14 Powerful questions to help you overcome negative thinking
Many people seem to think that thinking is something that just happens to them; that they lack any control over their thoughts. This could not be further from the truth. You do have control of your thoughts; it is you who is choosing your thoughts. This belief that they lack control over their thoughts makes it very difficult to overcome negative thinking. Negative thinking is the beginning of a very destructive spiral which quickly takes over your life. Negative thinking, if left unchecked, can have devastating consequences. You lose self-esteem, lack belief in yourself and others and after a period of time, you do not even try to better your circumstances because you believe you have failed before you even start.
If you want to be a success and achieve your goals and dreams, it is important that you overcome your negative thinking at the earliest possible opportunity. To do this, the first step is to recognise that you are thinking negatively and identify the failings in the thinking which you are experiencing.
14 Questions to help you overcome your negative thinking
The following questions are designed to help you identify your negative thinking and pick holes in that negative thinking. As soon as you find yourself thinking negatively, start asking yourself these questions. You will find that your negative thinking is both inaccurate and unhelpful. From there you can start to view things from a more positive perspective.
1. Is this fact or just my opinion?
You may often confuse opinion for fact. In reality, there are very few facts in life. Most of your conclusions are shaped by your beliefs and experience, meaning that they are subjective opinions rather than facts. When you learn to accept that the conclusions which you have reached are just your opinion, you realise that there are other possible conclusions which could be equally true.
2. Could I be wrong?
When you ask this question of yourself, you begin to explore the other possible explanations for what has happened.
3. Why am I so certain of the conclusion I have reached?
This question allows you to determine the reasoning for your conclusion. You can then examine the accuracy of your reasoning.
4. What assumptions am I making?
Most of your conclusions will require you to have made some assumptions. Remember that you do not know what is going on in someone else’s mind. Anywhere that you have attributed reasoning to somebody else’s actions; you have made an assumption. Anywhere that you do not have access to all the facts; you are making an assumption. Where you have made assumptions; there is the possibility that you have made an error.
5. What evidence is there to support my thinking?
If you are going to form a conclusion, it is essential that you are able to back that up with some strong evidence.
6. What evidence is there to dispute my thinking?
When you are experiencing negative thinking it is important that you attempt to view things from an alternative perspective. Just like scientists attempt to disprove their own theories, you should try to disprove your own theories.
7. What is the worst that could happen?
It is easy to get carried away with negative thinking and imagine all manner of things which could go wrong. To counteract this, it is imperative to take a moment to determine the worst thing that could realistically happen. Then you must ask yourself what the chances of that worst outcome occurring really are e.g. many people fear bungee jumping because they fear they could die. Statistically you are far more likely to die in a car accident, yet few people fear getting into a car. Perspective is important.
8. Could I cope with the worst case scenario?
Most times the worst case scenario will not be that bad at all. When you realise this, you trust that you can cope with whatever outcome should arise and this gives you the confidence to proceed.
9. How does this negative thinking really serve me?
The answer to this question is often ‘It does not serve me’. Most negative thinking is simply unrealistic and inaccurate. It serves no real purpose. When negative thinking does serve a useful purpose, it is usually just to remind you to take the necessary precautions. When you question the usefulness of your negative thinking you will often find that your negative thinking immediately begins to disappear.
10. What would someone I trust think of my conclusion?
This is a great question to help you view things from another perspective. You force yourself to view the situation through another person’s eyes. When you do this, you tend to look at the situation more objectively and draw a more realistic conclusion.
11. Who says things should be this way?
I have often had the problem of viewing things as black and white i.e. things should be a certain way. If they are not that way, there is something wrong. I found that when I asked myself ‘who says it should be this way?’ I could not find a logical answer. I had merely taken my viewpoint and turned it into a rule for life. By demanding that things by a particular way, I was setting myself up for disappointment every time that things were not as I demanded.
12. How else might I view this situation?
Again, with this question, you are encouraging yourself to view the situation from different perspectives and thus breakdown your feeling of certainty which has resulted in your negative thinking.
13. Am I accepting responsibility for something which is not my fault, or within my control?
You may be beating yourself up over something which you had no control over. If you had no control, then there is nothing you could have done to change things. Realising this kills any justification for your negative thinking
14. When I felt like this before, what did I think to change my viewpoint?
It is unlikely that you are experiencing a particular form of negative thinking for the first time. If you have experienced it before, it will help you to recall how you overcame it the last time. What worked then is likely to work now.
Negative thinking is the enemy of confidence. If you are struggling with your confidence, check out Unbreakable Self Confidence.
Negative thinking can quickly take over your life and erode your confidence and self-belief. When you are overcome by negative thinking, you hold yourself back from pursuing your objectives. You do not think that you can successfully achieve your goals so rather than risk failure, you refuse to even try. You may try to pretend that these thoughts are not yours but that is just a way to avoid taking responsibility. These thoughts are yours. As soon as you accept this, you can start to identify and challenge your negative thinking. When you continue to challenge your negative thinking you rapidly improve your confidence and open up a path to successfully accomplish your goals. Next time you find yourself thinking negatively, ask yourself the questions above and you will soon start to make positive progress.
Image credit: Leroy Allen Skalstad