Teaching your mind to think in a positive way is easier said than done. For some it comes naturally, but others may find it more difficult.
Those of us who tend to apply negative thinking to our thoughts and choices have often done so from a young age. By the time we reach adulthood, this thought process can become so well-established that we may not even notice it.
If you are a negative thinker, you will most likely focus on the problems, rather than the positives of situations. If you find that you tend to shy away from new opportunities or experiences because you’re worried about making the wrong impression or messing something up, then this may also be an indication.
This type of thinking can become problematic and start to affect the level of happiness you feel. A decline in happiness may happen very slowly, over a number of years, so that you’re not aware of the cause.
But if you’re finding yourself lacking in confidence, feeling unhappy or dissatisfied for no reason, or if you frequently put yourself down, then you may find it useful to re-evaluate the way you look at the world.
The good news is these negative thinking patterns are reversible. With some guidance and perseverance, you can easily change your mindset to improve your positivity, confidence and overall happiness.
Indeed, it has been proved that people who adopt a positive disposition are more resilient to setbacks and are able to face challenges with increased confidence.
Using the GEE strategy can be an effective method to help you leave negative thinking behind. This is short for generalising, exaggerating and excluding. This technique works by encouraging you to evaluate situations from a more positive viewpoint.
Step 1. Generalising
If you find yourself having negative thoughts, try to consider why. Are these negative feelings the result of a few specific experiences?
For example, your original thought may be:
“Everybody is too busy to help nowadays.”
By rephrasing the thought so that it is more representative of the situation, you can make it more positive. For example:
“Most people are willing to make time, but Jane is an exception.”
Step 2. Exaggerating
Consider whether you may be unintentionally exaggerating your current problems.
The original thought, for instance, might be turned from:
“This new restriction will cause chaos at the airport; I can just see us spending the night there.”
“This new restriction is going to mean longer queues, so we must be prepared to encounter some delays until everyone gets used to it.”
Step 3. Excluding
Are you excluding positive aspects in order to focus on the negative?
For example, the original thought may read:
“That woman is incapable of caring — all she thinks about is herself. There’s no point in ringing her again.”
When rephrased, it becomes more positive:
“Her response was certainly a little abrupt. However, I may have caught her at a bad time, and tomorrow she may be more accommodating.”
This extract is from Weathering the Storm: How to Build Confidence and Self-Esteem in the Face of Adversity by Gael Lindenfield (Trigger Publishing, £7.99).