4 Ways To Stop Negative Thinking

August 4th, 2013 by LaRae Quy

The only four letter word I never heard in my twenty-four year career as an FBI agent was “quit.” No matter how tough the training got, or hard a case was to solve, or the size of the obstacle in front of me, I found ways to stop negative thinking dead in its tracks. 

Overcoming obstacles and breaking through barriers is what an FBI agent is trained to do. It begins in the FBI Academy and continues through our career. We stop negative thinking by learning how to say yes to the unknown so we could keep moving forward.

Successful entrepreneurs and business owners also need to learn how to stop negative thinking when the economy spirals downward or competition snatches a portion of the market.

Here are four tips to keep in mind to stop negative thinking:

1. Be Mindful Of How Powerful Your Words Are

The words you use are important. Words originate in the brain and they have a lot of power because they energize our thoughts. Words are thoughts spoken out loud. The words we say to ourselves can either inspire or destroy, depending on what our brain hears.

When you think you can’t accomplish a goal and want to quit, your brain puts barriers around achieving the goal; often these are no more than self-limiting barriers because you’ve told yourself you can’t do it.

2. Stop Using The Word No

Researchers have determined that when you see the word NO for less than a second, your brain releases dozen of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These are the chemicals that interrupt the normal functioning of the brain and impair our logic.

Now, if you say the word NO, even more stress chemicals are released into your brain—and not just your brain, but into the brain of the listener as well.

The word NO and other negative messages interfere with the decision making centers of the brain, often causing a person to act irrationally. Mental toughness is being able to interrupt this flow of chemicals into the brain.

3. Intentionally Choose To Be Positive

We’ve all been in tough situations where it’s hard to stop negative thinking. Turns out that we have to intentionally choose to be positive because we all have an innate bias toward negativity. We process bad news faster than good news because our limbic brain system is survival driven. This explains why we’re driven to avoid losses far more than we’re driven to pursue gains.

The brain rarely responds to positive words and thoughts. That’s because they’re not a threat to our survival so the brain doesn’t need to respond as rapidly as it does with negative thoughts and words. To overcome this natural bias toward negativity, we have to repeatedly and consciously generate as many positive thoughts as we can.

Researchers have discovered that to overcome an obstacle or break a barrier, you will need to generate at least five positive responses to counter each negative one.

Chose your words wisely and speak them slowly. This allows you to interrupt your brain’s natural inclination to be negative so you can stop negative thinking.

4. Create New Brain Connections

When we reinforce a way of thinking, either new connections are formed or old ones are strengthened. So, when you maintain a strong mind that knows how to stop negative thinking, these connections become more durable and easier to activate.

This is a tremendous concept, because it shows us how we can change our behavior. When we use the word yes, we are training our brain to make positive patterns more automatic. Since your brain is listening to everything you think about yourself, you might as well start using words that inspire and expand your vision of your life.

Mental toughness is positive thinking on steroids. When confronted with obstacles and adversity, mental toughness is saying “Yes” to the Unknown!

How do you stop negative thinking?

© 2013 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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10 Responses to “4 Ways To Stop Negative Thinking”

  1. TJ Trent says:


    Great article backed up by powerful research. As far as being mentally tough. I always tell myself that where there is a will there is a way.

  2. Here’s something I just did recently.

    My wife and I purchased new phones, the Galaxy S4. The phone comes preloaded with a message saying Life Companion on the lock screen. That just didn’t seem to cut it for me.

    So, I have begun to edit the messages every couple of days to bring me words of inspiration and positivity. Currently, I’m having my phone tell me that You Rock.

    It’s simple and silly but it’s been helping me create a more positive image about myself.

  3. I am a great believer in fate. I believe everything that happens to us happens for a reason. I’m always looking for the lessons. A negative is a positive because it’s a learning opportunity. You need to take the opportunity to learn the lesson and then move forward. Enjoyed reading your post. As you noted – when you change the behavior you change the result. Adults can learn new things. You can rewire the brain. Love that line “mental toughness is positive thinking on steroids” Looking forward to reading your book – Cheers

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Hi Brian

      You and I think alike! Too often, adults think they can’t change the way they think….all it takes is a little and the right perspective. So glad you stopped by!

  4. Terri Klass says:

    A terrific post, LaRae as you continue your support of positive thinking and mental toughness! I particularly liked your focus on stop using the word, “no” because it does send us down a road of defeat. I believe in the Little Engine That Could’s philosophy- If we think we can do it, we can! Our minds do have so much control over our actions. Thanks!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Hi Terri

      I just love that little engine with the positive attitude! Our minds are so powerful…..and it can unlock all the potential that we have inside if we just let it. As always, I really appreciate you, Terri. You bring a breath of fresh air into every conversation……

  5. LaRae – Thank you for another great post!

    I so appreciate all of your posts on Mental Toughness and a Strong Mind. The really awesome part is that the secrets are easy to understand and with some focus and discipline so transformational!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Hi Chery

      The secrets to mental toughness and a strong mind are easy to understand! Focus and discipline are key components…thanks for all your support. It’s much appreciated!

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