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Turn around negative automatic thinking

You are thinking negatively when you fear the future, put yourself down, criticize yourself for errors, doubt your abilities, or expect failure. Negative thinking damages confidence, harms performance and paralyses mental skills.

A major problem with this is that negative thoughts tend to flit into our consciousness, do their damage and flit back out again with their significance, having barely been noticed. Since we do not challenge them, they can be completely incorrect and wrong. Yet, this does not diminish their harmful affect.

Thought awareness is the process by which you observe your thoughts and become aware of what is going through your head.

One approach to it is to observe your stream of consciousness as you think about a stressful situation. Do not suppress any thoughts: Instead, you must let them run their course while you watch them, and write them down as they occur.

Another more general approach to thought awareness comes with logging stress in your stress diary. One of the benefits of using the stress diary is that you log all of the unpleasant things in your life that cause you stress for one or two weeks. This will include negative thoughts and anxieties, and can also include difficult or unpleasant memories and situations that you perceive as negative. By logging your negative thoughts for a reasonable period of time, you will quickly see patterns in your negative thinking. When you analyse your diary at the end of the period, you should be able to see the most common and the most damaging thoughts. Tackle these as a priority.

Thought awareness is the first step in the process of managing negative thoughts as you cannot manage thoughts that you are unaware of.

The next step in dealing with negative thinking is to challenge the negative thoughts that you identified using the thought awareness technique. Look at every thought you wrote down and rationally challenge it. Ask yourself whether the thought is reasonable. Does it stand up to fair scrutiny?

Relabeling your mental messages with a more positive outlook can help increase your perspective of the entire situation and aid in managing your stress response. Here are some examples:

Negative self-talk


Positive refraiming

I'm not smart enough to do this.

  I can learn how to do this.

I'm never going to learn how to manage my stress.

  I'm going to try to learn how to manage my stress.

There's never enough time to get things done.

  I'll take a time management class and see if it makes a difference.

It's a waste of time.

  The time spent will be worth the effort.

I'm not going to get any better at this.

  I'll try again.

There's no way it will work.

  I can make it work.

No one bothers to communicate.

  I'll see if I can open the channels.

It's not my job.

  I'll be glad to take the responsibility.

It's too risky.

  Let's take a chance. After all, the biggest risk is in not taking a risk.

It will never fly.

  I'll never know unless I try.

Let somebody else deal with it.

  I'm ready to learn something new.

It's not going to get any better.

  I'll try one more time.

I can't compete.

  I'll get a jump-start on the competition.

I've already tried it.

  I'll learn from this experience.