Remember those scenes from The Exorcist where the priest tries to drive the ghost out of the possessed child? Driving away negative thoughts does not require as much effort, but it can be a severe battle. You cannot just tell them to be gone, but instead, you need to develop a longstanding strategy for driving them away and keeping them out for good.

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#1: Admit you have a problem. It can be downright impossible to do self-reflection on this topic because we often do not pay attention to our own words or body language. One helpful way to gauge your level of self-defeatist attitude and negativity is to create a chart with two sides. On one side, write down all your positive thoughts that day. On the other, write down all your negative thoughts. You will be amazed by how much negativity the average person keeps in their head.

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#2: Exercise. Getting your body moving is great for changing your mood and your thoughts. You do not have to run a marathon or swim across the English Channel to make that kind of change…you can step up, take a walk, do some jumping jacks, or dance. That is right…dance. Try turning on your favorite music and moving and grooving for a few minutes; see if you feel negative afterward.

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#3: Practice Gratitude. If making a list of your thoughts was the first step to recognizing your negativity problem, building a positive list could be the first step toward solving it. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for. Having trouble producing a list? How about your breath, your pulse, your sight, and all the other necessary amenities we take for granted? Once you start writing your list out, and you will find that it snowballs and fills your mind with positivity.

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#4: Talk about it. Find a friend, family member, therapist, or helpful ear to listen to your problems without judgment and without recommendation (unless you want it). You could also pray, journal, or craft an art project around your feelings. Once they are out there, you will find yourself strangely (perhaps magically is a better word) unburdened by negative thinking.

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#5: Change your language. Take stock of the vocabulary and phrases you use, as you did in point #1. Eliminate negative phrases and words from your lexicon, and watch your thoughts change as well. It would help if you also took note of your body language and posture. Avoid slouching, and above all smile!

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