Learn to challenge your negative thinking

over_the_bayIf you are feeling angry, frustrated, disappointed, guilty or sad don’t bottle up your feelings.  Have a conversation with yourself:


What is making you feel this way?


When have you felt like this before?


Are there any similarities in the situations?



The Past

Sometimes the past impacts on the present causing us to react in similar ways.  When we step back and have a look at the current situation we can reduce our reaction by recognising that the past is influencing our reactions.


Our Thoughts

Our thoughts may be making the situation worse.  If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts such as these, it is really useful to challenge yourself, to give yourself an alternative perspective. Here are a few negative thoughts followed by a challenge to help you find a kinder perspective on yourself and boost your self-esteem:


Learning to Challenge Yourself

If you think: I can’t stand it – challenge this by saying to yourself:  I can stand it.  It is hard but I have done this before. It is good for me to be stretched a bit.


If you find yourself thinking It’s not worth even trying. Challenge this by saying:  If I don’t try, I won’t know.  It will widen my experience/skills.  Nobody is expecting me to be perfect.


If you find yourself imaging the worst and saying to yourself – It would be awful and embarrassing. Challenge this by recognising everybody makes mistakes sometimes and it’s a great way to learn.


If you believe you won’t fit in. Challenge this by saying: How do I know that?  I have made friends before in similar situations.


If you often say to yourself:  I’m not good enough. Challenge this by saying: I am good enough – I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t know that I’m not good enough and if I stay here I will never go forward.


Do you worry that you won’t know what to talk about? Help yourself feel better and more confident by recognising that you have your own thoughts and opinions. Say to yourself: I can learn to ask people about their thoughts and opinions.  People like to talk about themselves and this is a good place to start with making conversations.


Do you worry that you might cry or be upset? Challenge that thought by recognising you have a good reason to be emotional and people will understand.   It is only human to show emotion and expressing it is much better than repressing it.


Do you find yourself saying:  I’m useless. You are a harsh critic of yourself.  Take one step at a time and say to yourself:  I have dealt with more than this before. I just need to slow down, breath and stop condemning myself.


A Few more useful Questions to shift unhelpful beliefs

For all of the above examples ask yourself some more questions:


In the same circumstances what would you say to your best friend?


If you looked back in five years time how strongly will you feel about this?


When you are not feeling this way emotionally do you think about situations like this differently?


What strengths and skills do you have that will help this situation?


Cognitive behavioural therapy helps you to help yourself.  Developed during the fifties and sixties by Aaron T. Beck and Albert Ellis it allows you to learn to question your beliefs and thoughts if they are affecting your life negatively.  Using the inductive method CBT encourages us to see our thoughts as hypotheses that may be incorrect.  This may be because we habitually expect a certain outcome or don’t have correct information available to judge.  When we look for other information or decide to react/behave differently life can be much better.


If you have a negative self view and would like to work in a forward looking relationship with a life coach trained in CBT please get in touch.  I offer a free 20 min consultation and sessions are available over the telephone or face to face if you are in Devon.

A few more boosts for your Self Esteem…

butterflyWhen you feel the sudden awareness that your self-esteem is dipping or crashing.
Stop!   ….. Breathe deeply and slowly in and out 4 times and try one of these savers:

    Self-talk is important.  Often the internal critic will fire off negative comments, be ready for it and counter this by saying to yourself:

“I am good enough!”

“I can stand this”

“I have my own opinions, thoughts and feelings”

“There are things about me that are likeable and things that are not so good  – just like anyone else”

“I have overcome more difficult problems than this in the past”

“I am not perfect and don’t need to be. I am good at some things and not so good at others”

“I don’t know for a fact that everyone is having a better time than me.  Just because they are busy doesn’t mean they are more happy”.

  • Remember life is full of choices and you make them, especially how you chose to think.  Prepare in advance by thinking of words that represent values you want to feature in your life from now on.  For example love, laughter, fun, integrity, calmness, kindness etc.  Search out experiences and thoughts to make these words live in your life!
  • Focus on what you do want rather than what you don’t want in life. Be aware of the language you use;  “try” is a word that implies something may or may not happen; instead say:  “I will” which gives a positive commitment that something will happen.
  • How would you like people to behave towards you?  Do people know how you feel?  Sometimes we expect others to read our minds.

Simplify life by letting your nearest and dearest know what you need.  Instead of saying “You make me feel ….  Come from the I.  I feel ………     Or I need …….…     This feels far less critical to the person receiving your comment and you clarify what you do actually feel and need.

  • Let go of anger and resentment.  It is your choice how you react to others; it may be a habit to break.

What would it be like to decide not to feel like this?  To not react?  How would life be?

If others tease you, frustrate you and make you feel criticised decide to recognise the feeling,  accept it and not react.  By giving them the attention they seek you are fuelling the fire.  Remove the reaction and the behaviour will stop over time. You will eventually find you can turn a negative situation quickly into a positive one.

  • Remember your own personal boundaries.  If someone pushes you too far and a situation is getting out of control. Stop, take a couple of deep breaths and tell them you can’t deal with this now.  Make a time later in the day or week when feelings will have reduced where you can discuss the issue calmly.  Then leave the situation.
  • Spark your enthusiasm.  Sometimes life can be become a bit humdrum, same old pattern or habits, people and places.  This is when you can feel bored and dissatisfied.  It’s time to fire your enthusiasm:  read inspiring articles/blogs, look for new things to do e.g. Holiday destinations, days out, galleries, exhibitions, country walks, historical houses, plays to see, new films to watch, books to read, book clubs to join, hobbies to investigate.  Consider something you have never tried before it might just be the spark you need

We all fall into negativie thinking patterns at times.  If this is problematic take some time when you are feeling OK to plan how to cope the next time you don’t feel OK.  A wise investment to reduce future stress and discomfort. Keep the plan handy and use it as a safety valve when you feel yourself slipping.