Anger, depression, anxiety. How much control do you have over your negative feelings? According to research, a lot more than you might think. There is a good chance the way you feel is the result of what you are thinking.
Your views also influence your actions. Let's say on the day of one woman's wedding, it rains. She might think, "Oh, this is awful. My wedding is ruined." She might even think, "Bad things always happen to me!" But what if the woman thought, "The rain is a disappointment. Still, I'm going to make the best day out of this anyway." Which way would you view the situation?
Going to the Dark Side
Negative thinking patterns can distort your view of what's really going on in your personal and professional life. They cause you to discount the positive, magnify the negative, and anticipate failure as the most likely outcome. The darkest thoughts can make you feel isolated and angry towards others, and can provoke actions that you will regret.
Taking the Rosier View
So how can you become a more positive person? The key is to learn to recognize the distorted thoughts when you have them. Ask yourself, "What evidence do I have for this?" "Is this really true?" and "Is this thought hurting me?" Then learn to substitute with more realistic thoughts. It's a very simple idea really--pinpoint your distorted thoughts, dispute them, then replace them with realistic thoughts. Below is one example of how to challenge a common negative thought.
Negative thought: My work is far from perfect.
Positive thought: There will always be room for improvement. The goal is to do my best under the circumstances.
To learn more about how to change your negative thoughts with regular practice, we recommend this article from our archives.
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"Research has shown that people who do not have strong support from friends and family live shorter lives and suffer more from stress," says Cheryl A. Richey, Ph.D., professor of social work at the University of Washington. "Support from friends can give people the strength to make positive changes in their lives, like staying away from drugs or leaving an abusive relationship." READ MORE