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How to Overcome Negative Thoughts

Overcoming Negative Thoughts

Most people struggle with overthinking, negative thoughts, and worrying from time to time. For some, these habitual thought patterns can feel intrusive and take on a life of their own, causing them to feel anxious, pessimistic, and depressed.

While it might not be possible to eliminate negative thinking entirely, it’s important to remember that you can gain control over your thoughts and in turn, manage your emotions and feelings by practicing mindfulness and helpful thinking habits.

Acknowledge Your Thought Patterns

The first step in the process of gaining command over your thoughts is to recognize it when it starts to happen. Take a deep breath and notice what you are doing without applying judgment. This is a form of mindfulness that brings you back to the present moment, where you can be less reactive and think more objectively.

Here Are 6 Examples of Common Unhelpful, Negative Thinking Habits:


  • This is one of the ways people can work themselves into a depressive or anxious downward spiral. Dampening is an unconscious self-regulation strategy that people use to decrease the intensity of joyful and happy states, and shift into a dull mood out of comfort and familiarity.

  • Examples: A recurring pattern of getting sick or injured right before or after something really good happens. Picking fights or causing drama in a relationship when things are going well.


  • This is also known as a hangup and involves focusing on the past and struggling with feelings of regret, judgment, and self-doubt.

  • Example: Preoccupation with a past event or relationship, or replaying a conversation over and over in your head and not being able to move on.

Future thinking:

  • This is a pattern of focusing on the future as a way to control how you’re going to feel by projecting yourself into an imagined reality that hasn’t happened yet.

  • Example: Imagining how sad you’re going to be when something upsetting happens in the future and getting worked up over it, even though it might not even happen at all.

Comparative thinking:

  • Comparative thinking can compress your perspective and makes you focus on lack by engaging in scarcity thinking.

  • Example: Comparing yourself to other people on social media and feeling as though you are not good enough, are constantly failing, and not measuring up.

Black and white thinking and generalizations:

  • This type of distorted thinking makes you think in extremes, causing you to make all or nothing generalizations about yourself, other people, and your life.

  • Example: “Things are always easy for other people but they never work out for me.”

Catastrophic thinking:

  • This pattern is related to future thinking and involves worrying about the worst possible outcome of any situation, which in turn, generates feelings of fear and anxiety.

  • Examples: Obsessively worrying about being fired from your job, becoming homeless, and freezing to death when there is no evidence that this will happen. Thinking about how your plane will probably crash while you are getting ready to go on a trip, you become panicked and consider canceling your trip.

Taking Command Of Your Thoughts Through Mindfulness

9 Ways to Overcome Negative Thinking