Don't Let Your Negative Thoughts Control You

December 5, 2013 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Negative thoughts and self-talk are harmful to building self-esteem and confidence. Learn to use a thought log to get rid of unhelpful negative thoughts.

Your negative thoughts are very powerful. Think of a snowball rolling down a steep hill, the more traction it gains, the more likely it will turn into an avalanche of snow. The same is true for negative thoughts. That tiny moment of "I can't", "I suck", "I should be...", can start the snowball effect in your mind. Negative thoughts can affect your entire day and life if you let it.

Negative Thoughts Erode Self-Esteem

Negative self-talk or beliefs about yourself can be detrimental to building self-esteem and confidence. These thoughts are like a bully in your brain. They continue to beat you up until you are too tired to talk back.

Perhaps the beliefs have been around for your whole life, making the bully even stronger. Anxiety-filled or depression-fueled behaviors can also be an example of how this bully works, making you feel less control and more stuck in your symptoms.

How To Use A Thought Log

There are ways to get rid of these unhelpful negative thoughts. One of the most effective tools is a version of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Thought Log. This week's vlog explains how to make an easy and effective thought log to challenge negative thinking and shift into a more positive frame of mind.

Remember, the first column is the negative thought or belief. Make it simple, one at a time. The second column asks you to validate this thought; why its true or feels true, what in the past has made it true for you. The third column is the facts; why is this belief not true.

Use these thought challenges to help you:

  • Is this thought always true? Is there a time that it wasn't?
  • How likely is this going to occur?
  • What advice would I tell a friend if she was thinking this?
  • How is this thought serving me? Is it more of a bully and just trying to be mean?
  • What are smaller reasons why or evidence that shows its not entirely true?
  • Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
  • Is this an interpretation or is it a thought based on logic or facts?

Try these and good luck!

More Articles on How to Control Negative Thoughts

  1. 8 Negative Thoughts That Manipulate Your Mind
  2. Let Go of Limiting Beliefs
  3. Get Out of Your Head and Improve Self-Esteem

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2013, December 5). Don't Let Your Negative Thoughts Control You, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

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pamela alekana
June, 30 2015 at 8:01 am

Thanks a lot for i had found it a bit expensive going to a psychologist. but after finding this article very educative.

pamela alekana
June, 30 2015 at 7:35 am

it was good sharing with us issues brought by negative thoughts.

April, 24 2015 at 9:41 am

Thank you for writing this article. I try to be/stay positive but it is a struggle every damn day. Some days I just don't have the energy to fight my negative thoughts and I end up sinking deeper into a pit of despair that's harder to get out of than it is to get into...

Jim Pulley
January, 20 2014 at 5:52 pm

I agree that positive thought processes do lead to better mental health. But for me, it is the negative thoughts that so quickly can send me down into the pit. One thing I do is to imagine the worst and then make sure that I am prepared for it. I am not always prepared for it. And then there is genetics. Scientists have uncovered a gene that causes a person to react more netatively to negatives, and on the other hand, they react to positive things more positively than the average person. I know I have that gene. All of you psychologists out there will have to accommodate new ideas into your theraputive(sp)stance. For years you have ignored the brain. How about someone coming up with a depression meter to accurately measure the depth to which a person finds themselves? Will it be done by a psychologist or a psychiatrist who, by the way, are full fledged medical doctors?

December, 25 2013 at 2:45 pm

yes , i was living in the dark because of the negatives thoughts until i read a book that was a big benefit to me.

December, 16 2013 at 9:24 am

I think your video on the thought log is great but I feel that writing down the negative is affirming the negative. My log doesn't say why the holidays suck for example but it states what's so great about them. I don't like the holidays and they are depressing to me but instead if saying all that sucks I state all the good. By writing it down you're affirming it and making it real so writing "I suck" is a negative affirmation so its better to write " I am wonderful and happy"

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 16 2013 at 12:36 pm

I am glad to see you focusing on the positives- this is great! I see where you are coming from and in order to validate the roots of the negative thinking pattern we cant ignore them. Validating some of the reasons you believe it to be true will help take away power from the negative thought. You are right, affirm the positives, and this can be down more effectively when we get the thought on paper. We are trying to get rid of the power these thoughts have over you, remember they are tricky, so identifying how they creep up (say at a holiday party or during time alone during the holidays) is also important because you are better able to cope ahead or recognize who is talking, the bully or your best friend in your brain. Please keep up the positive affirmations and statements, if writing the negatives makes it harder for you, don't write them down, but do think of how they came to hold this much power. Have a happy holiday and thank you for sharing. I look forward to hearing your awesome affirmations!

Penny Lane
December, 11 2013 at 1:46 pm

Most waking hours, my "brain bully" replays comments that people have said which keeps me stuck in this painful paralysis. I have a compulsion to tell ppl, to "clear" it out of my brain. I dont wanna feed the bully. I think its more believable in my mind since others have actually told me these words. I'm not sure how to let all of these replaying horrible tracks go. This cycle is seriously keeping me from life. Why is it easier to believe the bad stuff? Why do i replay it? and how can i delete it, and prevent new ones replaying?????

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 11 2013 at 1:53 pm

Hi Penny, you are not alone, most of us play the negative tracks in our heads because its easier, we have been conditioned to think this way. Positive thinking takes more energy, at first... Just like learning to do something new, ride a bike, learn a new language the first few steps are the hardest. Then it will become almost second nature. The way out of it is to slowly and purposefully talk back to the thoughts. Even if others told you those things, you don't have to believe them. You can find logic and facts that disprove them. Also the more you notice the negative talk and statements, the more you can counteract them with a positive statement. For example, "I look horrible" can be responded to with a positive , "but I like the way my hair looks or I do like this shirt and others have complemented me on it before." The goal is not to do think it all has to be done at once but slowly gaining POWER over the bully in your brain. Good Luck!

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