What Is Negative Thinking & Why Eliminate It?


What are negative thoughts? And why are they worth eliminating?

These are excellent questions to ask, because if you want to stop thinking negatively, it's important to first understand what types of thoughts you're trying to eliminate and why.

Understanding negative thinking

Negative thinking is a way of thinking that doesn't benefit you at all. Sometimes, it even has an immediate negative impact on your life, since it can contribute to things like stress, anxiety, and depression.

More specifically, you can think of negative thinking as being a way of thinking that:



For example, let's say that you're sad, miserable, or depressed, and you want to be happy. The negative thought 'I can't become happy' will naturally work against you and make it more challenging for you to become happier.

Here's why.

  • When you think, 'I can't become happy', and you believe it, you are naturally less confident in yourself and your abilities
  • You are also naturally less motivated and energized to take action to achieve greater happiness, since you believe you can't achieve it
  • The result is that you predictably have less success becoming happy, and that you naturally find it 'hard' or 'impossible' to become happier due to the negative effects of this thought


Continuing with our example, if you feel sad, depressed, or unhappy, the negative thought 'I can't become happy' will naturally make you feel worse.

Here's why.

  • When you think, 'I can't become happy', and you believe it, you naturally feel weaker, helpless, and less capable, so you already feel worse that way 
  • You also naturally have less confidence in yourself and your abilities; this leads to a lower sense of self worth, as well as less peace of mind, since you believe that you can't do anything about your situation
  • This means that simply accepting and thinking the negative thought 'I can't become happy' already naturally makes you feel worse in many different ways; in this way, it actively contributes to feelings of sadness, unhappiness, and depression


Once again, for our example, the moment you believe and accept the negative thought 'I can't become happy', it's already making it more challenging for you to become happier, especially since it's already making you feel worse in many different ways.

It's important to appreciate that:

  • This makes such a negative thought useless to you, since it doesn't serve any beneficial purpose and will only cause you to feel worse
  • The negative effects of a negative thought like this one are immediate, since the moment you think the thought it's already affecting you in some way
  • When you consider how negative thoughts like this don't help you improve your life, and, indeed, make it more challenging for you to do so, it is both sensible and intelligent to deliberately eliminate negative thoughts for your own good


Click on any negative quality for an example of how negative thinking works.

With these negative qualities, negative thinking doesn't help you in any way. Instead, it often works against you and makes your life worse.

This makes it the opposite of useful positive ways of thinking that help you in life.

Negative thinking is useless, not 'wrong'

The most common reasons for getting rid of negative thinking are that it often makes you feel bad, makes you less confident, and makes you less successful in life.

The overall defining characteristic of negative thinking is that it is useless and doesn't improve your life in any way (or even immediately makes it worse). 

However, this does not mean that negative thinking is the 'wrong' way to think. Only that it's useless for improving your life, and that it doesn't make very much sense to do, especially when you consider that you can think in other ways. 

Is the glass half full or half empty?

To understand this, consider the classic example of looking at a glass, and thinking of it as either half full or half empty. 

It's neither right nor wrong to look at the glass as either half full or half empty. 

However, if looking at the glass as half full naturally makes you feel happier, while looking at the glass as half empty naturally makes you feel depressed, then what is the sense in looking at the glass as half empty?

Negative thinking is not very sensible

For this example, if you want to be happy, it makes no sense at all to look at the glass as half empty rather than half full. After all, this is a useless, self-destructive, and completely counter-productive thing to do.

Even if it's a completely valid and acceptable way of thinking, so what? It's still not sensible.

This example captures the essence of what eliminating negative thinking is all about: getting rid of thinking that is useless, non-beneficial, and counter-productive (and, therefore, not very sensible, no matter how 'valid' the thought might be).

Frequently asked questions about negative thinking

Click on each question to learn more.


  1. What is a negative attitude?  

There are many different ways to talk about negative thinking.

People talk about having a negative attitude, negative perceptions, developing a negative outlook or a negative focus, engaging in negative self talk, slipping into negative thinking patterns and automatic negative thoughts, and so on.

