What do you do when negative thoughts are popping in your head ? It doesn’t make you more productive or maintain your positive energy. Overcome negativity and change to a more optimistic vibe in these pragmatic ways.

photocredits by marieke verdenius

The last couple of days I’ve been haunted by these little annoying monkey voices sitting on my shoulder. Voices that whisper to me “what if this whole idea is ridiculous?” “It is ridiculous” “It is nothing” “Who wants to listen to you?” It is anything but a nice voice to listen to. I kinda want to ignore it up till my partner actually said to me I should start listening to it. “Practice as you preach” he added.

So how can you turn these thoughts into propelling, more positive thoughts? 

For example by talking to yourself in much the same way as how your best friend would talk to you when you are doubtful. Another thing that helps is shifting the focus on positive things that you already feel good about. Like your family, a nice walk or a chat with one of your friends. Or say out loud how nice the weather is today or how much you love your bike ride to work. Saying out loud makes it more of a conscious effort. It relieves that way.

So there are multiple ways to overcome negative thoughts and patterns. 

I’ve summed up a few that work for most people and are my favourite as well. There are many more to mention but what these 5 steps have in common is that they lean towards a pragmatic approach. Something that is easy to apply. Practice them. Add them to your daily routine. It could become an every day thing, almost effortless.

Step 1 : Establish New Habits instead of “overcoming” negative thoughts

Rather than thinking of it in terms of “overcoming” negative thought patterns, think of it in terms of establishing new habits

You do that by shifting your attention to subjects where there’s nothing to “overcome”: subjects that you already feel good about, and therefore think positively about. That could be your partner, your painted nails, walking outside, an exciting new project, the river. Start with something easy in the beginning.

Consciously reach for better feelings, make a conscious effort to find things you love, like and appreciate. Make it a habit by consciously practicing it every day.

Step 2: Give yourself 10 min every day to think negative

A paradoxical strategy to gain control over negative thinking is to commit to 10 minutes a day ruminating and reviewing them over and over again. Researchers suggest to set a fixed time, like 10 minutes and set for every day. When you have a negative thought during the day, write it down, and tell yourself that you’ll review them during your 10 min negative talk. Over time, you will gain much more control and negative thinking will stop.

Step 3 : Stop watching the morning news

Research has shown just three minutes of negative news in the morning will significantly increase your chances of a negative experience over the course of the day. Research has also shown that positive mindset increases productivity and satisfaction while reducing errors rates. Mindset is a choice, but not always an easy one. Look to eliminate negative external influences and stop watching the news will make setting your right mindset a lot easier.

Step 4  : Write instead of think

Write down why the negative thoughts are present. Writing versus thinking helps pushing the thought out, and when you can see the words on paper or a screen it is easier to make sense of it and move forward. And let go. (pssst: Why do you think I started writing?!)

Last but not least..

Step 5: Get out of your head ( and bed!)

And get more into your body. Move more, feel more and go for a walk, follow an (online) yoga class, go for a swim or whatever it is you like! A few minutes of conscious breath work or any kind of body movement will disrupt your thought patterns. Do something you like, so it is easier to get off your couch.

Just a drop of optimism I like to share with you. For more please visit “the Optimist’s Corner” or follow my instagram