How To Beat Negative Thinking: Part 1

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on September 29, 2009

Good morning!

I’m glad you liked my Ode To Donkeys last night. ;) Oh my gosh that picture cracked me up so much!! I was dying laughing anytime I looked at it. I’m thinking new OSG Mascot??? She/he really does glow!

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Last week I dusted off a book that I hadn’t looked at for a while.

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After taking a neuropsychology course in my second year of undergrad, I became completely captivated and smitten with mind-brain research and the mind-body connection. I saved up my pennies and bought this book for pleasure reading.

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I remember a few of my friends teasing me for spending money on a book that looked like a textbook, but was not required for any of our classes. ;)

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Well, in fact, The Owner’s Manual For The Brain was one of the best books I have ever purchased. It is full of wonderful research about the mind-brain connection.

It answers questions like:

  • How does stress affect our health?
  • What can I do to keep my brain young as I age?
  • How does working the night shift affect my sleep-wake cycle?
  • What are the best strategies for studying and memory recall?
  • How do odors affect relaxation?
  • How does exercise affect moods and cravings?

You can see why I bought this book, right?! I knew my peeps would get me. ;)

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I buy strictly non-fiction books for my pleasure reading.

I wasn’t always this way as a child. Growing up, I loved reading books like the Choose Your Own Adventure series, The Babysitter’s Club, Anne of Green Gables, and Chronicles of Narnia. In my late teens, I became extremely interested in health and psychology and I found a passion in informative, research-based pleasure reading.

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After dusting this book off, I got to work and started reading up on next workshop topic:

How To Beat Negative Thinking: Part 1

1. Negative –> Positive Lists

As I mentioned in a previous post, something I do every now and then is make a list in the morning writing down all of the negative thoughts that are in my mind. I cross out those thoughts and list a positive, counter thought beside it. For example:

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Then at night time look at the list again. I find when I do this, often many of the things I was worrying about in the morning are no longer a concern. Before bed, make a new list of your negative thoughts and worries and cross them out by replacing them with a positive thought. You will also find that this helps you fall asleep faster as an added bonus.

2. Use the ABCDE model by Seligman

I first learned of the ABCDE model in one of my cognitive psychology courses. It is a very effective technique for banishing negative thinking patterns.

The ABCDE model works as follows:

A (adversity): Recognize when adversity hits.

B (beliefs): Be aware of what you believe about the adversity.

C (consequences): Be aware of the emotional and other consequences of your beliefs.

D (disputation): Counter it! Question whether your beliefs are the only explanation. For example, ask yourself: What is the evidence for my beliefs? What other possible explanations are there? Do I get any benefits from holding onto these beliefs?

E (energization): Be aware of the new consequences (feelings, behaviours, actions) that follow from a more optimistic explanation.

As an example, I will do the ABCDE method for the negative thoughts I was having about my half marathon race.

A = I didn’t run at all this week and as a result I am going to fail in my half marathon on Sunday.

B = I am not dedicated and disciplined enough to train for this race.

C = I might as well quit my race training and just go back to being an off and on runner. That way I won’t have to let myself down.

D = Wait a second here! I have been training really hard for the past 4 months. One week off running is not going to hurt me. In fact, it might make me even more rested for the big day. I am doing a very good thing by not over-training like I did in the past.

E = I will continue to listen to my body and honour what it is telling me. If it tells me to rest then I should consider why that is. It is likely that last week’s high mileage was a result of my tired legs this week. No big deal. Maybe next time, I can plan my training schedule so that I don’t have three major runs fall on 1 week.

The ABCDE method also helped me banish negative thoughts when I was in recovery from disordered eating. It was one of the first methods I tried, and I have been doing it on and off ever since.

Try it out! I promise you will feel better after doing your ABC’s (and D’s and E’s!).

3. Snap Yourself Back Into It!

You may have heard of the elastic band trick. This is especially helpful for ruminators. Ruminators are people who worry constantly and mull over how events could turn out horrible. You simply wear an elastic band around your wrist and whenever you start ruminating, simply snap the elastic band on your wrist. This easy trick gives a quick (and slightly painful!) reminder that your thoughts started to wander in a negative way.

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Reading Comfort Giveaway #2:

Would you like a chance at winning a beautiful bookmark and an elegant paper weight from Reading Comfort?

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How to enter: Simply leave a comment below telling me one negative thought you have about something in your life and then counter it with one or more positive thoughts.

Contest closes Wednesday Sept. 30th at 2pm EST. Open to US and CAD residents.

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See you later for Part 2!

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

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heather dawn September 29, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I will have to try this method out!
Sometimes when something doesnt go quite as planned, I find myself thinking “You arent good enough. Maybe if you did this (ie, lose weight) people will appreciate you more.” I then have to remind myself of everything I have accomplished at a young age! Going to college, buying a house, buying a car on my own, etc.

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Bronwyn September 29, 2009 at 4:17 pm

SO many entries!

