In "The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking" Lesley Alderman writes about how "... constant negativity can also get in the way of happiness, add to our stress and worry level and ultimately damage our health ...". He quotes psychologist Rick Hanson, "We were built to overlearn from negative experiences, but under learn from positive ones."
- Don't try to stop the negative thoughts — that tends to cause more worry and obsession. Instead, gently observe, acknowledge, and accept.
- Question the negative thoughts — challenge them, and view them from another perspective. Experiment with Socratic questioning: "Imagine that your friend is the one who received the bad news. What advice would you give him or her? Now think of how that advice might apply to you."
- Analyze potential consequences if the negative thoughts are true — don't extrapolate to an extreme outcome. Consider all possibilities, including neutral and ultimately positive results.
- Take action to counteract the negative thoughts — talk with friends, make a list of options, ask other people to help, ask yourself what you can do, and work to calm yourself.
- Seek professional help if the negative thoughts are overwhelming — therapists, counselors, and possibly medication may be useful.
- Feel compassion toward yourself and your negative thoughts — try to forgive.