Advertising
Advertising

Easy Ways Proven By Science (And Neglected By Magic) To Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts

Easy Ways Proven By Science (And Neglected By Magic) To Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts

The other night I sat down to watch Harry Potter with a bucket of ice cream and a s’mores spread guaranteed to make Girl Scouts proud. This is my standard consolation meal/movie when shi*t has hit the fan and I’m too tired to make it through Star Wars. I was watching the torture scene, enthralled as a woman rotated above a table, her whimpers of pain and ragged breathing echoing in the cavernous room. The others seated looked bored, abetting her anguish because A. They were bad, bad wizards and B. This witch believed and spread “unclean thoughts”.

As marshmallow oozed down my chin, I felt jealous of how easy this woman had it. Sure, she was being tortured for thinking a certain way but in the series, women and men were always trotting about casting spells to erase memories. And these torture fellas had romantically swept her off her feet, spun her in the air and put an end to the thoughts within minutes. Meanwhile, we wand-less have to labor for weeks, even months to wipe out negative thoughts. Lucky witch.

Negative thoughts are dominated by fear, panic, blame, judgment and doubt. It can be deeply intimate; creating your own private hell or insidiously vast; sweeping through a crowd like a virus. The Holocaust, Salem Witch Trials and the Cold War are all examples of negative thinking holding nations captive.

Advertising

The solution to this would of course be to stop the thoughts. Here are ways proven by science (and neglected by magic) to free your mind.

1. Whistle, sing, smile, dance, stretch

Do this without thinking it’s lame or judging yourself. Since your brain is wired to be connected to your body, negative thoughts zing straight to your body, causing negative energy (body aches, tenseness, tiredness, twitchiness). These loop back to the brain and repeat the cycle. Doing the happy actions above release happy chemicals in your brain, which then travel to the body and repeat the cycle.

2. Be aware of your attention

Thoughts of your car, money, associates, food and clothes are relationships in your life. If these things nourish and enrich you then continue to care for them. If you focus on something out of habit or obligation and it drains you, stop giving it attention. I stand at a gnome-like height of 5’2; slam dunks are clearly not in the cards. But damned if I didn’t try to be a basketball All-Star in high school. It took a lot of energy chasing that dream and even more letting go, when I could have realized from the start my body simply wasn’t built for that exercise. Know that things do not define you unless you allow them to.

Advertising

3. Slow down your rate of exchange

If you’re talking to yourself or others and bile is coming out, slow down. Examine the words. Why did you choose them and are they accurate? Did your mind jump straight to a tired, negative belief? How did you react to the language? How did they? I still can’t hear the word “bus” without feeling hot behind my ears (embarrassment about a gentleman soiling his pants and being trapped in that stench for 30 minutes in stifling summer heat). I can however, replace that memory with one of a public city bus taking me exactly where I needed to go and feeling good about that. A lot of us make statements like “Oh, I’m retarded”. But are you really? Did the doctor sit your mother down and explain your mental hardware was defective in grade school? Probably not. So you’re not retarded, you just made an unwise decision. And you’ll do better next time.

4. Choose

How you think sparks molecular pathways in your brain, like grooves in a piece of wood. You don’t use the other grooves yet, so they’re not well-worn. You can always start a new one with thinking in a new way, tracing the path until the molecules are trained. A scene in “The Terminator” shows our favorite robot in a hotel room when there is a knock at the door and a question posed. Internally, he sees possible responses:

Yes/No
Or what?
Go away
Please come back later
F*ck you, a**hole
F*ck you

Advertising

Granted, he chose “F*ck you, a**hole” but he isn’t an accountant, he’s The Terminator. And if you’re the guy at the bar who sees a man flirting with your girlfriend, you can choose not to jump up and slam a beer glass in his eye. Instead, you can simply walk over and say “f*uck you, a**hole”. Just like Arnold.

5. Don’t pretend to care when you’re indifferent

We all have different experiences, memories, hard knocks and joys. But what we all have in common is our conscious mind and our subconscious mind. If you were raised by church-going parents and feel guilty for not attending Mass in two years, recognize that’s okay. You are not on this earth to live up to other people’s expectations.

6. Declare, write and think of the positive things you want

This kick-starts your brain, literally heating up the part of your brain holding the thought and subconsciously bringing you closer to achieving it. Like a moth to the flame. Do not state what you don’t want, because by giving attention to it, you will draw closer to it.

Advertising

7. Label your negative thoughts as useless

If your mind is swirling in how you might fail, be embarrassed, made fun of or rejected, label these thoughts as useless and proceed with your day. This separates you from the thought, allowing you to see it objectively and skip over your fight-or-flight response. Do this quickly and don’t linger. In city traffic, I constantly see drivers yelling and honking and giving themselves a coronary. Does it change the ridiculous road habits of anyone? Does it make even one other person more considerate or aware? No. It’s only causing you stress. A caveat: if there is a hurricane warning and your negative thought is “Oh, we’re all going to die” recognize this might be an actual possibility and prepare for it. Labeling a category 5 hurricane as useless has no relation on how Mother Nature can rock your world.

