5 Methods to Cut Down Negative Thinking

Steven Aitchison
Written by Steven Aitchison

Cutting down on your negative thoughts might seem like a daunting task to some readers but the benefits make it well worth the time and the effort.  This article will look at only 5 methods of changing your thoughts and making and turning them into a thought virus whereby your positive thoughts spread to affect all of your thoughts.

Our days are filled with thousands of thoughts and a lot of these thoughts are negative or self critical in nature.  These are the thoughts we are looking to target.  I have read somewhere that 40% of our thoughts are negative (I don’t know where so take that statistic with a pinch of salt).  So if we have 60,000 thoughts each day, 24,000 are, on average, negative thoughts or self critical thoughts. These thoughts can stem from what we hear on the news, the radio, read in the newspapers, etc so I believe that the figure of negative thoughts is much higher than 40%, but we’ll stick with 40% just now.Negative-Thinking

5 Methods to Cut Down Negative Thinking


This method looks at introducing new, positive, thoughts at a conscious level.  This means that they are not naturally occurring thoughts, rather thoughts that you have pre planned and introduced to your conscience by way of thinking about them at planned times throughout the day.

For example, if I want to lose weight I tell myself my target weight throughout the day and any time I feel like a biscuit or a cake.  So as soon as I get up in the morning I repeat to myself  “I am 13 stones” (182 pounds), this immediately wakes my mind up to the fact that I am watching what I eat and it starts working to lessen the urges and cravings I get.  Then throughout the day I simply state to myself  “I am 13 stones”.  Whenever I see a cake  – “I am 13 stones”, when I see a biscuit “I am 13 Stones”, when I see a dog – taken that too far! You get the picture.  You are infusing positive thoughts and positive images which will spread to some other thoughts and change the way you think, over time, about your life.  You can try this with any are of your life.


A lot of the times we act on our negative thoughts which leads to more negative thoughts which leads to more etc.  Diffusion is a process of acknowledging your negative thoughts. This is changing the relationship with the negative thoughts that arise during the day.

For example, you are going about your business and suddenly the thought comes up:

“I hate this job”, you then acknowledge that that and say “I hate this part of the job, but there are other aspects I like, such as doing the accounts.”


This is similar to the infusion method described above except that you are repeating phrases in your mind over and over again, much like Émile Coué’s autosuggestion techniques such as “Every day, In every way, I am getting better and better”.  This was one of the first self help methods I used when I first started out and still use it today, although nowhere near as much as I used to, and this is because I am now naturally a positive person because of the techniques I am describing here.


This is a method which lets you accept all your incoming thoughts.  Whilst you are accepting of the thoughts you do not necessarily react to them.

For example you might have the incoming thought of “I’m hopeless at writing new posts.” You acknowledge this thought, keep on writing and say something like “That is how I feel right now, but not necessarily all the time.” You accept the thought and move on with what you are doing.  Pretty soon as you catch a lot of your negative thoughts you will develop a habit of thinking more positively in a natural way.

Reversal and association

This is a method used to reverse the incoming negative thought using recalled emotions and feelings.  It is particularly powerful as you are actively engaging more of your senses and feelings.  An example of using this would be:

Incoming thought: “I Can’t do a presentation, they will all laugh at me.” You then remember an event when you stood up and spoke about a topic you knew well, you remember feeling great and everyone congratulating you at the end of your talk, you felt fantastic after it.  Then you replace the original “I can’t do that…” thought with a new image, of standing up in front of everyone and it going great and you see everyone congratulating you and you feeling great.

There are many more methods for cutting down on your negative thinking habits and turning into a more positive thinking person naturally.  We can’t eliminate negative thinking, and nor would we want to as it can serve us well in some situations, however we do want to cut down on a lot of negative thinking.

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  • Better late than never!
    I have just read this article. very good ideas and tips. I think acceptance is very important. But to start applying these methods, firstly we need to consider our negative thinking and then try to fight it.
    On the other hand, what should we do if everybody around us think negatively? I suppose we have to eliminate the negative thinking of other people and try to not be impacted by them….it is very hard for me but I try.
    Thank you very much!

