How do I Change My Negative Thoughts? 5 Practical Strategies

Can You Relate?

Have you ever tried to go to sleep only to be assaulted by a barrage of negative thoughts? Or what about when you say something and feel like it came out the wrong way. Do you find you just can’t stop thinking about what other people are thinking about you because of what you said? If this is you then you are in good company. And by that I mean company includes all of us. Every human on this planet has experienced times when negative thoughts overtake our minds and we feel like prisoners in our own lives. The good news is we have a loving God who cares and has given us practical help.

What does God say about our thoughts?

The verse Proverbs 3:4 says, trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. If we were to believe our negative thoughts and perceive them as true, then we would live in constant pain, confusion, and anguish.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, we demolish arguments and every argument that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

What does it mean to be obedient to Christ in our thought life? We take action and don’t allow just any thought to take up residence in our mind. The verse, Philippians 4:8, comes to mind when I think of ways to be obedient in my thought life. He says, MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS!! Finally, brethren, whatever things are TRUE, whatever things are NOBLE, whatever things are JUST (fair), whatever things are LOVELY, whatever things are of GOOD REPORT, if there is any virtue and if there is anything PRAISEWORTHY—meditate on these things.

Take every thought captive.

This does not mean to ignore the hurtful or harmful thoughts you may have. It does mean don’t these thoughts to control and overtake you. Challenge every negative thought by interrogating it.

But how; you may ask?

5 Practical Strategies

1. Become aware of your negative thoughts by writing them down and challenging them against the list of things in Philippians 4:8. Is this thought true? Am I being fair to myself or others by keeping this thought? What happened right before I had this thought? Have I eaten yet today? How is my sleep? Am I stressed?

2. Challenge the thought by asking, how will I feel about this in a week, a month, a year? Will my feelings toward this thought change? When you tend to personalize others emotions you can ask, maybe they were having a bad day? Maybe their mood isn’t actually directed toward me. Did I really do anything wrong? Is this REALLY my issue or is it theirs?

3. Sometimes we get so stuck in our negative thinking and we need something quick and abrupt to stop that cycle. Imagine yourself riding a bicycle and you are riding along a deep dark alley, heading toward death and doom. Your brakes aren’t working, you can’t stop yourself and you keep speeding up, but nothing seems to work so you grab a stick and throw it in the spokes of your bicycle wheel. This will abruptly stop your bike. Thought stopping works similar to that by saying out loud STOP!

4. Distract yourself from the negative thoughts by going outside, listening to music, or calling a trusted friend. If your negative thought cycle is becoming incessant and you are deep into the cycle, distractions can help give you the space to think of something different and positive. Then take some deep breaths and think of things that are good and true and noble and just.

5. Journaling is another great way to get negative thoughts out and give them a place to rest. Even tearing up the paper or safely burning it can release the anger or frustration behind those thoughts. Using positive journal prompts can help to remind yourself of the positive things in your life that represent Philippians 4:8. Make a list of things that are true, praiseworthy, lovely and of good report. Keep a list of positive things you can think on to replace those negative thoughts that like to creep in and then dominate your thought life.

Just Imagine What Life Could be Like

Initially it will take some effort to process and challenge your negative thoughts, but as you begin reframing them with thoughts that are good and true, you will notice a major shift in your mood and how you respond to others. You can feel better about yourself and how you think and respond to others. You are worthy of a healthy thought life and are more than capable of achieving one.

Next Steps

This is where you can absolutely get the help you need to make positive changes. You can read books on changing your thoughts to change your life, process your thoughts with friends for accountability, or go big and reach out to a therapist. If you are ready to make a change and want someone trained to help you with these issues they are here and ready to get started. You can go to NewVisionCounseling.org or call (405) 921-7776 to start your journey towards what better looks like for you today. We are here to help you and hope to hear from you soon.

Authored by Shae Gilbert, LPC and edited Shawn Maguire, LPC at New Vision Counseling and Consulting

When Change is Unexpected

Sometimes change can be seen far down the horizon, and whether it’s welcome or not, we have time to brace ourselves for what lies ahead. Weddings, a baby’s due date, graduation, and the changing of the seasons are usually predictable and provide plenty of time to prepare.

