitude, will help to put our mind at ease from negative thoughts.
what a great post – you are so right, it always starts with acknowledging and accepting your feelings!
Thanks so much for your feedback Sophia. Yup, it always starts from within!
Yes, agree with we are not always in control!
Indeed we are not! thanks for the feedback!
Love this post! As a fellow overthinker, I can understood majority of what you wrote about. Really liked the tips you left especially embrace your feelings and avoiding triggers. Those ones has definitely helped me with combating overthinking, also doing things I enjoy to take my mind of everything. Great post as usual! 😊
Anissa, thanks so much for your feedback! So happy you enjoyed this post and found it helpful!
Great post Rebekah, this is such an important topic! I wrote a 2 post series on a similar topic – limiting beliefs – about a month ago! I think it’s important help people become aware of their limiting beliefs so they can break the cycle as you said here.
Thanks so much for your feedback, Clarissa. I always look forward to them. Limiting beliefs can be so deadly if we are not careful! It can hold us back from experiencing so many great things that life has to offer!
This is a fantastic post, I’m a serious overthinker to to read this and be able to rationalize how I’m feeling and that it’s okay is awesome, thank you so much for sharing
Same here Jessica, same here! I personally think way too much! Sometimes it keeps me up at night. But guess what, it happens to everyone from time to time, and that does not necessarily indicate that something is wrong with us. No one is perfect, and that is more than okay. Thanks so your feedback.
My depression makes me a nihilist, so no matter what I try to do to combat my negative thoughts nothing ever changes. I guess because I’ve had these thoughts since I was in my first year of primary school, they’re highly resistant
Thank so much for your feedback, I can certainly agree with you that combating negative thoughts can be very difficult for someone who has struggled with it for years especially if there may is an underlying mental health condition. It’s certainly not easy, but taking the steps to get help, can go a long way.
Overthinking is something I struggle with, especially in my early twenties.. but I realized how it’s important to be mindful and to cultivate self-awareness. Things aren’t so bad as my mind makes them up to be! Sometimes it really just takes a conscious effort to acknowledge and accept the things I have no control over, and speak kindly to my mind. Thank you so much for sharing with us!
Anna Jo | http://www.helloannajo.com
I certainly agree with your Anna. Having a sense of self-awareness and acceptance is very important when it comes to combating negative thoughts. Thoughts are thoughts, and if we keep that at the forefront while making a conscious effort in understanding that we can only control things from our end, it will help. Thanks so much for your feedback!
A very helpful post! Thank you so much for sharing Rebekah! x Penny / whatdidshetype.blogspot.com
Thanks so much, Penny for your feedback. I am happy you enjoyed it!
This is a really helpful post and your elaborate write-up deals with almost everything I needed to read about today. Thanks for sharing! Keep writing ❤️
You are more than welcome! I am so happy that this article was helpful to you today. Remember that you are strength!
This is such a wonderful post! I think self awareness is key to being able to combat negative thoughts. We can’t stop them if we don’t realize we’re having them. I love that you talk about self judgement as well. We really are our own worst critic. Sometimes I am amazed at how harshly I judge myself. I would never judge another the way I do myself.
Thank you for sharing this! It is very empowering!
Thanks so much for your feedback! I couldn’t agree with you more. We judge ourselves way too hard. I don’t know why we do it, but it is something in his that leads us to do so. So happy you enjoyed this article!
Excellent article! Avoiding triggers is so tough but it can be done.
Thanks so much for this feedback! So happy you enjoyed it. Our triggers can really open up that door for negative thoughts, we just have to because and maintain a level of self-awareness at all times.
Very informative. Honestly, sometimes it happened to me but I try not to dwell on it and try to get rid of it. Thank you for sharing this way. Sometimes asking for help can break you from the circle.
Fransic, thanks to much for your feedback. I am truly happy that you enjoy this post. Sometimes our thoughts really get the best of us, especially depending on what we are currently experiencing. Asking for help truly can go a long way. It shows power and courage.
I really needed to read this today! Especially Focus On Your Strengths! Powerful words and advice. Thank you for sharing!
Amanda, you are more than welcome! I am so happy that I was able to bring inspiration and motivation to you. You are strong!
This is such a helpful post! I overthink a lot and at one point it was really affecting my life. I struggled to make decisions because I constantly thought about the negative outcomes! I love your tips for trying to combat it, especially the positive affirmations and releasing judgement!
Nicci believe me when I say, I know exactly how you feel! My thoughts often get the best of me from time to time. I am happy you found the tips to helpful to you. Just take it one step at a time.
Wonderfully inspiring post! So many of the common fears are relatable, and I love the advice for overcoming them. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for your feedback. I am happy you enjoyed and found this post helpful!
I love this post . You made some really good points. I am a over thinker myself , and when my thoughts turn negative it can get bad pretty quick. The main thing that gets me is that feeling of “ I should be way further right now .” That mindset really made me take things for granted . I’m working on living in the now and practicing gratitude. This was the push I needed ! Love this post !
Arteria, thank so much for the feedback! I can certainly relate because I feel like this from time to time. That I should be further along in life. But these negative thoughts doesn’t serve and causes me to feel sad. It’s work in progress but practicing gratitude, really helps to change one’s mind set and allow room for growth.
I love this! I work in a psych hospital and was just going through this with one of my patients yesterday. It’s super important!
Thanks so much for your feedback! I am happy you enjoyed!
Beautiful post, I enjoyed how detailed it is. Negatives thoughts are never far, this will help you balance things out.
Thanks so much for your feedback! You are absolutely right! Negative thoughts are always there but learning how to channel and balance them will help to keep you grounded.
Changing your thoughts is truly one of the best ways to completely change your life ! Positive thinking has transformed me so much & I’m always grateful ! Amazing post.
Thanks so much for your feedback. I am happy you enjoyed and found this post helpful!
I struggle daily with negative thoughts. I try to change my wording when I catch myself, but it’s definitely a work in progress. I love the idea of practicing positive affirmations! These are all good tips and I love how informative your posts always are!
Thanks so much Deandra! I am happy you enjoyed! It is indeed a work in progress but our strength grows as we push through.
Great post, Rebekah! Something I really struggle with is time. I always feel like there’s not enough time and it’s affected me so negatively. I’ve been trying really hard to be more forgiving to myself. Thanks for sharing this post! x
Trust me Lynn you are not the only one, so there is no need to beat yourself up about it. We are all humans some times there are things that are difficult for us to manage. Don’t be your worst critic, take it one step at a time.
Thanks for sharing this post! Sometimes accepting that negative thoughts have to exist really helps with dealing with them. Fighting natural things can create more suffering, so just let it run its course and ask for help when you need it. Keep it up!
Jenny thanks so much for your feedback. This is such a great point! Negative thoughts will always exist. Unfortunately, we cannot control the thoughts (whether good or bad) that pops into our minds. What’s important is what we do after a thought comes into our minds.
This is such a helpful post in improving your health and well-being and this is something I am focusing on this year. Thank you for your great suggestions and information.
Lauren thanks so much for your feedback and I am happy you found this post helpful. I’m also working on this as well because my thoughts tend to get the best of me sometimes, but I am getting better. Happy you found the suggestions and tips helpful.
This is great! I love that you point out the physical toll that a negative outlook can take, so many people overlook that aspect and it’s so important!
Ian thanks so much for your feedback and I am happy you enjoyed it! Our body and mind are so powerful that it sends us signals when we are doing much and when something is wrong!