  • i think NLP and self hypnosis is the best way to overcome negative patterns as lot of peoples now a days using these techniques to quit smoking. even smokers who are smoking for more than 10 years found that they became a non-smoker with in 30 days of practising self hypnosis. the results are permanents.. like wise thought patterns are rising from the sub conscious mind , which through proper reprogramming of sub conscious mind through self hypnosis can be changeable one..

  • Steven, I come here to ask for help now bc you’re a very positive man and I am too I think everything you say is so powerful and makes me analyze things about life. But I can’t say such powerful words to people when the need it… could you please help me? one of my closest friends recently lost her dad. She is very depressed and I understand it maybe I would be worse. But it hurts me to see that there is nothing I can do ! There is jsut nothing that makes her happy anymore, I TOTALLY understand why, but I would like to give her some words that could cheer her up a little bit and make her see that life goes on. She is extremely depressed, she’s only 20 and doesn’t find the point in living anymore :[ I need help please, I just don’t know what to say or what NOT to say.. =/ I wish I could just do something to cheer her up little by little.

  • It’s crazy: the other day I started writing about what it’s like living with indoor animals, and I eventually found myself writing about sadness. I can’t explain why, the words just took me there, and I got sad. Then, I returned to my subject – what it’s like living with indoor animals – and I realized something that is yet another method to cut down on negative thinking.

    Nice meeting your blog, Steven!
    .-= herocious´s last blog ..Living with Indoor Animals Makes You Happy =-.

  • Steven, from the foot of Mount Fuji, thank you for the very helpful five methods you outlined in this excellent post. I would like to add that we concentrate so much mental effort – we spend so much time “in our minds” – we forget that we can also shift negativity by shifting our energy physically. Simple movements or a change in physical setting can dramatically affect how we feel. In reminding ourselves that we are mind, spirit AND body, and then acting on that awareness, we can tap into the power that transforms our lives. We rediscover how to live more positively and joyfully. Warm greetings from Japan – Catrien Ross.
    .-= Catrien Ross´s last blog ..Catrien Ross on Blowing Out Your Negativity in A Puff of Positive Intention to Shift Your Energy =-.

    • Hi Catrien. First, I have to ask the question, What are you doing at the foot of Mount Fuji?

      I love what you have suggested about moving our physical being into a different place in order to affect our thinking.

      Looking forward to your story about being in Japan 🙂

  • Steven, this is a really great article. Its awesome that you included different methods for cutting out negativity because the same thing doesn’t work for everyone. I enjoy the auto-suggestion (bombarding) technique a lot, but when a negative thought creeps in… diffusion is the remedy. Thanks for sharing this.
    .-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..Take a Deeper Look: A Lesson On Understanding and Love from Brother Bear =-.

  • Hey Steven…I love this list! These methods are like the jewels int eh treasure chest of Positive Thinking. Its o great that you shared them here..and that too explained it so so simply with practical example.
    I personally love INFUSION. Its my all time favorite cause its practically worked superbly for me. And surprise surprise for the very example you stated. Ok, I havent reached my target weight as yet…but am getting there…well on the way 🙂
    Thank you shedding light on such wonderful methods….you know I am all for positivity right 😉 I become a bigger and bigger fan of yours every time you write about positive thinking…:)
    Much love,

  • Some top tips here!

    Infusion – definitely works, helps to keep the statement on a piece of card so you can red it twice a day and whip it out as needed for a reminder. You could pop that one on your fridge too:)

    Diffusion – Yes, it helps to just say to yourself stop being such a drama queen, it’s really not THAT bad!

    Bombarding sounds good for emergencies. Dealing with a certain Auntie or colleague who always pushes your buttons for example.

    Accepting – sounds good, just learning that the bad thoughts happen but they go away too and are best ignored.

