Thursday, May 7, 2015

How To Thinks Positively (2)

Combating Negative Thoughts

Identify your automatic negative thoughts. In order to shift away from the negative thinking that is holding you back from having a positive outlook, you'll need to become more aware of your "automatic negative thoughts". When you recognize them, you're in a position to challenge them and give them their marching orders to move right out of your head.a
  • An example of an automatic negative thought is, upon hearing that you have an upcoming test, you think, “I’ll probably fail it.” The thought is automatic because it’s your initial reaction to hearing about the test.
Challenge your negative thoughts. Even if you have spent most of your life thinking negatively, you don’t have to continue being negative. Whenever you have a negative thought, particularly an automatic negative thought, stop and evaluate whether the thought is true or accurate.

  • One way to challenge negative thoughts is to be objective. Write down the negative thought and think about how you would respond if someone else said the thought to you. It’s likely that you could offer an objective rebuttal to someone else’s negativity, even if you find it difficult to do for yourself.
  • For example, you may have the negative thought, “I always fail tests.” It is unlikely that you would still be in school if you always fail tests. Go back through your files or grades and find tests that you received a passing grade on; these challenge the negative thought. You may even find that you have tests that you passed with As and Bs, which would further confirm that your negativity is exaggerated.
Replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Once you're feeling confident that you can spot and challenge negative thoughts, you're ready to make active choices about replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. This doesn't mean that everything in your life will always be positive; it’s normal to have a variety of emotions. However, you can work to replacing the daily unhelpful thinking patterns with thoughts that help you to flourish.
  • For example, if you have the thought, “I will probably fail the test,” stop yourself. You’ve already identified the thought as negative and evaluated its accuracy. Now try replacing it with a positive thought. A positive thought doesn’t have to be blindly optimistic, such as “I will definitely get a 100 on the test, even if I don’t study.” It can be something as simple as, “I am going to take time to study and prepare so I do as well on the test as I can.”
Minimize external influences that stimulate your negativity. You may find that certain kinds of music or violent video games or movies influence your overall attitude. Try minimizing your exposure to stressful or violent stimuli and spend more time listening to calming music or reading. Music benefits your mind really well and books on positive thinking can provide good tips for being a happier person.

Avoid "black-and-white thinking." In this type of thinking, also known as “polarizing,” everything you encounter either is or it isn't; there are no shades of gray. This can lead people to feel as though they have to do something perfectly or not at all.
  • To avoid this type of thinking, embrace the shades of gray in life. Instead of thinking in terms of two outcomes (one positive and one negative), make a list of all of the outcomes in between to see that things aren't as dire as they seem.
  • For example, if you have a test coming up and don’t feel comfortable with the subject matter, you may be tempted to not take the test or to not study for it at all, so if you fail, it’s because you didn’t even try. However, this is ignoring the fact that you’re likely to do better if you spend more time preparing for the test.
    • You should also avoid thinking that the only outcomes of your test-taking are an A or an F. There is a lot of “gray area” between the A and the F.
Avoid "personalizing". Personalizing is making the assumption that you are personally to blame for anything that goes wrong. If you take this type of thinking too far, you can get paranoid and think that no one likes you or wants to hang out with you, and that every little move you make is going to disappoint someone.
  • Someone who is personalizing may think, "Betty didn't smile at me this morning. I must have done something to upset her." However, it's more likely that Betty was just having a bad day, and her mood had nothing to do with you.
Avoid "filter thinking." This is when you choose to only hear the negative side of a situation. Most situations have elements that are both good and bad, and it helps to recognize both. If you think this way, then you'll never see the positive in any situation.
  • For example, you may take a test and receive a C, along with feedback from your teacher saying that your performance improved greatly from the last test. Filtering can cause you to only think negatively about the C and ignore the fact that you have shown improvement and growth.
Avoid "catastrophizing." This is when you assume that the worst possible outcome is going to happen.[14] Catastrophizing is usually related to anxiety about performing poorly. You can combat catastrophizing with being realistic about possible outcomes of a situation.
  • For example, you might think that you’re going to fail an exam you’ve been studying for. A catastrophizer will then extend that insecurity to assume that you’ll then fail the class and have to drop out of college, then end up unemployed and on welfare. If you’re realistic about negative outcomes, you’ll realize that even if you were to fail a test, it’s unlikely that you would necessarily fail the course, and you would not have to drop out of college.
Visit a peaceful place. It can help to have a personal escape when you need to turn your attitude around. Many people find that spending a little time outdoors improves their mood.[15]
  • If your workplace has an outdoor area with benches or picnic tables, schedule yourself a little down time to be outside and refresh yourself.
  • If you are unable to physically visit an outdoor peaceful place, try meditating and visiting a pleasant outdoor area with perfect weather in your mind.[16]

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