Tricks to stop negative thinking

Photo by Ludde Lorentz on Unsplash
  1. Even noticing that you tend to HAVE negative, spinning thoughts can be a game-changer. It does NOT have to be like this, and those spinning, cycling thoughts — guess what — they are not YOU. So first, just catch yourself when you’ve gone deep into the spiral, off the cliff, whatever you wanna call it. Just notice it.
  2. Get moving. Negative thoughts exist in our mind, and I find there is nothing better for knocking them off course then getting up and flailing around in my body. Have a go-to dance song to turn on. Walk outside for a 10-minute stroll. Do 15 jumping jacks.
  3. Adapt the 5–4–3–2–1 grounding technique for anxiety. Again, the trick is to return to the present, to your body, to the moment, and get out of the whirling that’s going on in and above your head. This technique asks you to name 5 things you can SEE; 4 things you can FEEL; 3 sounds you can HEAR; 2 things you can SMELL; and 1 thing you can taste. I shorten this — I look for one color I can name, one word I can read, one thing I can feel on my skin, and one thing I can smell.
  4. Try out some grounding meditations. If you are somebody who tends towards negative ruminations, you are likely also somebody who spends a lot of time in their mind. When I realized there were people who were NOT constantly thinking things and building worlds all day in their mind, but living quite simply in the present and in their bodies, I was flabbergasted. These people are what’s called “grounded” — they’re not spacey, over-thinking, totally in their minds. And there are a lot of meditations that can help you get there, too, that work to connect your body to the earth. I have one here that’s about four minutes you can try.
  5. Try to turn the negative fantasy into a positive reality. Negative thinking is really just actually fantasizing about the worst. Now, you don’t have to fantasize about the best (though frankly, why not?) but you can turn the negatives into a totally reasonable positive. Ask yourself: What is a reasonable positive outcome here? Then, work to envision that in your mind when you catch yourself thinking in a negative thought pattern. It will feel weird to envision a positive outcome; just work through the discomfort and try it anyways. It’s like a muscle you can practice strengthening.
  6. If your negative ruminations tend to take the bent of beating yourself up, you may have a stronger inner critic. The book Soul Without Shame was a breakthrough for me to stand up to that inner critic and dismantle it.




Teaching awakening + healing through vulnerability + self-compassion. Finding hope in a messy world. Author of the Sunday Soother.

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Catherine Andrews

Catherine Andrews

Teaching awakening + healing through vulnerability + self-compassion. Finding hope in a messy world. Author of the Sunday Soother.

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