Last updated:

May 5, 2024


 min read

Dealing with Negative Thoughts

Do you often find yourself trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts? It's a common experience, but it doesn't have to be your reality. In this article, we'll explore effective strategies to help you break free from negative thinking and cultivate a more positive mindset.

Reviewed by
Sneha Toppo
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom”, said Victor E Frankl.

Understanding Negative Thoughts

Unpleasant intrusive thoughts are common to have in daily cognitive functioning, most of the time ruminating on past events or worries of the future. Over-thinking about the past or future increases the access to disturbing memories, low and sad mood. It results in reduction in problem solving ability, poor self-esteem, and unhealthy self-perception; making one get stuck in the vicious cycle of intrusive, irrational, disturbing thoughts – feeling sadness, fear and anger.

The more one sits with the intrusive thoughts, it hampers the ability to focus on resources to reduce them, and also disrupts the everyday functioning. Most of us try to ignore these thoughts or suppress them by coping with putting in the attention into work or hobbies. But, they come up or still hang out and intrude constantly; leading to more preoccupation with the worry.

Suppression of thoughts, worrying and rumination are most common cognitive processes which are disturbing for an individual. Suppression is a conscious effort to avoid specific thought. Worry is difficulty controlling the thoughts related to future events with an increase in the frequency of thoughts. Rumination is thinking judgmentally of one’s negative state.

Tips to reduce Negative Thoughts

Stopping negative thoughts can be challenging, but not impossible. One can try following ways to understand and deal with the irrational thoughts and replace them with rational ones.

(1) Awareness of negative thoughts:

Pay attention to your thoughts. Notice the arising intrusive thoughts and acknowledge them without judgement. Instead of feeding the instant urge of ignoring them or suppressing them, try to notice the thoughts, and if they are tolerable, try to sit with them and notice what emotions are experienced in that moment/ situation. Notice the automatic negative thoughts, notice the disturbing self-talk.

(2) Regulating emotions and physiology:

The human brain is wired and developmentally conditioned to function in gauging the threat in and around the individual, as proposed by Dr. Dan Siegal in his theory of ‘Hand Brain Model’. At the same time the brain also has a great quality of adapting to the change. Hence, what one feeds the brain with; it creates and strengthens those neural wirings. In moments when one is feeling unpleasant due to intrusive thoughts, one can regulate themselves and calm down the heaviness. This helps in coming to the present moment, to live in the here and now and not dwell in the past or worry about the future.

(3) Mindfulness:  

Practising mindfulness helps one be in the present with clarity, wisdom and kindness. It helps to remain balanced in uncomfortable situations, building resilience internally. With mindfulness, one tries not to suppress or ignore any thoughts or experiences, but to deal with them in healthy ways. This also helps the individual to be curious to understand the intrusive thoughts and the experience, remaining open to new possibilities.

(4) Challenging the negative thoughts:

When there are intrusive thoughts, there are many errors called distortions. When there are distortions, the brain tricks the perception of the situation as threatful or challenging or difficult, leading to disturbance in thoughts which looks real. Once the individual is regulated, mindful and is aware of the intrusive thoughts; the individual can question the validity of the negative thoughts – What went through my mind? What disturbed me? What do they mean to me? Is there evidence to prove these thoughts to be true? Is there any evidence to prove these thoughts to be untrue? Is it a fact or an opinion? Are they based on facts or assumptions?

(5) Being Self- compassionate:

To replace the irrational thoughts with rational thoughts one can practise self-compassion. In this practice, the individual tries to be in the present with what thoughts are and how they impact the individual instead of thinking of the past disturbances and anticipating the worst of the future. The individual is also aware that there are other individuals going through the same concern with more or less intensity building the common humanity. This also helps him or her to be kinder towards self instead of being self-critical. By inducing self- compassion, the individual learns to be kind towards self, engage in less rumination, have social connectedness, and experience more positive effects.

(6) Healthy Lifestyle:

Regular exercise can improve your mood and help reduce negative thoughts. The physical movement helps in inducing the feel good hormones and boosts the mood. At the same time, a good amount of sleep and healthy food is important to experience a healthy state of mind. One can try to include physical movements like 11 minutes brisk walk, 5 minutes of dancing, 20 minutes of gardening, 20 minutes of weight lifting, and many other things in routine. Any movement is better than none.


Once the individual is aware of intrusive thoughts, acknowledges them, and accepts them, it is the individual’s choice to either resist or work on reducing them. As said before, ignoring or suppressing will only make the thought stay and spiral forever; but by accepting and working on them helps in disarming the thoughts in more healthy ways. It is rightly said by Carl Jung – “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size”.

It's important to remember that it's normal to have negative thoughts from time to time. Negative thoughts can be overwhelming, but they don't have to control your life. By understanding the root causes of your negative thinking and implementing effective strategies, you can learn to manage your thoughts and cultivate a more positive mindset. However, if negative thoughts are persistent and affecting your daily life, consider seeking professional help.

Online therapy offers a range of benefits, including accessibility, affordability, and convenience. With a team of experienced therapists and a user-friendly platform, Rocket Health India offers personalised support to help you manage and overcome negative thoughts. Take the first step towards a more positive mindset and start your journey towards mental well-being.


Kelly JD 4th. Your Best Life: Managing Negative Thoughts-The Choice is Yours. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2019 Jun;477(6):1291-1293. doi: 10.1097/CORR.0000000000000791. PMID: 31094837; PMCID: PMC6554130.

Sockolov, M. (2020). Practising Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday. Embassy Books.