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Tools for Positive Thinking

By Brandi Bellamy, AMFT, PPS

With all that is happening in the world, it is easy to fall into a negative mindset. Not to mention the general pressure of transitioning into adulthood if you have been told “No” over and over again would take a toll on anyone. This post isn’t going to tell you that being happy all the time is what you should aim for because that is not realistic. What it will do is give you some tools and small steps you can take to add more positivity in your world so you are better equipped to take on whatever life throws at you.

Reframe Your Thoughts

Reframing your thoughts is a way to look at a negative thought in a different way.

  • Recognize your negative thought 
  • Brainstorm all other ways that that thought can be interpreted
  • Commit the most positive thought to your memory

Practice this pattern, because it is not intuitive.

Develop Growth Mindset

“Growth Mindset” is a buzz term that has been becoming more prominent in the past several years, especially with teachers and other adults in education. While it sounds cheesy, it has merit and value. A growth mindset can help you:

  • Develop resiliency
  • Learn new skills and refine old skills
  • Create coping strategies

A growth mindset is similar to reframing your thoughts, in that it is a way to change your negative thoughts into thoughts of hope. Here are some steps you can take to begin:

Separate what you did from who you are as a person

“I suck at math” -> “I don’t suck at math, I just don’t understand these concepts”

Add  “Yet”. Just adding the word yet can take a negative thought into a thought of resilience.

“I just don’t get it!”  -> “I don’t get it, yet”

Look at failures as a learning opportunity

“I should have never trusted them” -> “Now I know what to look for in trustworthy people”

Give yourself permission to not be great. 

“I’ll never be good at making music” -> “Its okay that I won’t ever be a professional musician, making music is still something I find to be fun.”

Make a Hype Friend

We are our own worst critics. Even when we do well, we don’t always believe that it is because of what we did. However, when someone else recognizes our accomplishments, we start to believe it. That is where your hype friend comes in. A hype friend is someone you can speak candidly with regarding how you’re feeling and they can be an outside force to tell you that you are worthy and prevent you from falling into a negative thought spiral. 

A hype friend is someone who:

  • recognizes and tells you about your positive qualities and strengths
  • you believe to be honest 
  • you trust
  • is supportive
  • is validating
  • is nonjudgmental
  • reminds you to be kind and take care of yourself

If you have a hype friend in mind, be sure to ask their permission before giving them this role. 

Practice Gratitude

The act of practicing gratitude is a way for us to remember the things that are going right when the world feels like it is all wrong. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy or extensive event, it can be as simple as thinking of one thing each day to be thankful for. No item is too small. If you want to commit your gratitude to memory, begin a gratitude journal where you write down one (or more) thing you are grateful for each day.