6 Tips to Eliminate Negative Thoughts (Backed by Research)

“The more you feed your mind with positive thoughts, the more you can attract great things into your life.”

 These six tips will help you overcome feeling negative (or at least improve your mood a bit).

1. Understand the truth about fear

Realize that fear is often imaginary, and that you`ll probably do better if you take action than if you do nothing and let negative thoughts control you.

I recently read about a 20-year study saying that 85 percent of what people fear never happens and that their response to the other 10 percent is usually far better than they think.

 2. Negative thinking (done in moderation) can be good for you

They say, “Proper preparation prevents piss-poor performances.”

About 30 years ago, Andrew Grove, the former CEO of Intel documented the fact that expecting the worst can in many times be a great business idea in his bestseller Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company.

Grove said that the most successful among all the CEOs he had worked with were those who prepared for every negative outcome around the corner while still taking calculated risks.

One of the techniques that companies use today before launching new products is one that ancient stoics used thousands of years ago.

Because traveling wasn`t as easy or safe as it is today, an old stoic would spend a great amount of time preparing for every negative outcome that may happen; unexpected storms, drought, piracy, captivity…etc, and because it worked pretty well, they decided it to name it ‘Pre-moretm’.

Today, and before every product launch, project managers meet to discuss one simple question which is “what if this product was a complete failure.”

Understand that survival is your brain`s first, and most important, mission and that negative thoughts are its way of protecting you from all dangers. Your job is to listen to the rational among these thoughts and take action despite the irrational ones.

3. Use lots of affirmations

Read any of Napoleon Hill`s work and you`ll know that he had a huge respect for affirmations. And from my humble experience, if a man who interviewed some of the wealthiest men of his age says affirmations are good, then they`re probably are.

Affirmations work because they give your mind something to focus on instead of filling it with the unwanted negative. You should also understand that though saying “I`m rich” a thousand time a day won`t make you an overnight success, repeating any affirmation over and over literally pushes you to take action.

I use affirmations a lot, and I swear by it. Every month I create one affirmation for each of my goals and I keep repeating it over and over in the shower, kitchen, or car. I also use these affirmations anytime I feel lazy or disappointed and I usually, within minutes, get back to work with excitement and tenacity.

4. Journal your thoughts

Thoughts come and go so quickly that you may not know what made you feel bad about a certain thing. The solution?

Write down whatever bothers you. Experts call this journaling or expressive writing and it`s a great tool for managing negativity. One study by Michigan University found that students tend to perform much better if they journal about their worries before a tough exam.

Another study on 1,300 returning U.S. veterans found that four weekly sessions of journaling for six consecutive weeks were great for helping them cope with post-war traumas.

Another thing that can make journaling even more effective is to use the famous patterns of Cognitive Behavior Therapy to analyze your dysfunctional negative thinking. These patterns are:

  • All-or-nothing
  • Catastrophizing
  •  Discounting the positive outcome:
  • Thinking something is true cause you feel it’s true (Aka. Emotional reasoning)
  • Labeling things or yourself (Ex: I am a loser)
  • Overgeneralization (Ex: Everybody hates me)
  • Personalization: Thinking others are behaving negatively because of you
  • Using imperatives: Tying yourself with so many rules by using so many should and musts

5. Always expect to win (Even if you know that no on one wins every time)

Most people don`t think positive because they fear to be disappointed. However, the truth is, expecting to win increases your chances to win far more than expecting to lose.

 I was reading Michael Jordan`s biography by Roland Lazenby and his winning philosophy was so simple but mind-changing. Jordan believed that to score most of his shots, he must expect every single shot to hit the ring.

He knew that no team wins every game and no player scores every shot, but those who win consistently —the Jordans of life— are those who are always in it to win it. Every single time. If you begin to think this way, you will feel extremely positive, and will become a Jordan in whatever you do.

6. Get enough sleep

I know this may seem off point but the truth is, good sleep is underestimated by many people. I was listening to LeBron James talking to Tim Ferris about his routine and he –James- mentioned more than once that it’s all about good sleep and proper recovery.

  Sleep deprivation can rub off on your memory and mood (not mentioning your immune system, sex drive, and blood pressure). So, feeling negative and down may be just a result of your bad sleeping habits.