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A guide to staying positive

Positive thinking is when we focus on positive thoughts in any situation. This helps us improve our physical and mental health.

As per our experience in our life we develop a pattern of thinking (thoughts): negative as well as positive. When we develop negative pattern of thoughts, thinking or core beliefs which will damage our mental, physical, emotional and social factors, all this causes major disorders like depression, suicidal, anxiety, panic attacks and so on.

Here are some typical thinking errors, or cognitive distortions, and their definitions:

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking: You see things only in two categories. Things are black or white, with no shades of grey. “I have to do a great job on everything.”

2. Fortune-Telling: You make negative predictions about what will happen when other outcomes are more likely. “I’ll always have trouble figuring out my thoughts.”

3. Labelling: You put a globally negative label on yourself. “I’m a failure for making a mistake.”

4. Emotional reasoning. You believe something must be true because it “feels” true. “I must be incompetent.”

5. Selective abstraction: You pay attention only to the negative aspects of situations instead of considering the entire experience. “I made so many mistakes.”

6. Overgeneralisation: You draw a general conclusion on the basis of a small amount of evidence. “I do everything wrong.”

7. Mind reading: You are sure you know what others are thinking. “They probably think I’m foolish.”

8. Personalisation: You take others’ actions personally when they actually have other intentions. “They did that to me on purpose.”

9. Imperatives: You have an unreasonably rigid idea about how you or others should or must behave. “I should always do my absolute best.”

10. Magnification and minimisation: You magnify the negatives or minimise the positives. “I’m no good at figuring out what to do.” “It doesn’t matter than I have good common sense.” 

The biggest challenge in life is to deal with our negative pattern of thinking. And there are few skills which we have to develop in our day to day life to be positive and to reduce negative pattern of thinking.

Keep a thought diary

Writing down your thoughts, feeling and emotion will help you to know your pattern of thinking. Once you know and have understood your inner thoughts, you have to challenge your negative thoughts.

The following are few questions which will help you with this:

1. What is the evidence that your inner thoughts are true?

2. Will repeated negative thoughts help you to be happy and positive?

3. What can be an alternative positive way to see this situation? (Refer to table)

Engage in positive activities

Most of the time it’s very difficult to be positive all the time especially in trying situations. During this period, we have to put our positive efforts and focus on activities which will makes us happy. These include spending time with friends, family and activities like dancing, singing, reading books, printing etc. All we have to do is shift our mind from negative to positive activities.

Positive affirmations

Whenever we want to achieve something or when we try something new, we feel we cannot do it or we are not capable enough to do it, without even giving it a try. Thus, we end up underestimating our self which lowers self-esteem and motivation.

Instead, try and develop a positive statement or positive affirmations such as ‘I can do it’ and ‘I will do it’. This positive feedback to yourself will help you feel motivated and increase your self-confidence.

Give credit to yourself

Whenever we achieve something in our life, we wait for our family, friends, our boss or our co-workers to appreciate us for our hard work and are demotivated when someone doesn’t

appreciate us.

We forget to give credit to our own self for our own effort and hard work. Feel proud of yourself first, tap yourself and give credit to yourself instead of waiting for others.

The way you think, is the way you react. So think positive and act positive

(As told by psychologist, District Mental Health Programme, North Goa, Durga Chari to Danuska Da Gama)

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