In a research conducted by the Department of Psychology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, researchers found that clearing negative thoughts can be as simple as writing them down and physically throwing them away.
Several experiments were conducted where participants were asked to write down positive or negative thoughts about their body image. Half of the participants threw away paper they had written on and the other half kept them.
The participants were then asked to rate their attitudes to their bodies on a standard scale. The researchers found that the negative thoughts of the participants who threw the papers away had no impact on them and that those who had kept the papers reflected their negative perceptions of themselves on the scale.
“At some level, it can sound silly. But we found that it really works — by physically throwing away or protecting your thoughts, you influence how you end up using those thoughts,” study researcher Richard Petty, of Ohio State University (also involved in the study), said in a statement. “Merely imagining engaging in these actions has no effect.”
Petty continued “Of course, even if you throw the thoughts in a garbage can or put them in the recycle bin on the computer, they are not really gone — you can regenerate them. But the representations of those thoughts are gone, at least temporarily, and it seems to make it easier to not think about them.”