5 Ways to Challenge Negative Thoughts

Negative thinking can be very harmful to us. When these thoughts build up, they can often lead to anxiety or depression. It is important that we learn effective methods to challenge negative thoughts. This can help us live more positive, fulfilling lives.

Here are our top 5 tips for challenging negative thoughts: 

1) Understand your thought patterns 

There are many different types of negative thought patterns that we could use. Some common ones are: 

  • Black and white thinking – where we see everything one way or the other, with no in-between 
  • Personalization - where we assume that we are responsible for anything that goes wrong (this does not take into account other factors unrelated to us) 
  • Filter thinking – where we choose to only see the negative side of things 
  • Catastrophization - assuming the worst possible outcome will occur If we can identify these negative thought patterns, we can replace them with more helpful thought patterns. 

2) Practice mindfulness 

Mindfulness practices like meditation can help us focus on the present rather than dwelling on past events or worrying about the future. It can also help us decenter ourselves, allowing us to distance ourselves from depressive thoughts and feelings. When we let go of negative thoughts, we can look at them as outside observers and question them more easily. 

3) Start a thought journal 

Another way to stop negative thoughts is to keep a thought journal. We can use this tool to identify our negative thinking styles and gain a better understanding of how our thoughts can create our emotional responses. 

4) Focus on gratitude 

Challenge negative thoughts by focusing on gratitude. When we're in a negative headspace, it can sometimes be difficult to think about what we're grateful for. Still, try to think of three things every day that you're grateful for, even if they're really small. When we focus on gratitude, we are more likely to adopt a more positive attitude as well. 

5) Seek professional help 

Finally, if you need more support in managing your negative thoughts, seek professional help from a therapist. We can talk to our friends and family to help us gain perspective, but sometimes we also need the support of a psychologist who can give us more tools to change our thinking.