How to think more positively
‘Think more positively, you’ll feel better’
We’ve all heard this before, and it’s undeniable that positive thinking can help us to meet our goals. But simply telling yourself to be positive is more easily said than done, especially if you’re struggling with negative thoughts and feelings.
So here are a few simple tips on how to think positively.
Beware the thinking traps
One way to tackle unhelpful thoughts – and make way for more positive ones – is to understand a bit more about ‘thinking traps’. Thinking traps are easy to fall into. But they can hinder our achievements and cause a great deal of distress.
Here are two of the common negative thinking traps:
Thinking trap 1: Mind reading
‘Mind reading’ is a very common thinking trap. It occurs when we assume we know what others are thinking about us. Examples may include: “My colleagues think I’m incompetent”, “My mother in law doesn’t think I’m good enough” or “everyone is judging me”.
When you catch yourself feeling like this, think about what the other person/people did to bring you to this conclusion. Then consider whether this gives you enough evidence to make such a strong statement.
Thinking trap 2: Black and white thinking
‘Black and white thinking’ is the kind of thought that contains words like ‘always’ or ‘never’. For example, “I always mess up”, or “People never appreciate me”. It also includes extreme or blanket statements like “I’m useless”.
Life, however, is never black and white. Mostly it’s shades of grey. We all mess up sometimes, but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we’re appreciated, sometimes we’re not. When you find yourself having negative thoughts that include words like “always” or “never”, see it as a warning sign of black and white thinking.
Ask yourself whether there are actually shades of grey in the issue. If you were seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes, would you make a similar statement about them? It’s unlikely that you would.
As well as tackling unhelpful thoughts like these, there are some other simple self-care strategies which might help boost your positivity.
Set a goal
If your self-esteem needs a boost, try taking part in challenging but rewarding activities like writing, making things, playing sport or taking an evening class. Setting goals – no matter how small – and achieving them has been shown to boost our happiness.
Increase your pleasurable activities
Making time for pleasurable activities is also important, whether that’s socialising with your friends, enjoying some music or spending time with your pets.
Leisure pursuits can be seen as a bit of a luxury for those of us with busy lives, but remember, they’re a necessary part of self-care.
Know when to get a helping hand
It’s possible to break negative thinking patterns with some simple techniques. But if you need a bit of extra support, it’s OK to ask for help. Unhelpful thoughts can affect our feelings, relationships and achievements. So if you’re feeling depressed, talk to your GP.
You may also benefit from our module ‘Tackling Unhelpful Thinking’. It’s available now in our app. It shows us how to spot all the common thinking traps, and how to avoid getting stuck in them. Simple activities, tips and case studies will equip you with the tools you need to break negative thinking cycles.
To get the app, download it from the App Store, Google Play or via desktop at www.mypossibleself.com. It contains clinically proven content to help you stress less, worry less and think more positively.