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Pragmatic Ways To Reduce Negative Thoughts and Feelings

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Negative feelings are unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean we should accept them or let them manifest into more damaging emotions.

In my slow living guide, I mention that when something negative happens, we need to find a way to accept it and then release it from our lives. The last thing we want to do is react to it in a way that only exacerbates the problem.

Acknowledge negative emotions, address them, and then move on.

When something negative happens, I don’t try to hide from those feelings because they can just build up and manifest into more damaging emotions like stress and anxiety over time.

I acknowledge those negative emotions and deal with them as it happens. Then I move on. Sometimes I have trouble automatically handling issues, which is when I use some of the concepts of reducing negativity mentioned in this article.

Try these ideas to eliminate negative feelings when they emerge. Your mileage may vary, but they work for me.

7 Ways To Reduce Negativity

Sometimes the simple ideas work best. In random order, here are my 7 go-to remedies to help curb negativity.

1. Center Your Emotions

Centering your emotions is when you can relax your mind and body to a point where you are neutral. You are relaxed enough to neither feel positive nor negative about things. You can observe and think through problems objectively to develop potential solutions.

People achieve this state in several ways, but I recommend quiet time with breathing exercises.

You can Google breathing exercises to find one you like, but here is what I do most of the time.

Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Sit down and close your eyes and just relax your body. Focus on listening to your body breathe, and try to adjust your breathing to a comfortable and consistent pace.

Do this for 10 or 15 minutes, and try not to think about anything during that time. The goal is to reach a point where you feel relaxed enough to not particularly think about anything good or bad.

Live in this relaxation for another 10 minutes, and then open your eyes and “wake up” for a few minutes. Still seated, keep calm, and start thinking about the negativity you are having trouble with.

This is obviously not an exact science. For me, relaxing my mind and body in this way reboots my brain, and I feel better able to address any negative thoughts.

2. Try Physical Activity

When I have trouble eliminating negative feelings as they develop, they quickly become stressed.

The best way I know to fight off stressful emotions is to get my blood flowing through some exercise. That does not always mean I spend much time on it, either.

If the luxury of time affords it, I prefer to do some stretching routines and then go for a long walk or jog outside where I can get some fresh air.

That said, sometimes I do not have time right now, but I don’t want to let the negativity linger. So just stretching and a short walk around the office, parking lot, or just taking 10 minutes to walk around the block will work.

The idea is to switch from mentally worrying about the negativity to enjoying the exercise. The movement process is when our body releases endorphins which can lead to feeling good about ourselves and may empower an optimistic view on solving an issue.

Sometimes I do not handle negative issues just because my brain is overloaded at that time. Once the exercise kicks in, I can usually knock out any negativity.

3. Get Some Rest

This is an easy one to explain, we all know it, but it is worth mentioning because we often ignore it.

When we are tired, we do not think as well. We have all experienced times when we didn’t get enough rest and have had negative thoughts or responded to something wrong or improper.

Being short-tempered and being closed-minded are everyday negative actions for me when I am not rested.

If you are tired and find it challenging to handle something negative, try to postpone dealing with your problem until you are better rested.

Even a quick 20-minute nap can be enough to think clearly again.

4. Write Through It

When we write things down, they become real. When we write down something negative we are having trouble dealing with, the solution process feels natural and is the first step to feeling positive.

We all like taking action and fixing things, so just the process of writing down a problem can make us feel empowered and positive.

Start by listing what you think the problem is. Think of what prompted this feeling. For example, I may write, “I can’t shake feeling hurt from an online comment someone made about me.”

Then, I try to open my mind and write anything I feel about that statement. Write openly and fast, and don’t worry; just keep writing.

It is also essential to refrain from judging what you write. This is just a brain dump to look at.

When you run out of things to write about, read what you wrote. You can make edits and notes if you like.

