4 Ways to Overcome Negative Thoughts

you are not your thoughts


So many people think happiness is about genetic traits, and that’s complete bull 💩

Many people will say things like: “everything is just rainbows and butterflies for that person,” or “they’re just lucky; they didn’t have the same upbringing as me.”

Now! Some people are born with a happier, carefree disposition than others, and research does indicate that some of your sense of well-being may be in your genes.

But only partly.

Psychotherapist Susan Zinn of Susan Zinn Therapy says your genes make up an estimated 40% of your ability to be happy.

I believe that happiness is a skill, and skills can be developed.

But the question begs, why do we tend to think more negatively than positively?

Could it be because we’re naturally drawn to the negative more so than the positive?

Check this out! A new study indicated that we have ~6,200 thoughts per day.

The research conducted can determine the beginning and end of a single thought.

Scientists are calling this a “thought-worm” 💭🪱

Let’s run a quick thought experiment of our own, shall we?!

Do you find yourself thinking more positively or negatively throughout the day?

Take a moment to think about that…

According to available data, 80% of our thoughts are negative and recurring thoughts.

That only leaves 20% for positive/creative thinking!

Idk about you, but if you’re anything like me. That just won’t cut it!

Let’s call these recurring thoughts ANTS 🐜

“Automatic Negative Thoughts”

Automatic Negative Thoughts

ANTs are the negative thoughts that pop into our heads uninvited, often just when we’re starting to feel good about ourselves.

They’re usually based on irrational beliefs or past experiences we’re unaware of.

ANTs are negative thinking that can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

They may cause us to become preoccupied with negative outcomes and make it difficult to focus on anything else.

They can also lead to harmful behaviors, such as avoidance or self-criticism.

If you find that these ANTs are starting to interfere with your life, there are several things we can do to address them.

  1. Higher Order Thinking

  2. First-order thinking & Second-order thinking

  3. Challenging the beliefs underlying our ANTs

  4. Reframing our past experiences

Higher Order Thinking

One of the most effective ways to reduce negative thinking is to engage in higher-order thinking.

By that, I mean thinking that is not only critical and analytical but also creative and open-minded.

Higher-order thinking requires us to go beyond the surface level of our thoughts and ideas and explore their deeper implications and consequences.

There is a solid model for higher-order thinking called Bloom’s Taxonomy used for the classification of educational learning objectives into levels of complexity and specificity and goes something like this 👇

Create: Use something to create something new

  • Plan

  • Build

  • Design

  • Produce

  • Construct

Evaluate: Critically examine information & make judgments

  • Test

  • Judge

  • Criticize

  • Defend

  • Critique

Analyze: Dissect information & explore relationships

  • Examine

  • Organize

  • Compare

  • Contrast

  • Categorize

Apply: Use new info in a new (but similar ) way

  • Use

  • Draw

  • Solve

  • Diagram

  • Make a chart

Understanding: Understanding & making sense of information

  • Discuss

  • Explain

  • Interpret

  • Summarize

  • Paraphrase

Remember: Find or remember information

  • List

  • Find

  • Name

  • Identify

  • memorize

It also demands that we be willing to question our assumptions and beliefs and consider alternative perspectives.

This can be challenging, but it’s essential for reducing negative thinking.

When we allow ourselves to think more deeply about our thoughts and beliefs, we open up the possibility of changing them for the better.

We may not always like what we find, but the process of higher-order thinking can help us identify and let go of the negative thoughts holding us back.

First & Second Order Thinking

It’s helpful to begin by understanding that we all have “first” and “second-order thinking” processes.

First-order thinking processes are the fast, instinctive kind that happens automatically and without our conscious awareness.

Second-order thinking processes are the deliberate, logical kind that takes effort and includes our conscious awareness.

Examples of first-order thinking processes include:

  • Fight-or-flight response

  • Sexual attraction

  • Gut reactions

Examples of second-order thinking processes include topics like:

  • Morality

  • Critical thinking

  • Strategic planning

Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) are a type of first-order thinking process.

The good news is that because ANTs are a type of first-order thinking process, we can learn to control them with second-order thinking processes.

We can do this by becoming aware of our ANTs and challenging our beliefs.

By doing this, we can take back control of our thoughts and start living the life we’re designed to live, free from mental suffering.

Challenging Our Beliefs

It’s not difficult to see how many of us get caught up in our beliefs and then allow these unquestioned convictions to completely control our lives.

The problem is that if we don’t challenge our beliefs regularly, we risk becoming stagnant and stuck in our ways.

This is especially true if we’ve never been challenged by another on our beliefs before.

The best way to challenge our beliefs is to seek out opposing viewpoints and then carefully and systematically consider the merits of each position.

Only by constantly testing and questioning our beliefs will we be able to ensure that they are valid and beneficial for us.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that even if our current beliefs turn out wrong, this doesn’t mean we’re bad people.

We all have different perspectives, and we’re all constantly learning new things.

What matters most is that you are always willing to grow and change as new information becomes available.

Once you’ve challenged your beliefs, you can begin to reframe your thoughts in a more positive light.

Reframing Our Past Experiences

It’s often said that we learn from our mistakes.

This is not entirely accurate…

We don’t learn from our mistakes, per se; we learn from the consequences of our mistakes (this is my definition of wisdom.)

If the consequences of our actions are unpleasant, we will likely avoid repeating those actions in the future.

On the other hand, if the consequences are pleasurable, we are likely to repeat the behavior.

We want to begin framing situations because there is an opportunity to learn from our successes instead of our failures.

For example, imagine you made a mistake at work and got scolded by your boss.

If you dwell on this experience and berate yourself for your mistake, you will probably become anxious and stressed every time you make a similar mistake.

However, if you reframe the experience as a learning opportunity, you will be more likely to take risks and experiment in the future, leading to greater success.

Therefore, we must reframe our past experiences in a positive light if we want to learn and grow from them.

With time and practice, it’s possible to change how we think and reduce the impact these automatic negative thoughts have on our minds.


We can see how powerful our thoughts are by looking at the placebo effect. The power of thought is so strong that we can even convince ourselves to feel better or heal faster. This is just one example of the amazing power of the human mind. What else could you do if you believed in yourself? How would your life change if you started thinking more positively? Regarding shaping our reality, our thoughts are incredibly powerful tools.

Final Thoughts

What’s weighing heavy on your mind right now?

90% of what you worry about isn’t important.

Will it still matter in 5 years?

How about in 5 months?

Maybe in 5 days?

5 minutes?


It would mean the world to me If you shared this with someone you know that may benefit, or even better if you copied this letter link and put it in your Instagram story or Facebook feed!

Nadeem Al-Hasan


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