A lot is talked about "positive thinking" in life coaching circles. Here is a simple exercise to help you come up with positive thinking options if you have negative thoughts:
1. If you find yourself thinking ‘I should have done X’ or ‘I should not have done Y’, think of positive thoughts that you can say in your mind as constructive thoughts to take the place of the negative thoughts or as comments on the situation which make you realise it may not be as bad as it looks, or that you may not be to blame so much as you think.
Replacement thoughts might be:
- At least I did something!
- Maybe what I did wasn’t quite as significant as I think
- Relax, nobody’s perfect
- There are positives which could be taken from the situation
- What can I learn from this and put to use?
- Am I jumping to conclusions?
- What happened is not entirely my fault
- Maybe the other person’s reaction had nothing to do with what I did, but was more to do with something else they are worried about at the moment or with their attitude
- I’ll do something different next time
- Every cloud has a silver lining
- Our relationship is strong enough to cope with what I did & if it isn’t then it may not be worth it anyway!
- I wouldn’t be so hard on someone else if they had acted in this way to me
- Time to move on and do something else
- If you think that was bad, just imagine what the worst that could have happened would have been!
- I’ll discuss what happened with the other person next time we meet and check out if their perception of what happened is the same as mine
- In the scope of the universe, this is not the most momentous event that’s ever happened
- This gives me chance to practise my daily meditation
- At least life’s not boring
2. Think of two situations you have experienced recently where you have reflected afterwards that you should have done something different or that you should not have done what you did.
Create a table like that below and specify in the left hand column what you said to yourself (e.g. ‘I should not have done X…’). In the right hand column think of at least three alternative thoughts you can substitute for the negative thought to create a more balanced and more constructive approach. The examples above give some idea of the sort of alternatives you might create, but feel free to create your own.
Possible Alternative Positive Thoughts
3. Try using the Alternative Positive Thoughts the next time you find yourself thinking negatively. If it helps write them down and keep them close by you to remind you – or put them somewhere where you will see them– perhaps on your computer or in you diary or on your fridge door!
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