(Video transcript follows) There are many benefits to having a positive outlook and not dwelling on negativity. But how do you stay “positive” when feeling hurt, upset, or worried? As in the photo gallery above, these people may experience uncertainties, but respond with courage, joy, and hope. Here are some ideas to support a positive thought process:
1) STOPPING OR TRANSFORMING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS: You can identify and stop or change the negative thought. So for example, a thought such as “I must complete my laundry list of things to do; people are depending upon me.” could be stressful and can put one in a place of feeling bad if they don’t meet their expectation. This same thought could be transformed to something like, “I have many important things to do, but perhaps they aren’t all necessary. Let me see if there are ways that I can prioritize or change my list of tasks so that I don’t get overwhelmed and stressed.” This is an example of a cognitive therapy approach.
2) UNDERSTANDING AND ACCEPTING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND MOODS: Another option is to acknowledge the presence of the specific negative thought or feeling (as one of many) and allow it to be present or regard it with curiosity. With this strategy, you don’t avoid negative thoughts or feelings nor feel badly for having them. So using the same example of wanting to complete too many tasks- “My body feels tired and I am overwhelmed with everything I need.. I mean, want.. to do. Let me sit down and take a few deep breaths to clear my mind, and then I can decide how I want to continue.” This is an example of a mindfulness approach.
3) BUILDING ON YOUR STRENGTHS AND ASSETS: Lastly you can identify your strengths and find ways to thrive in spite of your circumstances. In other words, how can you be resilient? So with our example, the person could think “I have so many things I want to do.. but I can’t keep running around like a chicken with my head cut off! I will keep working on these things for a little while longer, and then I will stop- it will have to be enough for now. I am really looking forward to having personal activity time and I don’t want to let this list of tasks cut into that time.” In this example, the person recognizes and accepts their limitations, as well as creates and guards space in their schedule for personal growth and meaningful activity. This is an example of a positive psychology approach.
DON’T PLAY THE SHAME GAME: If you have negative thoughts or moods that are more frequent or persisting, don’t be hard on yourself. Judgment by self or others can lead to feeling more down & powerless and lead to isolation and poor coping. Role models, Bible verses, and inspiring books/programs/etc can be helpful; they can also be harmful. Your strategies for a positive mindset will likely be different from the next person. Similarly, what works for you now may not work at other points in your life.
These ideas are just a few examples; there are many other ways to change your thoughts and behaviors to foster greater positivity. Start with small consistent changes and go from there.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to call or reach out via email. <3 Be well !
All blog posts from Dr. Soo Hoo are provided for educational and informational purposes only. As Dr. Soo Hoo is a licensed clinical and health psychologist, we must make it clear that nothing on the blog is intended to constitute medical or psychological advice, consultation, recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are concerned about your health, please seek appropriate care in your area.