December 7, 2012
Last Updated:
March 4, 2021

Holding On To Negative Thoughts? Throw Them Away!

Did you ever wish that you could take all of your negative thoughts and feelings and put them in the garbage? Well, a new study from Ohio State University says that you can!

Certain psychological therapies already ask patients to write down their negative thoughts on paper and then toss it, but now proof is in the research that it works. To verify it, researchers conducted three experiments. In the first, 83 high school students were told to write down their thoughts – positive or negative – about their body image.

What happened next? Half of the participants were asked to throw away their thoughts and the other half were asked to read it over for grammatical mistakes. After rating their own attitudes about their bodies on a 9-point scale, the students who read over their thoughts had strong opinions on their body image, while the students who threw away their thoughts were indifferent on how they felt about their body image. 

Study author Richard Petty says, “This suggests you can magnify your thoughts, and make them more important to you, by keeping them with you.”

More so, the study found that it made no difference if the thoughts were physically thrown away in the trash or virtually on their computer. If participants, for example, saved their thoughts on a computer document in a folder, it was still in their minds.

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The finding suggests that people can treat their thoughts as material, concrete objects, Petty says.  "The more convinced the person is that the thoughts are really gone, the better…Just imagining that you throw them away doesn't seem to work.”

This amazing news perhaps isn’t surprising. So much of your happiness is a state of mind that you can cultivate through a regular gratitude practice, mindful thinking and meditation, and finding your spirituality. That’s why these habits are essential forms of primary food that are as crucial to your health as the food that you eat.

How do you deal with your negative thoughts?

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