How to deal with Negative Thinking

    Negative Thinking


    Everyone goes through it. Negative thinking is a strong emotion like fear or anger. We lose our control over the things we say or do. This kind of thought hurts not only us but the people around us as well.

    Susan David, a famous psychologist has written a book that guides us to move through negative thinking rather than avoiding it. She has focused on moving through because it is almost impossible to avoid negative thoughts despite an effort. The name of her book is Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.

    Thinking about regrets, the future, and being judgmental about ourselves can get us stuck in negative thinking. Other reasons can be old ideas that are no more relevant in the current world, righteousness, and blaming the thoughts for our behaviors.

    Forcing ourselves to think positively can result in toxic positivity that will not help to deal with negative thinking but make it more severe for us.

    How we try to cope the negative thinking can also keep us stuck in those thoughts. So it is important to learn emotional agility to deal with negative thoughts. Here are three different yet interrelated methods to deal with negative thinking from

    1. Acknowledge your feelings: 

    To deal with negative thoughts, we have to accept the existence of these thoughts. In simple words, accepting the feelings is a first step in the right direction. Research studies have shown that smokers, who have participated in a program that is based on accepting, observing, and detaching, were more successful at quitting.

    Another study has shown that people with alexithymia (who are unable to put their feeling into words) have poor mental health, unsatisfied jobs, more aches and pain, and unsuccessful relationships.

    Accepting the feeling and thoughts of negative thinking is the starting point to deal with it. So we need to be clear on this, that we go through such thoughts and its human nature. What we need to do is to deal with these thoughts rather than living with these thoughts.

    2. Be Kind to Yourself: 

    Having negative thoughts is not criminal. Yes, we need to get through these thoughts and the approach we need to adopt is self-compassion. It brings clarity and helps us improve in the future. Self-compassion also lets us understand the meaning of these negative thoughts that lead us to know our desires, needs, and boundaries.

    Another technique for this emotional agility method is Stop, Rethink, and substitute also known as SRS. Professor Jeffery S. Nevid has explained in detail how this exercise works.

    As per Nevid, stop is noticing and calling out the negative emotions rather than putting them under the surface.

    Rethink is the question about negative thoughts. Are we too hard or soft on ourselves? Does that negative feeling make any sense?

    The substitute is talking back to the negative thought with an affirmative approach. For example, challenge your thought of “I am at fault always” with “I cannot think that I am at fault automatically”.

    3. Take a New Perspective: 

    Another approach to deal with negative thinking is to look at it from another person’s perspective. For example, if you think that you were unable to perform the task and it has created negative thoughts in your mind. Just try to think or even ask one of your colleagues about the reason, was incompetency a reason for failure to perform the task or it was too tough.

    This approach will help you to get away from negative thoughts. It will help you to think about a new and positive perspective of the feeling that has been affecting you negatively.


    Having a look at these different methods, we can understand that it is not impossible to deal with negative thoughts. What we all need to do is to get through these thoughts with the help of emotional agility as described by Professor Susan David. It is all about to loosen up, calm down, and live with more intention.