And then there is the idea of a negative mindset, which you can think of as being a collection of some negative thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and so on.

In a sense, these all mean the same thing. Because at the end of the day, when people are talking about negative thinking, they are talking about ways of thinking that hinder you from improving your life.

And the basic idea is always the same: negative thinking never helps you and often works against you, so you're always better off without it.


  1. Is negative thinking a disease?  

No, negative thinking is not a disease, and it is not contagious.

Just think about it: is it a disease to look at a glass as half empty rather than half full?

Of course not! It's simply one way of looking at a glass.

Indeed, it's even a valid, acceptable way of looking at a glass. There isn't anything 'wrong' or 'sick' about it.

But here's the thing: if looking at the glass as half empty tends to make you anxious, stressed, or depressed, it isn't doing you any favors, and it's even working against you. So you're clearly better off without it.

So, for this reason, it is in your best interest to learn how to change your thinking so that you don't think negatively anymore.

It is both important and helpful to take this clear, level-headed approach to negative thinking so that you don't become afraid of negative thoughts. 

Always recognize that you are far more powerful than any negative thought, because you have the power to change the way you think and get rid of negative thoughts. It's simply a matter of learning how to do it, and then doing it.


  1. How long does it take to get rid of negative thinking?  

So, let's say you've decided that you want to stop thinking negatively.

How long does it take to eliminate a negative thought, and to be free of its negative effects on your life?

Here's some great news: the moment you eliminate a negative thought, you also immediately eliminate its negative effect on your life. 

So, very often, you can notice an immediate improvement in your life, that is similar to the way in which your life immediately improves in every way the moment a headache goes away.

Now, if you don't know how to get rid of negative thinking, it will seem hard or impossible for you to stop thinking negatively.

But once you learn what causes negative thinking and how to get rid of negative thoughts step by step, it becomes very easy.

Even better, you can use the Positive Thinking Tool which will help you eliminate any negative thought in 5 minutes or less. So this is how fast you can change your thinking and change your life for the better.


  1. How do I know if my thinking is negative or not?  

Back to the basics: what is the meaning of negative thinking?

If you're thinking negatively, it simply means that you're thinking in a useless way that doesn't benefit you at all. That's all that is meant by it.

So, to determine whether you're thinking negatively, you can ask yourself the same 3 Questions For Positive Thinking:

  • Does this way of thinking help me achieve something I want?
  • Does this way of thinking make me feel good or help me feel better?
  • Is this way of thinking useful, and does it immediately improve my life in some way?

If you ask yourself the three questions, and you don’t get a 'yes' for each answer, then you know that you’re dealing with a type of thinking that you can replace with something better and more useful.

Negative thinking is simply a type of thinking that you can replace with something better and more useful. That’s all it ever is!

Of course, if you ask yourself the 3 questions, and you conclude that your thinking stops you from achieving the things you want to achieve, makes you feel miserable, and adds negative value to your life, you know without a doubt that you’re dealing with negative thinking.


  1. What are some examples of negative thinking?  

Considering examples of negative thinking can be the best way of understanding why one way of thinking is negative or not.

If this is something that interests you, see this list of negative thoughts

Each one of these thoughts is an example of negative thinking that works against you, and there is a clear explanation for why each thought doesn't benefit you as well as why it doesn't make sense to think the thought.



Learn more about negative thinking

Already, you have learned what negative thinking is, how to identify it, and how you are always better off without it. This is a lot of powerful knowledge already.

The next step, for you, is to learn more about the impact of negative thinking, beyond the 3 primary negative effects, and why it's in your best interest to get rid of negative thoughts, since you have a choice in how you think.

(If you're already itching to get rid of a negative thought that's been bothering you, use the Positive Thinking Tool, which helps you eliminate any negative thought in 5 minutes or less.)




Free Positive Thinking Webinar





Section 1 Lessons


  1. What is positive thinking & how does it work?
  2. What are the benefits of positive thinking?
  3. What is negative thinking & why eliminate it?
  4. What is the impact of negative thinking?

Next Section In The Positive Thinking Course


Section 2