    Reversal and association – Another good tool. I think any can’t message needs to be registered as utter rubbish. Of course we can!

    I liked this article a lot. Thanks:)

  • Hi Steven, I love these techniques, and I use them frequently with my children when they express negative thoughts. It’s an ongoing process, but definitely worth the effort!

  • Steven,

    Thanks for sharing these five methods! And I completely agree with Tess, GREAT photo.

    I’m a little different in that I probably enjoy the bombarding method the most. Sometimes when I am running, I like to repeat positive phrases in my mind instead of letting it wander.

    Another method I’ve started using to reduce negative thinking is Afformations. Once I notice that I’m in a negative train of thought, I will start repeating certain Afformations in my head such as:

    Why am I so abundant?
    Why does everything always work out for me?
    Why do I feel good all day, every day?

    I just found out about Afformations a few days ago, but so far this has been a very effective way for me to immediately shift from negative to positive thoughts.
    .-= Greg Blencoe´s last blog ..How to love yourself so you can use the law of attraction to get what you want =-.

    • Hi Greg. It’s one of my favourites as well, very symbolic in so many ways.

      I had Noah St John as a guest poster last year and he wrote extensively about Afformations and he has a product based around afformations as well. I loved what Noah had to say when he wrote the guest posts and there are a lot of people following afformations as a way to get what they want in life.
      .-= Steven Aitchison´s last blog ..5 Methods to Cut Down Negative Thinking =-.

  • Steve,
    As usual a great post. I am particularly interested in how our thoughts affect our lives. I often encourage my clients to become familiar with the 10 most common cognitive distortions that generally make up negative thinking, and to start trying to actively monitor their thinking patterns to identify which distortions are most common.

    Keeping a journal is a very good way of doing this. Once you start recognizing your negative thoughts, learn to categorize them (what kind of distortion), then write down counter or “cooling” thoughts in the journal.

    Over time you are really training your mind to immediately recognize the distortions (negative thoughts) and automatically counter or change them… in effect changing your thought patterns from positive to negative.

    .-= Chris Akins´s last blog ..Building great relationships, Part I =-.

  • Hi Steven
    Very useful post. One thing that probably has the single largets impact on the quality of life is the quality of thoughts.
    The issue with negative thoughts is that they feel so good. I read a good anology somewhere – negative thoughts are like appreciating a tiger. The majestic pose, the power, the fur, can be very seductive and inviting. But try sitting down with a tiger – you would be ripped apart. This is what negative thoughts can do to you.

    The best way to improve on the positive/ negative thought ratio is, like you said, to first detect their presence, second to acknowledge their presence, and third to proavtively replace these with postive thoughts. This of-course needs some practice, though with time the success ration steadily improves.

    • Hi Rakesh. You made a great point that no one has touched upon and that is the fact the negative thinking can feel good and I loved your analogy of the tiger. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Steven,

    I think I use a the acceptance more than any of the other five, however I think we all probably have elements of all of them within us. I love the post, it’s very useful and informative; thank you for sharing.


    .-= Paul´s last blog ..Forgiveness =-.

  • Hi Steven,
    Like the consensus, I agree about the idea of acceptance and the huge impact this has on one’s thoughts, but everything takes time, doesn’t it? Recognising this makes the going a little more comfortable now. Over the weekend I shall actively be making room for the conscious practice of ‘infusion’ that you suggest, this is a timely and positive addition that I shall integrate into my ‘new ways’. Every now and again I notice how you and a select few are comfortable enough to mention that you have been in a negative place previously, it is encouraging to know I shall catch you all up one day, that such a goal is at last, most definately in the making.

    • Hi Annette, I love it when I start to see a new regular here such as yourself on CYT. You can catch up on all of us sooner than you think. Belief in yourself Annette! Thanks for commenting, I always appreciate it.