When I do this, the writing process flushes out feelings and reasons I couldn’t reach just by thinking alone. The method of writing can be more personal sometimes, and different senses can flush out emotions.

Often this work helps identify how I feel about the negativity, which leads to being able to get rid of the negativity.

When you are done, throw out what you wrote. The negativity was helpful on paper to help release it from our lives; we don’t need to archive reminders of it.

5. Try Mental Distractions

I like to compare using mental distractions to get rid of negativity to trying to edit your own writing.

I will make many mistakes if I try to edit a blog post I just spent several hours writing. However, I am much better at catching errors if I take a 15-minute break before I start editing.

The same goes for problem-solving and dealing with negative thoughts and feelings. Sometimes you need to call a time out and make your brain think of something else.

Do that something else long enough to shift your brain’s focus, and then try to resolve your negative feelings later.

This suggestion works well for me and might be a good thing to try initially.

6. Improve Body Language

We can focus on smiling more and using positive body language to feel better when we are in a bad mood or feeling negative.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t sure it would work when I started doing this, but I did it anyway. To my delight, this simple exercise works for me more often than not.

Granted, it will not solve the problem itself. Still, it will put me in a better mindset to address the negativity. And everyone can do it.

All you need to do is notice when you are feeling sad, grumpy, or pessimistic and force yourself to smile and walk with good posture. Walk intently, say hi to people, and look around. That’s it.

When I do this, it doesn’t take long for me to noticeable feel in better spirits. I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t know why this works. I compare it to when you are in a room, and people start laughing. It doesn’t take too long until everyone is laughing. It just happens.

I try to do this all the time, but I especially make sure to do this when I am feeling low. Try it; you will be surprised how well it lifts your spirits (not to mention those around you too).

7. Spill Your Guts

When I was younger, I had a few bartending jobs, and I will never forget how many people would come in and start telling me their problems.

They didn’t want my input or help to fix anything; they just wanted to spill their guts to someone so they could feel better.

I have tried this myself, and it did help me feel better about something that was eating at me and that I felt pessimistic about.

The conversation can be one way, like my bartending example, where we just dump out our emotions and feel better just by sharing our problems. Feeling better about it can be a practical first step in solving an issue.

If you have someone you feel comfortable talking to about it, you can also exchange ideas and have a more proactive conversation that may lead to a resolution.

Everyone is different, but spilling your guts is definitely an option to try next time you have some negativity you are hanging onto.

FAQ About Negativity

In this section, I wanted to provide some questions and answers I come across when I talk to people about dealing with negativity.

These answers are my opinions based on my experiences, so you may or may not agree with them.

What does it mean to be negative?

When we talk about being pessimistic or having negative thoughts, we address a period when we think or feel sad, depressed, or in a general sense, unpleasant.

Is it normal to feel or act negatively?

Negativity can be a healthy emotion in the short term because it allows us to express a feeling to cleanse it from our system. It can be unhealthy if negativity persists and negatively impacts all areas of our life.

Is negativity learned?

Negativity is one of many emotions that we are born with and use to deal with feelings. Our propensity to be negative (or positive) is learned. We can work on being positive or negative – the end result is up to us.

Can negativity be controlled?

We can control negativity if we are mindful of how we feel and act. Sometimes we go through rough stretches in life and feel more negative than usual, but this is usually fleeting once the underlying problem is resolved.

Is negativity a problem?

Negativity is typical in the short term but can be a problem in the long run if we consistently act or feel negative for an extended period without knowing why. In these cases, asking a professional for guidance is a good idea.

Closing Thoughts

As I mentioned at the beginning, negative feelings are unavoidable in life, but that doesn’t mean we need to accept them.

When we identify and address negativity as it occurs, it is much easier to get rid of than when it has time to hang around and manifest into more damaging emotions.

So the next time you have some negative feelings that seem to stick around longer than usual, relax and try a few of the ideas I mention in this article; they work.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Below is some footer stuff to consider.