5 Ways to Challenge Negative Thinking

Does your worst enemy live between your ears? A recent study in 2020, found that humans have an average of 6,000 thoughts per day. This gives us ample opportunity to view things through a negative lens when things don’t go our way.


At some point in our lives, we’ve all felt like we’re not good enough as a parent, partner, employee, or friend. We may get down on ourselves when we feel overwhelmed, encounter conflict, or experience a situation that doesn’t seem fair. Cognitive distortions often lead to negative thinking patterns which can pollute our inner ecosystem and hinder our ability to navigate situations in a calm, productive, and resilient manner.


Do you ever find yourself saying, “I’m a failure,” “I can’t do anything right,” or “No one cares about me”? These automatic negative thoughts (ANT’s) are unhelpful and even harmful, as they can contribute to low self-worth, lack of motivation, depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Think of it this way…if a bug landed on your head, you’d probably try to knock it off as quickly as you could. So, the next time you notice ANT’s on your brain, consider reacting more swiftly to combat the negative self-talk.


If you’re a pessimist, perfectionist, or simply one who ruminates over worst-case scenarios, chances are you tend to hyperfocus on negativity. This repetitive energy may be more counterproductive in meeting your needs than you think. Our inner dialogue impacts how we feel about ourselves and respond to those around us.


Ways to Challenge Negative Thought Patterns

1.) Recognize – They say, “Knowledge is power.” If you can identify times when you’re looking through a negative lens, it will be easier to gain control over your thoughts more intentionally.

2.) Reality Check – Ask yourself: Is this thought true or irrational? Is this helping or hurting me? What would I tell my friend if they had this thought?

3.) Put it in Neutral – Research shows that positive self-talk is a great predictor of success. However, putting a positive spin on a bad situation can be difficult and unrealistic. Try reframing the thought using a more neutral statement. (Ex: “I’ll never get the job.” vs. “I am qualified and did ok on the interview, so there is a chance I could get the job.”)

4.) Be Present – Anxious, irrational thoughts are usually focused on what may happen in the future. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness can help center you and redirect your negative thoughts to the present. Doing so will often allow you to feel grounded, more curious than critical, and optimistic about finding a solution that will work for you.

5.) Seek Help – Work with a therapist trained in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) who can help you get in touch with the inner critic that may be stepping on your self-esteem.


Do you overthink everything and feel stuck in analysis paralysis? Perhaps you feel trapped in a world of negative thoughts. Get in touch today! Our experienced therapists can help. We’ll join you on your journey toward feeling more hopeful about life, managing negative internal dialogue, and getting rid of the “bugs” stuck in your head. We all have negative thoughts and limiting beliefs, but we also have the power to change them.


Contact us to find the right therapist for you!

Call 703.327.0335