ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

4 Tips on Changing Negative Thoughts

Updated on January 3, 2018
Dr Bill Tollefson profile image

My passion is to inspire and coach people to achieve what they want to get out of life.


Held captive by your thoughts?

Are you enslaved by your thoughts? Do you feel you have no control over your thoughts? Are the majority of your thoughts negative in nature? Do negative thoughts seem to loop constantly in your head and eat away at your confidence? Sometimes these negative and self-limiting thoughts can stop you from experiencing happiness, peacefulness, and success in the moment therefore fulfilling and pleasurable moments will pass you by.

Looping thoughts or what I call thought addiction (TA) is a real condition. I have seen that dark thoughts can keep you captive in negativism and stuck in an endless loop of replaying past experiences or fearful predictions of what might happen in your future.

These types of looping thoughts that flash across your mind can be a barrier to your growth, happiness or success but if you shift to positive thoughts you can motivate, support and drive yourself toward success and happiness.

I came across a very interesting statistic from research that opened my mind even more understanding. A few years back the National Science Foundation estimated that a person produces nearly 50,000 thoughts a day. I feel that this is a very important statistic to understand how your thoughts influence and govern your actions and feelings in your everyday life. They can determine the direction of your life and how you react emotionally. So, one of the most important elements to improving your life is the content of your thoughts and whether we embrace them, ignore them or become overwhelmed by them.

Thinking can be Healthy or Unhealthy

It is very important to discover what the content of your thoughts are because it affects our health - emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Here are some things to think about. What if the majority of our thoughts, over 35,000 on average a day, were negative. Then how would your thoughts influence your behaviors, emotions, and reactions? Negatively of course.

Conversely, if the majority of our thoughts were positive how would you react and behave? Positively? Yes, I believe so!

"Thoughts cause feelings, feelings cause reactions and reactions manifest in behaviors.”

One thing to consider is if your thinking is negative then your life would be negative. Doesn't that make sense to you? Also, if the content of your thinking is negative or self-limiting then your subconscious will look for situations to associate with the way you are thinking and your feelings will follow. Basically, the content of thoughts directly manifests themselves into your life.

Count Your Negative Thoughts

How many negative thoughts do you have within a 15 minute?

See results

Take Your Thought Power Back

Empower yourself by understanding and identifying the problem

Sometimes you get caught in what is called a “thought loop”. In a thought loop, you feel as though you can't stop the thought or break loose from it. The longer it runs in your mind the more the thought can become a habit. As you know that a bad habit is an addiction. Addicted to a thought? Like everything in your life you can become addicted to all kinds of things; such as emotions, behaviors, and substances. Why not a thought? In fact, all addictions first start with a thought of some kind.

An example to help you understand thought looping would be like when we hear a familiar song and it gets stuck in our mind and it seems like the song will never stop playing. There is nothing you can do. Sometimes you can go to sleep and when you wake up it is still there playing in your head. The same thing can occur with a thought. These thoughts can be negative, self-limiting, and self-defeating as well as critical in nature. These thoughts can overpower your mental energy and hold your mind captive.


Do not think you are powerless with your thoughts or you will be. You have to change your mindset from one of controlling your thoughts to having the power of change over them. Don't attempt to control your thinking because the more you attempt to control your thinking the more out of control they will become. Then your thoughts will just loop in your mind and you will not have the ability to stop them.

Instead you need to empower yourself by taking command. Command is about earning respect. Many people get confused between control and command. Control infers lack of power and skill where command infers earning confidence and strength.

4 Tips on How to Change Negative Thoughts

You have the ability and power to shift your thoughts whether you realize it or not. All you need is to learn the skill. How? Here is 4 steps that can help you learn to accomplish shifting your thoughts from overwhelming repetitive thoughts (looping) to motivating and supportive thoughts. You have the power in your own mind. But taking back your power over your thoughts depends on your attitude. If your attitude is that you can't then you can't. Rather empower yourself with a positive "I can do" attitude.

Step #1 Stop

Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and just stop. Sit or stand still as you go through the next 3 steps.

Step #2 Change your posture and breath deeply

Straighten your back, close your eyes and take 4 deep breathes. With each inhalation concentrate on your stomach and as you take the air say "in" in your mind and when you exhale say "out" with all four breathes. When done with the four initial continue to breathe deeply and go to the next step.

Step #3 Create a positive thought

Be creative. Imagination is your inner power. Imagination in your mind that you are looking at a clear slate or white board. Think and create a positive thought you want to replace the negative, repetitive or overwhelming thought you have been having. Then write your new thought with a black Sharpie pen on that blank slate or white board that you imagined in your mind.

Step #4 Focus on the new thought you created

While keeping your eyes closed and vision your new thought you created in writing on your slate or white board. Keep focusing on the new thought you created and repeat 4 times out loud. Once you repeated it four time then open you eyes and it will be in effect.

Now go back to step one and repeat the steps to change the next negative thought you want to change. Before you know it the unwanted thoughts will be a thing of the past and you will be operating on new thoughts.

