How to deal with negative thoughts - 5 simple ideas

It could be the occurrence of an event, a random comment, or an unnamed fear that took birth in your mind for no apparent reason. I’m referring to the source of negative thoughts. Strangely enough, it can begin with a good and a bad event or comment. How?

Well, let’s say four out of five of your friends, who watched your performance in a play, complimented you. The tendency of your mind would be to dissect why that one friend overlooked saying something positive about you. Not to revel in the positive statements of the other four! That is the pull and power of negative thoughts. So, it is extremely important to learn how to get rid of negative thoughts so they don’t, unnecessarily, pull you down.

However, first, before we figure out how to remove negativity, it would help to understand what thoughts are considered negative. Thoughts of jealousy, ill-will, fear, anger, hatred, bitterness and doubt perhaps? Basically, anything that makes you feel bad and low inside. It might give you an outer sense of power and control, but an inner sadness and helplessness.

If you keep resisting negative thoughts, and try to push them away, then they will follow you like a ghost. Shake hands with your negative thoughts. Tell them, ‘Come here and sit with me. I will not leave you’, and you will see how they quickly disappear.

                                                        - Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

It can creep into your mind even when you are seemingly happy and joyous – that niggling doubt and suspicion that keeps you from being the wholehearted and joyous person you are. This is because when you begin the pursuit of joy, another pursuit begins simultaneously - by misery of you. Perhaps this is because the next moment of joy has to live up to the previous one and this sets you up for disappointment.

If you follow joy, misery follows you. If you follow knowledge, fun follows you.

                                                                              – Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

So how do you get rid of negative thoughts? Is there a magic potion? Is it hidden deep in our religious scriptures? Can you buy it in the market? Unfortunately no. If only it were so easy to So how do you get rid of negative thoughts? Is there a magic potion? Is it hidden deep in our religious scriptures? Can you buy it in the market? Unfortunately no. If only it were so easy to avoid negative thoughts! However, it is, probably, not a very complex solution either. Like everything else, it is about practice. Practicing positivity. ! However, it is, probably, not a very complex solution either. Like everything else, it is about practice. Practicing positivity.

How to remove negative thoughts

Negative thoughts can catch you unawares. They attack you when you least expect it. They suck you into a dark and bottomless pit. What is your ladder out of this abyss? This is different for different people. See if these simple ideas can help you.

1) Keep busy

An idle mind is a devil’s workshop. You must have noticed that the looser the reins on your mind, the lesser control you have over your thoughts. How do you rein in wayward and aimless thoughts that tend to move towards negativity?

One possible way is to occupy it - with a useful pursuit in life. On a daily basis, have a place to go - whether it’s work, to the market or a walk. Following a disciplined and healthy routine occupies your mind, body and soul. This helps to avoid negative thoughts.

2) Help others

When you help someone, known or unknown, you get into a happy frame of mind. Putting a smile on another person’s face gives you a sense of power. An ability to cheer someone up is, indeed, a gift. It makes you feel good. This will prevent negative thoughts from making their unwanted presence.

3) Integrate with society

At least for some time in your day. Do you have friends? Do you partake in events that help you bond with society? A satsang sort of setting would be nice. This is important because, like it or not, social integration can help unlock your positivity.

When you get together for a common purpose with others, you imbibe the energy and intellect of the group. This makes you think of the society at large rather than your narrow and small world. With a broader mental horizon, you are transported to a higher plane of thinking, where there is no place for negative thoughts.

The processes taught in the Art of Living Meditation and Breath Workshop will remove all the negative energy from your consciousness. Do it now.


4) Be grateful

Count the blessings in your life. Very often, we make it a habit to complain. Sometimes to be funny or entertaining, sometimes to vent. Unfortunately, old habits, really, do die hard.

So, try to limit the complaints. Instead, speak about the positive aspects of life and express gratitude. Like the Pygmalion effect, it will get instilled into you and the warm words that you expressed will find their way back to you. After all, what goes around, comes around.

5) Follow nature

With your mind, body and soul. It is not a natural state to be unhappy or depressed, nurturing negative notions within. It is the unnatural lifestyle we lead, on a daily basis, that makes it difficult to remove negative thoughts.

So, go back in time to find the simpler you. Find natural ways to exercise every aspect of you. You could try yoga asanas to cleanse your body, pranayamas to purify your mind and meditation to sharpen your consciousness. These will lead you away from negativity.

Vyayam (physical exercise) + pranayama (mental exercise) = Way to positivity

Other tips on how to remove negative thoughts

  • Do not be afraid of bad thoughts and dwell on them. Let them come and go. What you resist persists. Be like the sky watching the dark clouds pass by.
  • Sometimes random things like gloomy weather or a drab dress can sour your mood and thoughts. Solution: Wear bright colors and look for the silver lining amidst the dark clouds. Sometimes, it is just that simple!
  • Avoid gossip. Even if it seems like fun and you bond with your mate over it! Inevitably, and ultimately, you will feel disgusted with yourself.
  • Don’t be overly rigid and judgmental of others. Also, avoid victimizing yourself. Take charge of your life. It will empower you and make you feel positive.
  • Avoid unhealthy practices and lifestyle choices. Habits like drinking alcohol and smoking are particularly harmful because they cloud your judgment. They trick you into thinking they can help remove negative thoughts. On the contrary, they attract negativity.
  • Be aware that it is natural for the mind to trust the doubt that arises within. On the contrary, we tend to distrust the positive elements of our life. This is why it seems that the incidence of negative thoughts is higher than the positive ones.

It is always easier to prevent the onset of negative thoughts than to drive them out once they have settled in. So be proactive in your attempt to avoid negative thoughts rather than be reactive. Realize that you are more than your thought.

Sometimes, time is the greatest healer and equalizer. Without your efforts, you might just find that positive thoughts have as much chance of entering your head as the negative ones. Let the negative ones go so as to make way for the positive ones!

Having too many negative thoughts could also be a sign that your body is not functioning properly. Perhaps your blood circulation is inadequate or your lymphatic system or bowel movements are defective. In this case, do consult an Ayurvedic doctor to help cleanse your system.

The Art of Living’s Happiness program, is the perfect blend of yoga asanas, meditation and breathing exercises like the Sudarshan Kriya. The experience helps you discover your positive and optimistic side. You will learn how to remove negativity and dispel the dark mood that tags along with it.

(Written with inputs from Sri Amol Wagle, International faculty, The Art of Living)