Why Do Negative Thoughts Keep Coming Back in Your Mind?

woman thinking

It is only natural that sometimes you find yourself hopeful and full of joy, only to find the following days full of insecurity and exhaustion. People experience different emotions every day, depending on what triggers them. 

It helps to be mindful of the negative thoughts that keep occurring in your head, especially if they happen continuously and regularly. Apart from it being unhealthy to let these thoughts fester without understanding them, the situation could worsen eventually.   

What Is Rumination?

The process when a person thinks about the same dark or sad thought continuously is called rumination. Doing this over a prolonged period can later lead to depression. It can also affect the way you think and process your emotions. 

One typical example of this that many people can relate to is believing they are not worthy or thinking they are meant to fail. When you get anxiety attacks and convince yourself that something terrible might happen to your loved ones, you could also suffer from rumination. 

Researchers from the University of Arizona decided to better understand the impact of negative rumination through their studies and experiments. In their research, they let 78 participants stay inside a room without any gadgets. They asked them to speak about random thoughts for around ten minutes. All these thoughts were gathered and then analyzed later. 

Here are some of the study results they come up with:

  • People who share negative thoughts during the ten-minute experiment have had this mindset for quite a while now, even longer than optimistic people. From this, researchers can safely assume that negative rumination can trigger more negative thoughts down the road. 
  • On the one hand, the more negative the thoughts are, the narrower the scope of their thinking becomes.
  • On the other hand, people with happier and joyful thoughts tend to become more creative, adventurous, and innovative. They also have a broader mindset than negative thinkers. In short, they have a higher chance of diverting their thoughts into something fun. 

How to Stop Thinking About Negative Thoughts

Reasons vary from person to person. It is essential to examine the person’s idle thoughts to give them a suitable method of dealing with their thought processes. The great news is that people can do this independently, and the older the person gets, the more control they have over this. 

As a start, people only need to observe their thoughts and the pattern it goes through. Only then can they learn how to break the cycle. A little observation can also help them understand themselves better. 

Here are some activities you can try that would help you break the pattern of negative thinking:

  • Meditate. Breathe and let go of the things that bother you.
  • Determine the real problems. Instead of overthinking, take small actions to resolve them. 
  • Assess how you see things, particularly your negative thoughts or expectations of others. Check how else you can improve that. 
  • Sometimes, you are responsible for surrounding yourself with unhealthy goals that eventually hurt your self-esteem. Try to rephrase them or think of other ways to improve how you see yourself. Letting go of unrealistic expectations also helps. The key is to help yourself be kinder to yourself. 


Rumination is real, and it happens to all age groups. What is worse is how it can impact people’s mental health. Make sure that you examine your thinking patterns and seek help immediately. Doing the mentioned activities above can also help you improve your mood. 

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