  • Hi Steve,

    Thanks for giving names to the things many of us already do. My favorite is Reversal and Association. When a negative thought creeps into my mind I think about a time when I had a positive outcome with something similar. It makes me feel better and generally makes my work better. It’s kind of like watching a happy ending movie in my mind. 🙂


  • Steven: I couldn’t agree more about the need to cut down on negative thinking. I think the strategies you shared are all very helpful and we need to make certain we are monitoring and managing the thoughts that are running through our minds. Once we understand we have the ability to positively shape and mold our thoughts, it really should be a top priority because thoughts impact everything we do and all of who we are. Thanks for sharing your recommended approaches.

    • Hi Sibyl, thanks for your thoughts on this and you are correct about thoughts affecting our lives. It can be hard to police our thoughts but if we can catch some of them then it makes all the difference.

  • I think a recipe with a little bit of each of these works best. Start with Diffusion, move on to Acceptance then add a little bit of Infusion/ Bombardment. I would also add a dash of Gratitude and your thoughts are bound to change for the better!

  • Just like Anastasiya said, my favorite is acceptance. I noticed that often when people try chnaging their thoughts, they start resisting, being unhappy with themselves for having those thoughts – sending another negative message to their subconscious – I am not good enough. Accepting the thought works much better as resistance doesn’t take place this way and there is no – I am not good enough message. I loved this post Steven. Change your thoughts post on change your thoughts blog.

    • Hi Lana, I think a lot of readers are going for acceptance as being their favourite method of dealing with negativity. You recognised the post for what it was as well, a way to get back to what the blog was about 🙂

  • hi steve
    how are you?
    what a coincidence, i wrote on negative thinking today lol!!!
    Your approach to the subject was in a class of its own & now I am jealous lol!!!
    Based on my experience I can identify a lot with bombarding and acceptance when trying to resolve the negative thoughts that revolve round my mind.
    Thanks a lot for presenting another dimension to this topic
    Take care then

    • Hi Ayo, doing brilliant thanks. Nothing at all to be jealous about Ayo, your post was longer than mine 🙂

      I have to admit to liking the bombarding as an emergency measure when you just can’t seem to pick it up.

      Thanks for visiting Ayo, always good to see you.

  • Hi Steven,
    The photo is one of my all time favorites. It speaks of new birth and perseverance. I have at least 75 index card with affirmations in my own hand writing. I’ve made them especially for me. Sometimes I can’t get above the battleground no matter how hard I try and this is when bombardment works for me. When I’m severely stuck I know it’s a process and I usually step up my journaling, affirmations and meditation.

    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle with negativity from time to time or even a couple times a day. So thanks for this reminder.

  • Steven, loved your article. I can immediately use these ideas in my own private practice and in my own life. Thanks for the great information! Another nice technique is the head and heart. Sometimes you may bombard or infuse, but your ‘gut’ may argue back. In that case, you can ‘talk back’ to your gut, or vice versa.

  • Hey Steven, these are some great ways to stop negative thinking. I think we are capable of cutting down our negative thoughts if we are more aware of them in the present moment. If we can catch them, applying your methods, such as replacing them with more positive thoughts or just acknowledging and accepting that they are there, can help us immediately change having a negative attitude to having a positive one.

  • Hi Steven
    the method that I use most of the time is acceptance. Like you said we cannot eliminate all negative thoughts (and should we really?) but we can accept this part of us. By resisting any negative thoughts you attract them with double strength (the forbidden fruit is always the sweetest, right?) but if you accept them and let them fly through your head without stopping and settling down then you are fine. Coming up with a positive idea after each negative thought is a great way to keep your mind young and positive at the same time.
    Thank you for writing this article!

    • Thanks Anastasiya. I like the image of thoughts flying by without landing. I think to resist would make it worse, like you said, so I don’t think we need eliminate negative thoughts as they can be useful.

      I wouldn’t like to be standing in the middle of a gang of thugs about to beat me up and be thinking “These look like nice chaps, I’ll think I’ll engage them on a higher level and reason with them not to beat the crap out of me, after all I am just stereotyping youths with baseball bats coming toward me……Aaargh”

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