How to Stop Negative Thoughts

4 Powerful Steps to Stop Negative Thinking and Self Talk

Have you ever felt like your brain resembles that scene in Mean Girls where the entire school starts fighting over the Burn Book, but somehow you are both the victim and Regina George?

It can feel impossible to stop negative thinking, but you can learn how to stop the doom spiral happen in your brain.

The first step is to pay attention to your thoughts and recognize when your thinking is really negative. Then, instead of judging your thoughts just notice them and observe them without reacting. Next, gently correct those thoughts by choosing the opposite, positive thought. Finally, make choosing positive thoughts a daily habit with affirmations.

Lets go into greater detail on how to stop the cycle of negative thinking and self talk, and finally silence your inner critic! It’s not difficult, but it takes regular practice and some time.

How to Stop Negative Thinking

1. Recognize Negative Thoughts & Patterns

First, start to pay attention to your thoughts. You might catch them in the moment, but when you’re just starting you may be too swept up in them to notice. Meditation is a great way to start tuning into your mind (there are lots of great meditation apps to start with like Calm and Headspace).

You can also try taking time at your lunch break or before bed to reflect on the day by journaling or just sitting quietly and reflecting.

When during the day did you feel low? What thoughts or interactions caused that feeling? Are there any negative thinking patterns you see? If so, write them down and we’ll address them later.

How to Stop Negative Thinking
How to silence your inner critic

2. Don’t Judge Your Thoughts

Once you notice that you’ve been thinking poorly of yourself try not to judge. Accept them as part of being human (we ALL do this) and just make a commitment to change them. Beating yourself up will just get you more stuck in those thought patterns.

Be gentle and patient with yourself, you are doing the best you can with the tools you have. Most of us are not taught to think kindly of ourselves, it’s a skill we have to learn later in life.

In fact society literally profits off our insecurities. How many times a day are we told through advertising, influencers, and other media that we need to buy this or that product to meet an artificial and impossible standard of beauty? If we were taught to be happy as we are the fashion, beauty, and plastic surgery industries would be a whole lot poorer.

Related: Learn more about why we have limiting beliefs.

3. Turn Negative Thoughts into Positive Thoughts

When you catch those pesky negative thoughts immediately tell yourself a opposite statement.

“I failed,” becomes “I did the best I could in the moment and now get to learn from this experience and do better in the future.

“This didn’t happen for me because I’m not worthy,” becomes “It wasn’t the right thing or time for me, something better will come along. I am worthy and I deserve the best.

Do this for each negative thought you catch as soon as you notice it, whatever it is. It can help to write down some of your regular negative thoughts and the positive rebuttals ahead of time, so you have your tools ready to pull out when needed.

Learning to change your limiting beliefs can be difficult, this free worksheet can help get you started.

limiting beliefs free pdf printable

4. Repeat Positive Thoughts and Affirmations Daily

So now that you’ve identified your own negative thought patterns, I want you to write down a list of positive thoughts that you are going to tell yourself every single day.

Telling yourself a positive thought once won’t stop negative thinking forever. You have to do it consistently every day. Pick 5-10 affirmations and write them down every morning or night, and/or repeat them while meditating, working out, or falling asleep.

Write some down on post-it notes and put them on your mirror.

100 Powerful Affirmations that Will Change Your Life

I started using this method around November 2018 and it took a few months before I noticed how much my self talk had changed. Around Spring 2019 I started to be willing to try things I believed I couldn’t do before (like start this blog). It was really amazing to see that change in myself.

When something feels challenging, like doing one more lap in the pool when I’m tired, I tell myself “this is actually easy” and that gives me the strength to finish my set. More often than not when I feel tired, or unmotivated, or stuck, I realize that’s just a story I’m telling myself. I have to make a conscious decision to tell myself empowering thoughts instead, and then I can go do what I need to do.

Related: Learn how to achieve your goals by changing your environment.

I hope these tips help you stop negative thinking, silence your inner critic, and think more positively about yourself! If you apply them with consistency I promise you will start to see a difference in your life!

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  1. As I have gotten older in my world of adulting. I’m more in tune with positivity and how it is so important to maintain this. This includes the people you are around.
    Thank You for this post.

  2. This article was exactly what my spirit needed today! I’m working on being more in-tune with my thoughts and correcting negative self talk. I’ll be implementing a lot of your tips especially writing down a few positive affirmations to repeat daily. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Very inspirational post. Changing my negative thinking into positive thoughts has been a big struggle for me, and still is, but when I do it right it changes so, so much! It’s amazing what a change in your thinking patterns can do.
    I have to admit I am awful at judging myself and my negative thoughts, but it’s a learning curve and Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  4. Great message, and one that so many people need to hear! Negative thinking is a major problem in our society today, one that SO many of us struggle to navigate.

  5. Thank you so much for this post! I really needed to hear it because it’s sometimes so hard to turn off those negative thoughts. I call it “Fat Brain” because it’s that part of me that always tells me I’m not good enough. I need to tell “Fat Brain” to shut up more often. Thanks again for the great tips!

  6. I have been practicing positive thinking for years, but I’ve found that as new life challenges come up, it becomes difficult to maintain this mindset. Of course, it’s always easy to think this way when things are going great, but the real rewards come when you can overcome negativity during unexpected challenges. It’s easy, but it definitely takes daily practice. Great post!

  7. Fantastic post! The piece of advice that is most relevant to me is “Don’t Judge your Thoughts”. I’m still working on mastering this skill but once I started to accept my thoughts and work through them (instead of avoiding them), I noticed those negatives thoughts started creeping in a little less and less.

    1. That’s exactly what happens. When you start to accept them without judgement and flip them into something positive things start to change. It starts to break the cycle of negativity.

    1. It’s easy to beat ourselves up. It’s easy to nitpick things we don’t like about our lives and ourselves.

      But yes, negative self talk is even worst than criticism from others. And really all of this is about perspective. We have learn how to see things better. Give it a different meaning.