Negative thinking fuels self-doubt. You can either let negative thoughts steal your happiness or condition yourself emotionally to manage them when they charge into your mind. Use one of these nine strategies the next time negative thoughts pop into your mind.

  • Shift. Your. Focus – You’re going to have negative thoughts. But instead of fighting and resisting them (which only makes them bigger and stronger), or giving in to them, acknowledge their presence. 

Next, intentionally shift your focus away from the negative thought onto something positive, which can either be something for which you’re grateful or your preferred vision of how you see yourself and the situation. 

You might even have a quick conversation with your unwanted “negative friend” by saying, “I know that’s what you think about me and the situation, but I’m grateful for ______, and here’s the kind of life I’m creating.” And then ask the negative thought to kindly leave. 

So, for example, the negative thought that pops into your mind is, “I’m always going to be in debt!” Acknowledge its presence by saying something like, “I know why you think that way, but I am working hard and spending less, and I am becoming debt-free. It might take some time, but I am grateful for my debt-free life. Now, kindly leave.” 

When a negative thought pops into your mind, as it will, your choice is to either focus and dwell on it or focus and dwell on the vision of your preferred life and the inspired action(s) you’re taking to make it come true. Your focus creates your emotional reality. 

  • Realize that People Care Less About Your Mistakes Than You Do – You’re going to make mistakes and say or do something that embarrasses you, but guess what, people don’t care about it as much as you think they do. They forget about it long before you do. So, learn from it and move on. Better yet, laugh at it and yourself and move on. Most people are too busy thinking about their embarrassing moments to spend much time thinking about yours. 
  • Are You Overly Concerned with Your Image? We all take ourselves way too seriously. So what if you wore the wrong belt with your outfit or had to try two or three times to parallel park while cars waited for you to get out of their way, or your chair at work rolled back as you sat down, or you mangled a word or someone’s name? So what? Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? No! You’re not perfect! And neither is anyone else. So stop worrying so much about your image and start enjoying life more and more each day.   
  • Spring Clean Negativity From Your Life – Are there any negative relationships or situations in your life? Yes? Then it’s time to make some changes. Perhaps certain relationships have served their purpose, and it’s time to move forward. Or, if you can’t move on because the relationship or situation is a permanent part of your life, what can you do to heal and improve them? Can you alter your interaction or how much time you give? Whether it’s people, places, or things, it’s time to reduce or eliminate negativity and pessimism wherever you can. Start with yourself first because negative people tend to attract negative people. What improvements can you make within yourself to be a more positive person? Consider making new friends or trying new activities that align with who you’re becoming as a person.  
  • Are You Taking Decisions too Seriously? People who struggle with self-doubt usually have trouble making decisions, even the small ones, like what to wear or order from the menu, what to buy, or what to plan for date night. When making a decision, ask how important this will be in a month, a year, or ten years from now for help determining how much time you should spend on making the decision. If it isn’t important, take two seconds to order the grilled cheese sandwich (excuse me, “salad”) and get on with your life! If it is pretty serious, then maybe cancel your plans to elope to Vegas next week and spend a bit more time getting to know your “until death do us part” partner.  
  • Ask Someone You Trust – Find someone positive you trust who knows you and your situation and how you’re working to improve your life. It could be a friend, counselor, life coach – someone who is encouraging and supportive but who will also tell you the truth. Share your self-doubts and ask for their thoughts. Ask them if you’re overreacting or being too hard on yourself. Seek their opinion and advice.
  • Tell Yourself You’ll Think About it Later to Stop Thinking About It Now – Don’t let negative thoughts ruin the moment by stealing your peace and happiness. Tell yourself you’ll think about it later. Some people hold off dealing with negative thoughts until during their prayer and meditation time because they know they’ll neutralize them with gratitude and by envisioning the kind of life they desire and are creating. Tabling the negative thought for later helps keep you in the moment. Plus, you might forget about the negative thought altogether or come to realize that it wasn’t such a big deal after all. 
  • Physical Activity – Few things are as effective at clearing your mind of negative thinking as physical activity, whether going to the gym, a brisk walk, or washing the car. According to research, a single exercise session can chase away gloomy thoughts for up to 4-6 hours. Whenever negative thoughts start getting you down, get active for a guaranteed way to improve your outlook and to feel better.   
  • Take Action When You Feel Afraid – Negative thoughts can trigger panic and worry. Most people dwell on them, imagining the worst, which only makes things worst. Instead, list one or two things you can do right now to make things better and do them! Taking action puts you in charge of the situation and makes you feel empowered. Rise above fear and negativity by taking inspired action.   

You’re going to have negative thoughts. But having negative thoughts isn’t the problem. It’s what you choose to do with them that creates problems or solutions. You’re not at the mercy of your negative thoughts because you’re in charge of your mind. So the next time a negative thought pops into your head, condition yourself emotionally to manage it by trying one of these nine strategies to break the pattern of self-doubt and unlock your best life!  

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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