Thought Addiction Poll

Do you experience looping thoughts or not?

See results

© 2011 Bill Tollefson


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      4 years ago from Southwest Florida


      You are very welcome. I really appreciate your validation that this HUB has very useful tips for improving ones life and been helpful to you in your life. If you continue to work it you will be able to break bad thought patterns and achieve a new mindset.

      Thanks for letting me know how well the 4 tips have changed your life.

    • profile image

      Kate Malone 

      4 years ago

      Thank you. I have been practicing the 4 tips since last night. I did it a few times last night and twice so far today and it's already dinner time.

      Just the act of shifting my thoughts and seeing that it worked extremely well has helped me to wake up today still in a positive mind set and to actually be productive and enjoy my day for the first time in years.

      My thought addiction of constantly worrying about being in danger if I'm out of the house and having panic attacks thinking about leaving is totally gone overnight! Knowing that I can change the anxiety provociating thoughts actually has kept them at bay today. Your 4 tip skill set is definitely something that I will continue to practice in many areas of my life. Thanks for writing this HUB where I learned a simple tool that I'm really excited about. I say simple tool because it is very easy to allow oneself to do once we have the willingness to truly have a better life.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      4 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Hope that you practice the 4 tips and make them part of your life.

      Keep commenting as much as you want.

      Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Kate Malone 

      4 years ago

      You are very welcome! Thank YOU!!! Leave it to me to write "extensive comments." That's what I do! If I'm going to respond to something, you know I can't do it half-way! I LOVE the 4 tips that you have. Definitely taught me something new that I can continually practice. Great job!

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      4 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Hey Kate,

      Thanks very much for your extensive comments. I am sure your comments will help others because you are very insightful.

      I appreciate you views and taking the time to learn something new from this HUB.

      Blessings, Dr, Bill

    • profile image

      Kate Malone 

      4 years ago

      Phenomenal article on thought addiction! I know first-hand how my perception of myself and life in general is solely based upon my thoughts. Years ago you taught me how to reprogram the negative, false beliefs that I had about myself and I saw how much my life shifted for the better. I went from hating myself and having a tremendous amount of negative thoughts to actually loving myself and being kind and compassionate towards myself.

      As you know, several horrific experiences after that work allowed me to sub-consciously jump right back into those negative thoughts, as I was too consumed with simply trying to survive severe domestic violence. In the process of simply focusing on not losing my life, I abandoned the positive thoughts about myself and stopped doing the work that I needed to do in order to maintain my positive thoughts and positive self-talk.

      Your concept of thought addiction, which is brilliantly described in this article, is something that truly does exist. It seems so simple and obvious, yet so many people who work with survivors of trauma (therapists, psychiatrists, victim advocates, the police, State Attorneys, etc) reinforce negative thoughts in the individuals that they come across. Actually being able to understand why I falsely began to think poorly of myself after you recently taught me about Thought Addiction is dramatically helping me to begin to replace those false negative thoughts with the truth about myself -that I am not bad, broken, damaged, defective, or at fault for circumstances that were beyond my control.

      I wish that more helping professionals had knowledge about how thought addiction works, so that they can empower the people that they work with rather than reinforcing the false negative beliefs that come about from terrifying, life-threatening experiences. I am so glad that you wrote this article and continue to teach people how simple it really is to choose to have positive thoughts and a much more positive, fulfilling life. I feel so blessed to be able to work with you again and to begin to rapidly get rid of those severely limiting abuser values on an even deeper level.

      Keep up the phenomenal work that you do with clients as well as your life-changing articles. You are truly a blessing in my life and to this world in general. May you continue to be a beacon of light shining the truth on how our thoughts create our realities. God Bless you for all that you do. I know I would have given up long ago if it weren't for you and your brilliance. Thank you for everything Dr Bill. In just one month, several years of negativity is shifting for me and that is something that doesn't occur in "therapy" even after years. You are truly amazing!!!

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      7 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Hey kimh039 - Good to hear from you again. I have been real busy. Suggestion - go to my HUB on Thought Addiction Assessment. She can take it herself and score it then share with you. I sounds like that is what she is having. TA is a looping thought that gets stuck in ones mind and at times out of control. There are ways to shift these negative thoughts to positive.

      Thanks for you positive comments.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 

      7 years ago

      Hi Dr Bill,

      I was working with someone last week who was really having strong negative thoughts about a situation she had no control over. I was in the same situation and was frustrated myself, but I just couldn't go where she was going in her head!

      I saw your posts on LinkedIn and thought I'd pop over here. I haven't been around for awhile. You've been busy here! Good stuff. Thanks.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      7 years ago from Southwest Florida

      sunkentreasure - Thank you for sharing your words. The power behind your words are your thoughts. Keep thinking and empowering others.

    • sunkentreasure profile image


      7 years ago from RUIMSIG, SOUTH AFRICA


      Look for the beauty

      in everything you see.

      Walk in peace

      showing kindness


      The secrets of success

      are motivation

      and dedication

      Happiness is

      what you make happen

      for yourself.

