Do Come Up with Alternatives X vs. Y • Consciously challenge a negative thought about an event by coming up with alternate explanations for what caused it. o There was a lot of competition, but I'll do better next time. o I'm just not good enough. • Try to view negative experiences as unlucky situations that are neither personal nor permanent. Psychologist Martin Seligman calls this "learned optimism". Try Defensive Pessimism Considering the worst-case scenario can actually help diffuse worries IF you come up with actionable strategies to avoid it. Learn to Dispute Your Own Negative Thoughts Recognize them and then try to see them as if someone else said them to you. Now consider: Would anyone who cares about you ever really say that? "What an idiot!" "It happens to all of us!" When you're feeling down on yourself, think about what a good friend would say to you or argue on your behalf. By being more mindful of our thought patterns, we can choose to be more positive: - Examine the evidence for your negative thoughts. Are they rational? o "I didn't get the job because I have nothing to offer." - Dispute the thoughts with a mantra like, "This too shall pass." - Try meditation: Focus on the present moment and take a few deep breaths. - Take action to move forward. Work toward a meaningful goal. Practice this Disputation Technique Pay attention to adverse experiences that spark pessimism. Record negative beliefs that crop up and their consequences. Dispute them and feel energized. Lend a Hand Helping someone else will shift your thinking away from your own problems and boost your self-esteem. Think: What Good Came Out of a Bad Experience? People who engage in "benefit-finding" have fewer disruptive thoughts, less negativity and more meaning in their lives. Did You Know? Optimistic people tend to ignore negative evidence—unlike pessimists, they simply choose not to believe bad news. (But use this strategy wisely!) ARE ALL NEGATIVE THOUGHTS BAD? First Things First It's natural to have negative thoughts from time to time. Psychologists say that trying to be constantly upbeat can actually make us unhappier. (Plus, we wouldn’t enjoy life as much if we didn't feel both the ups and downs.) Acknowledge the Good and the Bad People in counseling who acknowledge feeling both good and bad thoughts make more positive changes. Suppressing Negative Thoughts Can Backfire In one classic study, participants who were asked to not think about a white bear thought about it more afterward than those who were allowed to think about it from the beginning. Another study found that we eat more comfort foods if we try to push back bad feelings instead of accepting them and moving on. Accepting Negative Emotions Can be a Powerful Way to Move Forward Remember: "A thought is just a thought and a feeling just a feeling," wrote psychotherapist Tori Rodriguez in Scientific American. LETTING GO OF JEALOUSY The Grass Is Always Greener People who regularly compare themselves to others are more likely to experience envy, guilt, regret and defensiveness. It Happens in the Workplace, Too A study of police officers found that those who make frequent social comparisons are less satisfied with their jobs. Just This Once… Compare yourself to someone who's worse off than you. It can help you realize that your problems are not insurmountable. Focus on Your Strengths Identify one of your best traits and find a new way to use it every day for a week. Turn Envy into Action In one study, scientists found that "benign envy"—an admiring rather than malicious form of the feeling—caused students to study harder and perform better on IQ and creativity tests. Benign Envy SUPER SIMPLE WAYS TO DEAL WITH NEGATIVE THOUGHTS 6 easy ways to counter the negative nellies in your head: - Take a walk - Do some yoga - Get some cardio - Listen to upbeat music -Find a distractor -Schedule a small amount of time each day for worrying Repeat After Me… If you rapidly say a word or phrase over and over for a minute or two, the word will lose its meaning. (Repeating words to reduce their power is a technique called cognitive defusion.) You could even repeat it in a cartoon voice so it starts to sound plain silly. "I can't" "Impossible" "I'm nothing" Journal It Spending 20 minutes writing about something that's stressing you out can actually help you think about it less, say psychologists at the University of Texas. To let go of negative thoughts: 1. Jot them down on a piece of paper. 2. Tear it up. 3. Throw it out! An Ohio State University study found that this works! Or play the NEGATIVE KNOCKOUT game on Happify! Warm Up Physical warmth and social warmth trigger activity in the same areas of the brain. Next time you're feeling lonely or rejected, take a warm shower or bath. Research shows it can help you feel better! Walk Out of the Room University of Notre Dame researchers found that we can break free from seemingly never-ending whirlwinds of negativity with a simple change of setting. But remember: Learning how to challenge your negative thinking takes time. Be patient and forgiving with yourself. Brought to you by Happify Build skills for a happier life with fun, science-based activities and games at www.happify.com Sources: [DON'T NEED TO TRANSLATE THE ACTUAL CITATIONS BELOW] Bargh, J.A., Shalev, I. (2012) The substitutability of physical and social warmth in daily life. Emotion. Bauer, I. & Wrosch, C. (2011). Making Up for Lost Opportunities: The Protective Role of Downward Social Comparisons for Coping With Regrets Across Adulthood. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Briñol, P., Gascoó, M., Petter, R.E., & Horcajo, J. (2012). Treating Thoughts as Material Objects Can Increase or Decrease Their Impact on Evaluation. Psychological Science. Carpenter, S. (2001) A New Reason for Keeping a Diary. Monitor on Psychology. Burkeman, O. (2012) "The Power of Negative Thinking" The Wall Street Journal. Inagaki, T.K., Eisenberger, N.I. (2013) Shared neural mechanisms underlying social warmth and physical warmth. Psychological Science. Leahy, R. (2008) How to free yourself from worry. Cognitive Therapy. Lyubomirsky, Sonja (2008). The How of Happiness. Penguin Books. Magyar-Moe, J.L. (2009) Therapist's Guide to Positive Psychological Interventions. Academic Press. Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Wisco, B.E., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Rethinking Rumination. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Radvansky, G.A., Krawietz, S.A, & Tamplin, A. K. (2011). Walking through doorways causes forgetting: Further explorations. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Rodriguez, T. (2013). "Negative Emotions are Key to Well-Being" Scientific American Mind. Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/envy/#1.3 University of Wisconsin-Madison http://www.uwhealth.org/news/can-what-you-think-affect-how-you-feel/41007 Van, N.V.D., Zeelenberg, M. & Pieters, R. (2011). Why Envy Outperforms Admiration. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Wegner, D.M., Schneider, D.J., Carter, S.R. 3rd, et al. (1987) Paradoxical effects of thought suppression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. White, J.B., Langer, E.J., Yariv, L., & Welch, J.C. (2006). Frequent Social Comparisons and Destructive Emotions and Behaviors: The Dark Side of Social Comparisons. Journal of Adult Development. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/10/unwanted-thoughts.aspx" />
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