Negative Thought:
I am a horrible leader, and I fail at being a “leader-by-examply”. I’m too bossy/bitchy (pardon my french!)/mean and am totally imcompetent because I’m introverted and shy.

Positive counter:
I am new at being a leader, and consider my social history I am doing fairly well. I am learning as I go, and getting no negative feedback. I do my best to say as I do, and I do my best to be a leader and not a boss. It is a skill that can be mastered.

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Jess September 29, 2009 at 4:26 pm

I LOVE this post …

I’ve had SO many negative thoughts latetly (lots of stuff doing on in life) but I think I”ve been really good at turning things around and being positive. I’m definitely going to try out your methods

The ones that I find myself thinking most are ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not a nice enough person and people don’t like me.’

And, can I request that the next installment be on how working nights affects your wake/sleep cycle? I SERIOUSLY need help with that.

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Catherine September 29, 2009 at 5:41 pm

In July, I took the Texas Bar exam and we won’t know our results until November 6! The exam was brutal and I am so nervous about the results. I often catch myself thinking that there is no way I could have passed it – what a waste of time! When I catch myself in these negative thoughts, I remind myself that I worked hard in law school to graduate cum laude, that I studied hard for the Bar, and that NOT passing is NOT a possibility. :-)

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erica September 29, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Going back to school and resigning from my full time job…sometimes I felt negative about it like I was going backwards! I had to tell myself I am still young and have MANY years of work ahead of me and to enjoy the journey:)

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Jessica September 29, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Yesterday I had a negative thought that i wouldn’t have enough time to work out before class and that i wasn’t really feeling it.
i countered it by telling myself that any workout is good enough and to just do it!
i did … and now im sore today! hehe!
-muffy

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Crystal September 29, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Negative – I’m a failure in everything I do
Positive – I went back to school after a 7 year gap and graduated from College with Honors which is the goal I set out prior to starting College.

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Amanda September 29, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I’ll never lose this extra weight.

I will continue to work hard at keeping my body healthy!

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Dori September 29, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Negative thought – I am going to suck at my Humor Writing class that starts tomorrow

Positive – My blogs are usually pretty funny, I already have a nice baseline of being funny. I will be awesome at this class!

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april September 29, 2009 at 10:13 pm

Great posts!!

Negative thought: No matter how hard your working your arms still don’t look super toned!

Positive replacement: Your doing bicep lifts with 15 pound dumbells.. Your strong!

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Jenny Eastwood September 29, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Awesome!!! Thanks for this post :) It really helped me. So often I have negative thoughts before a run or before an event. I’m definitely going to try the methods you have mentioned to help me nip it in the bud :)

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Tania :) September 30, 2009 at 12:10 am

I am so interested in learning more about this topic that I went to Amazon.com and bought the same textbook. I have surrounded myself with negative thinking too much in my life and have been working very hard to change that!

My negative thought: You are a failure, you’re sloppy with no self control and unless you lose 15 pounds you will always be one.

Positive Truth: I am who I am regardless or weight, dress size, hair color, etc. I am a unique individual with a lot of strengths and gifts to share with the world. :)

Thanks for the book suggestion!!

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Mary September 30, 2009 at 1:28 am

I LOVE this!! I have a very similar post hitting this week on Affirmations, I write tons of affirmations and hang them all over and read them aloud when I am struggling. I love the ABCDE trick, very good! Great post, Love them lots!!

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Tiffany September 30, 2009 at 9:15 am

I recently noticed my clothes feeling a little more snug, and I kept feeling fat because of it. I guess I’ve been indulging a little too much lately. Anyway, I countered it by saying that it’s just a few pounds, my boyfriend still thinks I’m sexy, and I’ll just hit the gym a little harder. No big deal! :)

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Ariel September 30, 2009 at 11:33 am

I love this post! I’ve been feeling badly recently because I’ve gained some weight and my schedule is so full that it is difficult for me to eat and exercise regularly. I feel tired and unproductive. I’d like to counter my negative thoughts with the assertion that I am in control of the way I live my life. I can normalize my schedule again and get back in shape, physically and mentally, and I recognize that I have a lot to be grateful for.

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Lizzy September 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm

I love this new series. Negative thinking is something we all do, but with your methods i think we can all learn something!

Negative thought: (which so happens to have to do with my half) I’m not going to be able to finish because of not sticking to my running schedule to the T

Positive thought: NO matter how many day’s i did or didn’t run, i’m going to do AWESOME. Its about finishing and completing a personal goal! :)

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Urban Girl September 30, 2009 at 1:19 pm

This is a really great series. Thank you for writing it and recommending books. I tend to have numerous negative thoughts and sometimes it’s hard to get out from under them. One that recurs a lot is that I’m not good enough at exercise and I’m not doing as well as I would like (I am not as strong, or as flexible, etc as I would like). I counter it by reminding myself that my body is different each day and it’s important to listen to it and do only my personal best each day, even though that may vary. The important thing is to be moving and learning!

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