Combat negative thinking using thought awareness.
Negative thinking can be crippling. It's a key source of stress, and it can make you feel overwhelmed and out of control. This can lead to mental paralysis, which will prevent you from achieving what you should.
Positive thinking is the opposite of this. It helps you put a difficult situation into perspective, it dispels unnecessary worries, and it sets you up to perform well – and enjoy what you're doing.
So how can you get your thinking on to a more positive path? Well, think of it as a three-stage process.
The first step is "thought awareness." This is when you become mindful of what's going on inside your head. Keep a stress diary to log any stressful events that happened during your day, and write down any negative thoughts as they occur. You can access a free worksheet that will help you to do this at MindTools.com.
The next stage is "rational thinking." This is when you challenge your negative thoughts.
Ask yourself whether each one is reasonable. Is there any basis for it? Would your colleagues or mentors agree with it? Or would they think you were being unduly harsh with yourself?
Write down your rational response to each negative thought. You should be able to see whether or not they have any substance to them. Where they do, take appropriate action to improve the situation.
The final stage is to prepare rational, positive thoughts and affirmations to counter any remaining negativity. These should be specific, with strong emotional content, and expressed in the present tense for maximum effect.
For instance, if you were feeling worried about a project at work, you might tell yourself: "I am well trained for this and I have thought through and prepared for all possible issues. I have the experience, the tools and the resources that I need to do a really good job."
An important part of this final stage is to look at the opportunities each situation might offer you.
By approaching difficult circumstances rationally and positively, you'll learn new skills, and become known as someone who can handle a challenge. You may even find that new doors open for you.
To find out more about thought awareness, see the article that accompanies this video.