3 Mindful Ways to Transform Negative Thoughts

Recognizing our thoughts and where they're taking us is the first step to changing our relationship to them.

asetrova/Adobe Stock

How we relate to our thoughts has a big impact on how our day unfolds, and also how we approach triggers in our lives. By taking a few mindful moments, we can gain some space between us and our reactions, and have some freedom from what triggers us—we don’t have to respond the same way every time. It’s a practice in breaking our habitual negative responses by first tuning in to how a thought or action makes us feel, and how it generates certain storylines in our minds. We can step back for a moment and recognize: hey, that’s not a tried and true fact—it’s just a thought.

Try these three simple approaches over the weekend and see if you can work on changing your relationship certain patterns of thinking. Let your experience be your guide.

3 Ways to Transform Negative Thoughts

1. Recognize the Thought: If the thought is I’m not good enough, life is never going to get better, or some form of complaining or blaming or something like that, take a moment to recognize that the thought is forming in your brain.

2. Relax the Body, Release the Thinking: When you’re experiencing negative thoughts, your body is also reacting. You’re going through some form of a fight-flight-freeze response, so take a moment to relax your body. Through mindful breathing, you can use the out-breath to release tension in your body, as well as any negative thinking. You can even imagine negative thoughts leaving your body with the out-breath.

3. Name a Positive: Now that you have a little space between you and your negative thoughts, consider for a moment: What’s actually good right now? What’s going on that’s good in life? Could it be that you’re safe, you’re body is working okay in this moment, you actually have some friends you can count on, you have a job—whatever it might be, see if you can name a few of those, recognize them, and also just linger in that a little bit.

Practice these three things over and over again as an experiment. What you practice and repeat starts to become more automatic.

read more