You can dismiss those negative thoughts, which infiltrate your mind and replace them with a more positive and beneficial mindset.

Negative thoughts have a habit of appearing at the wrong time and hanging around like a black cloud. Often the harder you try and push the negativity away, the stronger it returns and so it helps having a consistent routine or trigger on hand to replace it with a positive mindset.

Here are five ways to get rid of negative thoughts from thought suppression expert, Daniel Wegner, courtesy of the excellent Psyblog. Different techniques work for different people so its often trial and error to find the one that works for you.

1. Focused distraction

The natural tendency when trying to get your mind off something is to try and distract yourself by thinking about something. The theory goes that the mind wanders around looking for new things to focus on, hopefully leaving you in peace.  Distraction does work but studies suggest it is better to distract yourself with one thing and concentrate on things you know are positive to you, a person or a place or a favourite movie or sporting team.

2.  Postpone the thought until later

While continuously trying to suppress a thought often makes it come back stronger, postponing it until later can work and this is the technique that works best for me.  When you have anxious and negative thoughts agree (with yourself) to “park” them until a designated 30-minute ‘worry period’ in the future. By doing this you may be able to clear your mind until later. By then you are better prepared for the negativity.

3.  Self-affirmation – the little man on your shoulder

Self-affirmation involves thinking about your positive traits and beliefs which help you get rid of negative thoughts, and over time, increase your social confidence and self control. This little man or woman on your shoulder helps you banish negativity and replace it with positive thoughts of self-affirmation.

4.  Focus head on the negative thoughts

Another useful technique is to head straight for the negativity and concentrate on it.  It seems paradoxical that focusing in on a negative thought might help it go away, but some research based on the long-established principle of ‘exposure therapy’ suggests it can work. It seems to me that this is an attempt to ‘outwit’ the anxiety and negativity and bully it to go away.

5.  Accept the negativity

Along similar lines, but not as direct as the focus approach, there is some evidence that trying to accept unwanted thoughts rather than doing battle with them can be beneficial.

Good luck with experimenting with these suggested approaches and hopefully you can banish those unwanted and negative thoughts today.

Paul Lyons is an experienced chief executive and mental toughness professional and you can reach him via or via his website

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from AQR and our partners at the end of every month.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This