Negative Thoughts ➡️ Negative Feelings ➡️ Negative Reactions
A phrase that resonated with me while listening to Dr. Daniel Amen’s talk at The Rise Up Challenge I’m currently participating in. He talked about automatic negative thoughts and how to flip them into positive ones.
Because Positive Thoughts ➡️ Positive Feelings ➡️ Positive Reactions
So I’d like to share with you the five steps I learned from Dr. Amen as well as my own perspective on how to turn our negative thoughts into positive ones.
Here are the 5 steps:
Step 1 -> Write down your negative thought
When you write it down, it helps you to see it differently which may shift your perspective.
I used to think people didn’t like me. That I wasn’t good enough or doing enough to make myself likable. I wrote about it in my journal, however this thought continued to be reinforced because I didn’t do the next steps.
Step 2 -> Ask IS IT TRUE?
By simply asking a question, your thinking brain lights up and seeks for a reason to answer if this thought is true or not.
If I had asked myself, ‘Is it true that I’m not good enough’? Part of me would say ‘No’. Which leads to the next question of ‘Is it absolutely true that I’m not good enough’? The word ‘absolutely’ puts more emphasis on the certainty of this thought. Where my response would have been ‘No, it’s not absolutely true’, if I knew then to ask myself this question.
Step 3 -> How do you feel when you believe these thoughts?
Negative thoughts bring negative emotions which leads to negative reactions. Eventually we spiral down to the depths of negativity. And it becomes a vicious cycle.
I believed I wasn’t good enough and I was miserable. It brought me to the lowest point of my life where negative thoughts reigned. Hope was lost on me at that time and my future was a blur.
Step 4 -> How do you feel when you don’t believe these thoughts?
This is the moment when we come out of our negativity and see the light of possibilities. If we’re stuck on the negative thoughts and feelings, we have to imagine what it would feel like when we have the opposite thought.
For me, I know I would feel confident, at ease, and self-assured if I believed I was good enough. However it took me some time to get to that belief.
Step 5 -> Flip the thought, then ask IS IT TRUE?
Challenge your initial thought with an opposing thought which turns negativity into positivity. This is where we’d like our thoughts to reside. Of course, this doesn’t mean we live as ‘Pollyanas’. We also have to be realistic which is why it’s also important to ask if this thought is true.
The term ‘realistic optimism’ comes to mind – where we acknowledge and accept circumstances beyond our control but not get caught up in it to the point where it brings us down. We develop and tap into our resilience as well as other strengths to determine how we can get through to the other side.
On a given day, what kind of thoughts reside in your mind? Are you an optimist, pessimist or a realistic optimist?