8. Repeat a mantra

In the morning, I typically say “I am beautiful, kind, intelligent, loved and loving”. When I offered this suggestion to my brother, he chose “I am going to kick life in the taint today”. What can I say? He’s awesome. Repeating a mantra does two things: 1. It sets your mood for the rest of the day and 2. The brain is incapable of thinking two thoughts at once. It just can’t do it. If your thoughts are actively positive, you are incapable of thinking negatively in that moment. And then you are free to go out and kick life in the taint

More by this author

10 Vital Skills Only Persuasive People Secretly Know Easy Ways Proven By Science (And Neglected By Magic) To Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts 12 Things You Should Know Before Dating a Woman Who Doesn’t Mind Being Single

Trending in Communication

1 What Is Self-Image (And How to Change It for a Happier Life) 2 11 Things Overachievers Do Differently 3 What’s the Purpose of Life? A Guide to Live with Meaning 4 13 Things You Can Do to Build Emotional Resilience 5 How to Overcome Trust Issues in a Relationship (And Learn to Love Again)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 8, 2020

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

We all know some overachievers: supermoms who manage to get online degrees between cleaning, cooking, and taking kids to practice; students who write 10-page papers when the directions call for 4; managers whose resumes look more like pages from the Guinness book of Records.

How do they do it all? How is it possible that one person can graduate at the top of their class, found an orphanage in India, run 30k marathons, write a best-selling book, travel all over the world and learn to speak Mandarin Chinese while having a full-time job?

What’s the secret of an overachiever? Here’re 11 things overachievers do differently that you can learn from.

1. They Know How to Manage Their Time

It’s pretty simple actually – you can never become an overachiever if you don’t know how to organize your time efficiently.

The great thing is that overachievers are ready to share their knowledge and time management talent with the rest of the world. Read The 4-Hour Workweek or The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

2. They Don’t Spend Hours Watching TV or Playing Computer Games

Mostly because they have better things to do, like exercising, reading, spending an evening with their family or volunteering to work in the local soup kitchen. Their philosophy is simple – the world is full of wonderful things to try, explore and experience. Watching TV is not one of them.

Advertising

3. They Are Obsessed With Perfection

Imagine Steve Jobs’ work approach and you’ll understand the level of perfection and painfully high standards that overachievers set for themselves and those around them. Often it pays off (especially if they focus on just one domain). But sometimes compulsive over-striving turns into a sure-fire road to disappointments and unfinished tasks.

Learn how to strike a balance: How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up

4. They Know How To Inspire

Overachievers learn quickly that it is much easier to achieve goals through collaboration (and especially delegation). So they know how to inspire, encourage, persuade and motivate people around them. Even though they often drive their team crazy with their stubbornness and perfectionism, people quickly follow under the spell of their enthusiasm and greater vision.

Learn these 10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively.

5. They Set Clear Goals

The term “overachiever” itself implies that they know how to achieve goals. That is kind of hard to do if your goals are vague, unclear and lack specific deadline, which is why overachievers educate themselves, read goal-setting books, and think about the best way to approach a new task.

Although, it’s worth mentioning that overachievers usually use their time management and goal-setting skills towards competitive, “I want to kick butt” type of goals rather than self-improvement, mastery goals.

Advertising

Take a look at these tips to help you set clearer goals: What Are SMART Goals (And How to Use Them to Become Successful)

6. They Are Organized

It’s hard to imagine a disorganized overachiever, isn’t it? Their great organizational and planning skills usually serve three main purposes: keeping track of time, keeping track of progress and keeping track of achievements.

This hasn’t been confirmed by scientific research yet, but overachievers might actually get a “runner’s high” from crossing tasks off their to-do lists, and making new to-do lists.

Here’s How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

7. They Try to Avoid Failure at All Costs

Some psychologists believe that overachievers place their self-worth on their competence, driven by an underlying fear of failure. Rather than setting and striving for goals based on a pure desire to achieve, their core motivation becomes avoiding failure. This may explain the fact that overachiever beat themselves up for even little setbacks and seemingly-insignificant mistakes.

But be aware that having a strong fear of failure can wrek havoc your productivity. So the best thing to do? Learn to conquer the fear: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It)

Advertising

8. They Love Awards

Who doesn’t love them, right? True enough, but unlike most people who like to feel acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts, overachievers are bent on collecting ‘awards’, be it university degrees, spelling bee prizes or unusual destinations.

While loving awares isn’t bad, it’s even better if you’re driven by internal motivation instead of external ones which could be quite uncontrolable or unstable: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It).

9. They Don’t Understand the Concept of Work Hours

Don’t get surprised if you receive a work-related email anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight. It’s something overachievers usually do and you weren’t the only one. At least 20 more emails have been sent during these hours to other people. The concepts of over-achieving and working overtime usually go hand in hand.

The downside of this is an imbalnced life, which may need to problems in other aspects of life including health and relationships. A better way is to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance.

10. They Rest

Overachievers might often be labeled as “workaholics”, because they often ignore bodily signs of hunger, fatigue and even a full bladder, hoping to finish just one last little part. This doesn’t mean that overachievers don’t know how to disconnect and relax.

True that they tend to work in the highest gear, but they also have enough sense to give themselves time to rest and recharge. Of course, they do it in their own overachieving way, preferring climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or hiking through the Amazon jungle to lazing on the beach.

Advertising

11. Overachievers Continuously Educate Themselves

A great quality that most overachievers have is the hunger for knowledge. They surround themselves with bright people. They know how to listen, and most importantly, they get tons of mentoring.

Despite the fact that overachievers want to excel at everything they set their minds on, they are humble enough to admit that to get on top of their game, they need help. And they are willing to pay someone to push, coach and guide them.

You too can learn How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

More Tips to Help You Achieve Success

Featured photo credit: Nghia Le via unsplash.com

Read Next