      Caring is

      going to the ends of the world

      for a stranger.

      Be useful with your life.

      Whatever you are doing

      put your whole

      being into it 100%

      Loving is

      pleasing your loved one everyday

      in a 1000 different ways.

      Control your mind

      you are its master

      Be in control.

      Live your life

      without hurting or


      Believe in yourself.

      Have respect for yourself.

      Walk through life

      always with a song.

      © Bernard Levine

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      7 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Kathleen - Thanks for the validating comment. Become more empowered by commanding your thoughts rather than letting your thoughts control you.

    • profile image

      Kathleen Kerswig 

      7 years ago

      Thoughts are just so powerful. I recently posted an article about positive vs. negative thoughts about self. Thank you so much for this article. I'm looking forward to reading more of your hubs in the future.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      7 years ago from Southwest Florida

      femmeflashpoint - You are welcome. I love pulling things together. Please past this article on to your friends. Everyone needs a little mindfulness every now and then. Negative thinking enters into a lot of people, sometimes without their conscious awareness. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Dr. Bill,

      Like Boomer, I smiled when I saw you shared your insight on the diffs between control and command. I like that. :)

      I enjoyed the entirety of the article as well and think it's got some super-useful tools in it.

      I don't spend a great deal of time thinking negative. I feel rotten when I do. But, it might only take a small thought to produce a powerful emotion like worry, or sorrow to an extent that even if it only lasts for a moment, its enough to make it a catalyst in pulling negativity to us ...

      I'm not sure, but that makes sense to me.

      I have some friends that I think this hub will help a great deal.

      Thanks so much for the effort in putting it together!


    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      7 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Eiddwen - Thank you for your nice comment on this HUB article. I hope you read more of my HUBs and hope they help you to transform your thinking.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      I found this one so interesting and I now look forward to reading many more by you.

      Take care,


    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      7 years ago from Southwest Florida

      wysley - Thanks for your comments. I think it is important that people learn that there is a difference between control and command and command can be so more empowering.

    • wysley profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent article on thoughts and ways that actually work to break the cycle of negative thought patterns. A person can feel like they are working their hardest and giving it their all, but if their efforts are related to trying to control their thoughts, it's likely to end in frustration or any benefits not lasting long term. This only establishes the negative cycle even more as it can lead one to feel helpless or powerless. The idea of "command" vs "control" is a great distinction! Very glad you helped bring that to the fore and clarified the difference. Thanks.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      7 years ago from Southwest Florida

      BobbiRant - Thank you for your great comments. All of us get negative comments stuck in our head at one time or another in our lives and unfortunately we tend to believe them. The good thing is that we have the power to shift those thoughts to positive ones. Hope the tips helped. Let's empower our lives through resetting our thoughts.

    • BobbiRant profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      When I first came out of an abusive marriage, full of so many negative comments from an ex, I believed them for years. But each day, I looked in the mirror and told myself I am a good person. Pep talks to ourselves help us change negative thinking. Great hub!

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      7 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Thank you for your comment. Keep doing what helps you to stop your thought looping when you get caught in one.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      7 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      It only takes a split second to change your life by changing your thoughts. I have found that visualization helps me change my thoughts when they keep looping. I will visualize myself changing the video in my mind to a more desirable one and that helps.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      7 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Happyboomernurse - Thank you for your wonderful comments and your continued support. You know my passion is helping others and sharing my knowledge.

      I believe that many people think that control and command are the same. I have found out that they are not. I hope my tips on this HUB will help others to take command of their thoughts and therefore improve their lives.

      Your support means a lot to me. Blessings

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Great hub with some important information about thoughts that can help the reader improve his/her life. I particularly liked this suggestion:

      "Do not think we are powerless or we will be. Don’t attempt to control thinking because the more you attempt to control thinking the more out of control and power the loop has. Instead we need to empower ourselves by taking command."

      The difference between control, which has a negative connotation and command, which is empowering and builds confidence, made a lot of sense to me.

      Thanks for sharing another empowering hub that helps us change our thoughts, feelings and actions.

      Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting.

    • Dr Bill Tollefson profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Tollefson 

      7 years ago from Southwest Florida

      tigerblue72 - Thank you for your comment. I see that you can really identify with my subject. Many people struggle with the same problems as you. Medication tends to either slow down or speed up thoughts but does not help you forget it. The way to shift a thought is to replace one thought with another. It is a skill to learn and practice. Thanks again

    • tigerblue72 profile image


      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I will give it my best shot and keep trucking along, ty

    • tigerblue72 profile image


      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I just received the book The Power of Now from my father as a gift, in there is so much information. I have gotten lost, but have not been able to put it down. To be able to let go or shift gears off of a negative thought is extreemely difficult, or to even watch it, observe it and let it go by. My brain patterns are not wired as such, they are a non stop even while sleeping. I rarely sleep sound at night and has been that way for years, no matter what the doctors have put me on or how many or even the amount of milligrams they decide to increase them evry time I go.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)