10 Ways to Change Your Negative Thinking

These pictures were not taken on a good day. In fact, they were taken on a day that started out negative and only got worse. Contrary to my naturally upbeat personality, I am a pessimist and a negative thinker. This is probably the biggest part of myself that I'm always working on (next to my temper). 

The happiness in these pictures is genuine however, and this is due to the work and effort I put into changing my thoughts. I was able to come out of my funk and enjoy the rest of my day thanks to numerous factors. While I think some ways to change our thinking is obvious or stated often (get up and go somewhere, do something for yourself that makes you happy, journal), one thing I think that gets skipped over is the cognitive ways we can help ourselves.

So here I have curated a list of things I've learned along the way that have aided in me mentally being able to change my negative thoughts into something more positive and useful. These all came from a book called The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns which I highly recommend, and studied from in grad school. These are the ones I've taken, applied, and found successful, but there are many more. 

1. Be straightforward with yourself. This one is simple-ask yourself if you can replace the negative thought with something more positive and realistic.

2. Examine the evidence behind your negative thought. What is the evidence that this thought is true? What is the evidence that it is not true?

3. Give a survey. Ask others if they've ever felt that way.

4. Apply the double-standard technique. Ask yourself if you would ever say those thoughts to a friend, and why or why not? Then ask what you would say to a friend in that circumstance.

5. Pleasure-predicting. Predict how satisfying various activities will be, on a scale from 0% to 100%. After you've completed the activity, scale again. This also helps with the lack of motivation we feel with depression!

6. Find your underlying beliefs with the thought. Ask yourself, "if this were true, why would it be upsetting to me?'

7. Keep it gray. Don't expect things to be in black and white. Examine all areas, ask yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, positive and negative qualities.

8. The semantic method. Use mostly objective words to change your thoughts. Take the emotions out of it. Change, "I'm an asshole" to "what can I learn from this?"

9. Reattribution. *personal fav* Consider all the factors when thinking of your current problem and focus on solving the problem rather than placing blame. Ask yourself, "what caused the problem? What did I contribute? What did other people contribute? What did life contribute? What can I learn from this?"

10. Find acceptance. Maybe instead of refuting the negative thoughts you find some truth in it and accept it. Can you accept that you are a human and have flaws? 

So these are some ways I have found to combat my pessimism and chronic bad mood as a result. Number 9 is the one I use most often, and the one I practiced on the day these pictures were taken. Another thing that helped me was my boyfriend, who was very supportive and helped me to focus on the positive and find the learning. Surrounding yourself with people who uplift you is one of the best things you can do for yourself in life!

Anyway, I hope these suggestions help y'all the way they've helped me. Don't forget, the more you do them, the better they work. Happy positive thinking!

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