But what about the changes that occur suddenly with little to no warning? What do we do when a routine screening tests positive for cancer? What happens when a meeting with your employer ends with a pink slip or transfer papers? How do we respond when a police officer knocks on our door with news that there has been an accident?

When the proverbial rug is snatched out from under us, we have to be careful in choosing our next steps. To handle change in a healthy way, we need to be aware of our own instincts, surround ourselves with healthy relationships, and know our own limitations.

Know Your Instincts

When change comes unexpectedly, our fight-or-flight responses kick in. Some of us are naturally wired to attack the situation with every ounce of energy they can muster. They become consumed by it, believing they have the power and ability to make it go away if they fight hard enough against it. Others will push the change out of their thoughts or even live in denial of what has happened to them. They go about their lives as normal, neglecting what needs to be done and the changes that need to be processed.

Whatever your instinct is, there is a verse in scripture that can help you accept change in a healthier way. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” For those of us who are fighters, we need to remember we can’t face anything in our own power but we can with His! He is the creator and sustainer of all things, including your situation. So be still and let Him fight for you. For those of us who are runners, we have to remember that while this may be a surprise to us, it certainly isn’t a surprise to God. He promises to get us through any situation He has called us to, so stand boldly and let Him work His strength out in your life.

Find Your People

The Bible is very clear that none of us are called to face life alone. Time and time again, it describes the disciples going out two by two or meeting in each other’s homes to encourage and motivate one another. When change takes you by surprise, don’t underestimate the power of a coffee date with a friend, or a phone call to your sister. Just as you would hope your loved ones would call you if they needed help or encouragement, your friends would be honored to face this challenge with you.

If you don’t have a strong community of friends, pursue a membership in a local church. Make it a point in seasons of stability to surround yourself with healthy relationships with other believers so when change does come--and it will--you’ll have people ready to step in and lend a hand.

Know When to Seek Professional Help

While some changes can be managed with the help of a friend, you also need to be aware of your limitations. Some situations are far too complex to be handled alone or in the church. Sometimes professional counseling is the next step. We at New Vision Counseling and Consulting believe that by integrating God’s truths along with proven counseling techniques, we can help your mind, body, and soul as you cope with the changes ahead. We want to become part of your community as a source of encouragement, motivation, and understanding.

If you would like to learn more about our services and see how New Vision can serve you or your family, contact us today. If you have a loved one who is struggling through a season of change, share this message with them so they can feel empowered to regain control in a healthy way.




One Myth About Change You Probably Still Believe

In our fast paced society we are taught to expect our food, movies, and now even dates to come to us on demand. And for a bonus, Staples can install an “Easy” button so that all this requires minimal effort. Wow, if that were only true in changing bad habits.

How hard is it to change a habit? Well, I know that for me it can be tough depending on the habit and its meaning. Recently, I sold my house of 14 years to my pastor. After we moved, guess where I went when I left work on more occasions then I want to admit? You guessed it, my previous house. Why did I keep doing this? It wasn’t because it was close to my new one, as it was in the opposite direction. It wasn’t because I missed it because I was really enjoying the new house and land we lived on. So why?

I continued going back to my past house because that is what I had done before. I did it without thinking about it. On my drive home I do things like pray, process my day, plan my evening and make phone calls. I was distracted and operating on autopilot. I remember on one occasion talking with my pastor and ending up on the road to my old house. So how did I change my unconscious autopilot?

I needed to be focused and intentional when I left work. This means I removed all distractions. I didn’t make calls, pray, or process my day until I was on the right road going the right direction. I had to do this many, many times before it became native to go to my new home. Thankfully, after five months the changes are sticking and my unconscious belief about my home has shifted from my old address to my new address.

I shared about going to a new home. Consider what home or habit you want to leave behind and what new place or habit you want to create. How can you be intentional in the little areas to have a big impact? And how can you ensure your success through doing these little activities daily?

For more information about marriage and family counseling contact us today at (405) 921-7776