Negative thinking can affect anyone, no matter how successful you are. We all are vulnerable to cognitive distortions which undermine our positive thoughts and feelings.
The possible cognitive distortions are:
- Personalization – blaming yourself for things going wrong
- Overgeneralization – assuming that is something has happened to you once, it will keep happening again
- Emotional reasoning – taking your feelings for facts
- Labeling – thinking that a single action or decision describes a person
- Disqualifying the positive – ignoring or writing off the good news
- Maximizing the negative – exaggerating every bad news you receive
- All or nothing thinking – trying to always be perfect, and beating yourself up when you are not
- Mental filter – focusing on the negative, while ignoring the broader and more positive context
- Jumping to conclusions – assuming you know what others are thinking
- Making up rules – creating “should” statements to motivate yourself, and end up feeling worse afterward. (e.g. “I should always help others when they ask for it”)
If you find yourself caught in negative thinking, you can try the following:
- Identify the negative thought that is bothering you.
- Assign this thought a percentage representing how much you trust it.
- Check if you have any of the cognitive distortions described above.
- Consider any alternative explanations, even if you don’t believe them.
- Look at the current situation as calmly as possible. Does it support your thoughts or are there more encouraging explanations?
- Ask yourself again how much percentage you believe that negative thought now. If it has dropped at all, it is an improvement worth noticing.
Using this strategy in the long-term can improve your positive thinking and make you feel happier. If you often think negative thoughts, you should try it and see if you feel better.
Do you have any other suggestions on how to reduce negative thinking? Leave them in the comment box below!
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