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The brilliant—but simple—trick to dealing with negative thoughts


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Photo: Gabrielle Bernstein
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Welcome to Well+Good’s (Re)New Year—a five-week expert-led program that’s all about helping you have your best year yet. For Week Five, we’re excited to have Gabrielle Bernstein, the ‎self-help phenom (not to mention best-selling author and member of our Wellness Council). Throughout the week, she’ll be sharing her tips for how to channel the self love and confidence you’ve been working on throughout the program—so that you can be your most grounded and powerful self all year long.

It’s really easy to work yourself up into a tizzy. One thought leads to another, and another, and next thing you know you’re spiraling down a rabbit hole of stressnegative thoughts, and sleepless nights. (Sound familiar?)

Maybe it stems from the fear of losing your job—your boss shows up in a bad mood, your fear kicks in, and your thoughts go wild. Suddenly you’re envisioning the moment the boss calls you into her office to fire you, then the moment you have to leave the office with your files packed up in a box, and finally how hard it’s going to be to pay all of your bills once you’re unemployed.

We have a choice when it comes to stress and negative thinking: We can proactively choose new thoughts.

But, let’s take a pause: All of this chaos was created in your mind based on one teeny, crazy idea you had. Besides the fact that your boss most likely showed up in a bad mood because of her own issue, this process happens all too often—with friends, with partners, in the face of big life-altering choices, and even during small, everyday conversations.

And most often, this anxiety we experience is based on imagined circumstance rather than reality. Psychologists have estimated that we have over 60,000 thoughts a day—with 95 to 99 percent of those thoughts repeated. Because of this repetition, we end up overanalyzing and become hooked into a fearful loop of thoughts that not only block us from the experience of peace, but also the true nature of real life.

Luckily, we have a choice when it comes to stress and negative thinking: We can proactively choose new thoughtsAnd while it take some practice and effort, it is so worth it.

Here’s how to deal with repetitive thoughts and break stress-inducing cycles. 

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Gabrielle Bernstein stress relief
Photo: StockSnap/Alice Donovan Rouse

Every time your mind starts to wander toward negativity, turn each thought over and reach for a higher, more loving perspective—one thought at a time.

Let’s use the job again as an example: Your boss comes to work in a bad mood and your fear of job loss is triggered. Instead of veering into crazy town immediately, reach for a positive perspective.

Your next thought can be something like: “I know that she might be in a bad mood, but it’s probably her own stuff. I’m going to send positive thoughts to my boss so she can release what’s pissing her off. I trust that my positive attitude and empowering approach to life will help me keep this job secure. I know I’m a great worker and that people love to be around me. I feel confident in my skills and I trust in my credentials. My job is secure. I am at peace. All is well.” 

Every time your mind starts to wander toward negativity, turn each thought over and reach for a higher, more loving perspective.

Although this process might not feel natural at first, this way of thinking is significantly more constructive and can change your entire life experience. As you shift your thoughts from negative to positive, your energy will raise, and your life will attract more desirable experiences. Trust in the power of your thoughts and take them very seriously.

In less than one minute, you can think your way out of stress and back to love—practice this exercise whenever you catch fear sneaking in.

The (Re)New Year series is not a “New Year, New You” program. (We think you’re pretty great as is!) Instead, we tapped the biggest and best influencers across the wellness space to help kick off the New Year in the best possible way. Between heart-racing workouts, DIY beauty recipes, and killer confidence advice, get ready to have your happiest and healthiest year yet.