As you know if you have been a regular reader of LIFEies, I only hang out with Batteries-Included people. I’ve had a number of readers ask, “What if you are a naturally negative or ‘reality based’ person?” Below is an article with a sound strategy for making a sustainable change to becoming more positive and a force for good. The author, Amy Morin, says the first step is to understand that negative thoughts are not helpful nor are they conducive to your overall wellbeing. It has been proven that consistent negative thinking can lead to mental illness and other ailments if left unattended for long periods of time. So what do you do if your first inclination is towards negativity?
First, recognize the negative thought or as Amy Morin calls them below “blue thought.”
Second, as soon as a BLUE thought pops into your head, immediately correct it with a TRUE thought. Here’s why — BLUE thoughts include negative actions. Excessive blaming – holding unreal expectations for yourself; Looking for bad news – dwelling on the bad; Unhappy guessing – foreseeing the future in a negative way; and Exaggeratedly negative thought. ALL these thoughts can build off one another starting with just one initial bad (BLUE) thought.
Third, change to a TRUE Thought — a positive thought that focuses on fact and action. TRUE thoughts should be focused on reality and what is true, not the rabbit hole you are chasing down with BLUE thoughts. TRUE thoughts dwell on the good in every situation no matter what else happened. One way is to ask yourself, “What would I tell a friend who had this problem?”
I would love to hear from you if this process works or doesn’t. Feel free to reach out.
Rule #10 from my book The Fantastic Life: Stay Out of the Gap
Start closing the gap between your negative reactions and your positive ones. By making small changes in the way you think and react, you’ll be able to close the gap for good.
The Beginner’s Guide to Recognizing and Changing Negative Thoughts
This strategy will help you recognize and replace the negative thoughts that can hold you back in life.
March 26, 2018
A pessimistic, dismal outlook can take a toll on your life in more ways than you might think. Research consistently links negative thinking to increased risk of mental health problems, physical health issues, relationship problems, and financial trouble.
But the good news is, everyone can learn how to combat negative thinking. As a cognitive behavioral therapist, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when people learn how to change their thought patterns. Not only do they feel better, but their behavior changes too.
Several years ago in my work as a psychotherapist, I learned about a simple but effective way to teach kids how to reframe their cognitive distortions. Developed by PracticeWise, the exercise teaches children to turn their BLUE thoughts into true thoughts.
I included this exercise in my book 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do as a way for parents to proactively help kids build mental strength. But I’ve received countless emails from parents saying that they not only are teaching the exercise to their kids, but they’re also using it on themselves.
It’s a simple yet effective way to change the way you think. And shifting your mindset is the first step in building mental strength.
How to Recognize BLUE Thoughts
BLUE is an acronym that stands for: blaming myself, looking for the bad news, unhappy guessing, and exaggeratedly negative. It represents the thoughts that are just too negative to actually be true. Here’s how to recognize BLUE thoughts:
- Blaming myself — While it’s important to take responsibility for your part, excessive self-blame isn’t productive. In fact, it’s been linked to mental health problems, like depression. Be on the lookout for times when you tell yourself that you’ve “ruined everything” or that something is “all your fault.”
- Looking for bad news — If nine good things and one bad thing happen in a day, it’s easy to focus on the one bad part. But dwelling on the negative will keep you stuck in a dark place. It’s important to step back and create a more balanced, realistic outlook.
- Unhappy guessing — Even though you have no idea what will happen tomorrow, you might predict doom and gloom. Whether you imagine that you’re going to embarrass yourself in a meeting or tell yourself that you’ll never get a promotion, unhappy guessing can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy if you’re not careful.
- Exaggeratedly negative — Telling yourself that the entire interview was a complete disaster or convincing yourself that everything about your job is terrible leads to a downward spiral. The more negatively you think, the worse you’ll feel. And the worse you feel, the less likely you are to take positive action.
Replace BLUE Thoughts With True Thoughts
Once you identify a BLUE thought, the goal is to replace it with a true thought. One of the best ways to do that is to ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this problem?”
So when you catch yourself thinking, “I’ll never save enough money for retirement,” you might respond by telling yourself, “I can create a clear plan for saving more money so I can afford to retire.”
Replacing your overly negative thoughts with more realistic statements can inspire you to take positive action–which is the key to creating the kind of life you want to live.
If you naturally err on the more pessimistic end of the spectrum, it will take some hard work to change your thoughts. But consider that hard work an investment. Studies show changing your thoughts physically alters your brain over time.
That means realistic thinking becomes like second nature over time. Your brain will start to view you and your abilities in a more realistic light.