How To Beat Negative Thinking: Part 2

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

Good afternoon!

I hope you are having a good day so far.

I am trucking along on my To-Do list…


I use Gmail Calendar for my major tasks and then I also tend to write out a daily To-Do list so I have something tangible in front of me to check off. I find crossing off lists is so satisfying! I always think of things as the day goes by, so my list gets added to as I think of them. Any leftover tasks that are unchecked at the end of the day get transferred to tomorrow’s list!

How To Beat Negative Thinking: Part 2

Missed Part 1?

4. Play The Paper Clip Chain Game

I read about this trick for the first time last night and this morning I decided to try it out because it sounded really fun.

How it works: What you do is create a Paper Clip Chain by adding a paper clip for every negative thought that you have.

For example, if you think, ‘Oh my boss is going to think I did a bad job on this task’ that equals 1 paperclip.

Here is my Paper Clip Chain after this morning:


I was able to catch 12 negative thoughts in action!!!! I’m sure there were more too that I just missed.


It was quite surprising, especially considering that I consider myself to be quite positive!

It really helped me:

1) Recognize the negative thought, and

2) Help to counter it as I clipped on the paperclip.

The great thing about this game is that you can play it at school or work and no one will be the wiser! ;)

5. Remember The Good Stuff

We all deal with negative people in our lives that try to bring us down. When you are faced with a negative comment or action, try to remember the good stuff.

For example, if your sister says to you, ‘Your jeans are looking a big snug today, did they shrink in the wash?’, immediately try to remind yourself of a positive time surrounding your jeans or legs.

Perhaps, your boyfriend told you that you have gorgeous legs or your best friend said she would die to have your athletic legs. Or maybe all you need to do is remind yourself of a kick-butt workout that you had and how proud you were that your legs were able to carry you through it.

Counter the negativity as soon as possible before you let it even register!

6. Start Thinking of Yourself as a Positive Person

When I started this blog, I was amazed at how many people said I had an infectious positivity about me. This was a bit surprising to hear because I still struggle with negative thoughts all the time! However, hearing these words made me start to think that maybe I could be a positive person! Once I started to believe that I was, it was contagious. When I pictured myself as a happy and positive person, I found that I started to act in a manner that was congruent with this schema. Positivity breeds positivity!

7. Pay someone a compliment

As you may have witnessed from Operation Beautiful, paying others compliments can really increase the positivity that you feel about yourself. If you are feeling negative about yourself, try saying something nice to the next person that crosses your path.

I know for myself, I often think nice things about people but I am too shy to tell them!!!! Sometimes, I decide to take the leap and say it out loud and I am often surprised at how good this makes me feel in return. It is especially fun to tell a complete stranger on the street a compliment.

I challenge you to pay a compliment to the very next person you see!!!!


Have you ever received a compliment by a complete stranger? What was it and how did you feel? Do you ever tell strangers compliments or do nice things for people you don’t know?

Once I was was in a store picking up a few items and this older lady came up to me and said I had a beautiful smile. I was just floored and I couldn’t stop smiling whenever I thought of it.


No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. — Eleanor Roosevelt

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynna September 29, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Great post. I think the negative/ positive thought exercise is really useful. I tried it myself for the first time last night and it made me feel a little better.

I’m still on the edge of my seat for the rest of “A Year Can Change A Lot” though!

Good luck with the rest of that to-do list.


Angela (Oh She Glows) September 29, 2009 at 2:24 pm

It’s coming….promise!! :) They take a long time to write, haha


natalie September 29, 2009 at 2:07 pm

This was so great! I loved both of these posts!!

#1 Yes I have recieved a compliment from a complete stranger. I was at the grocery store and I was tending my niece. This woman came up and told me she had been watching me with my little niece (Who she thought was my daughter) She told me how kind and gentle of a mother I was. She told me that this little girl was lucky to have me.

Although it wasn’t my daughter it made me feel so good. I felt proud as an aunt and it gave me confidence for when I will be a mother. It was lovely!

#2 My mom always taught me that if i thought something nice about someone it was important to tell them. I try to live by that. Even if it is a stranger! One time I saw the cutest pregnant girl ever…i told her how cute she looked and she broke down crying. She told me she was having a horrible day she was feeling fat and ugly and that compliment meant the world to her.
WOW!! I will never forget it!


Lizzie September 29, 2009 at 2:13 pm

I would love to be able to compliment strangers, especially other women. I see women everyday, either rocking a great pair of jeans, or nice bracelet and I would love to say something, but don’t want them to think I am a weirdo. The 12 year old girl I baby-sit for has no qualms about it. You should have seen the look on this 50-something woman’s face in the supermarket when she told her how much she loved her necklace – this woman was seriously shocked (and also obviously very appreciative)! I loved it!

Heaps to think about . . . . thanks Angela!


Leah @ Simply Fabulous September 29, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Hey girlie!

I ALWAYS use paper to-do lists… I love checking things off as I go. It’s great to see it dwindle. Remember the to-do list I posted of the ‘wedding to-dos”?? Oh my gosh, there was so many but I loved seeing the list go down and I always had it in front of me whenever I sat at the computer so it was staring me in the face and I knew I had to get it done haha.

I’m a big fan of remembering the positives.. that always helps me.

PLUS, I like to remind myself that many situations that are stressful or negative are often temporary. So when i’m in a bind I always think “this will not last long” and I am able to truck my way through it.


Amari September 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Positivity is definetly contagious without a doubt! I am also always shy to pay random people comliments but if I think back to times when I was complimented and how it made me feel I think it is silly to be so shy about it! Who doesn’t love a compliment? Great post!


Chloe September 29, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Just yesterday someone told me they liked my shoes, and it made my mood a lot better. Normally I don’t tell strangers if I like what they’re wearing or how they look, but every so often I do and it makes me feel great knowing I just gave them a little boost.

The paper clip game is a good one, I’ll have to do that for a day because I know have way too negative nancy’s floating around my head.


Jennifer Q September 29, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I think compliments from strangers are the best. They have nothing to gain so it’s almost like you can trust them more.

I live in the deep south (Mississippi) and talking to strangers is not a big deal. You like a strangers shirt, you tell them. You make eye contact, you smile and say hello. There are no strangers in the south. Just funny accents! =)


Jessica @ How Sweet It Is September 29, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Great follow up. I am going to play the paper clip game!


Krista September 29, 2009 at 3:09 pm

i find such great satisfaction in crossing things off lists that i will sometimes write things down i’ve already done that day, just so i can cross them off :).


Allison September 29, 2009 at 3:11 pm

That is one serious to-do list girly!!! Good job keeping organized and getting everything done! Nothing feels better than crossing things off once you’ve completed them :)


christie, honoring health September 29, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Good job on getting all your stuff done! hooray for marked off to do items!

I have rec’d compliments from strangers before. It used to make me feel uncomfortable but now, it just brightens my day and I feel thankful that I have become a positive thinker instead of always thinking negative things!


Kristin September 29, 2009 at 3:19 pm

One time I saw a young guy (we were about the same age I was just younger then) I had seen in several community theater productions and really loved. Without even thinking about it I ran up to him and started gushing about how much I loved him him the plays I had seen him in. I felt a little embarassed afterwards but I bet I made his day.


Whitney @ Lettuce Love September 29, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I like the paper clip trick! I am going to start doing that. And you are definitely right, positivity is contagious!


ReinventingSandyB September 29, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Hi Angela,
LOVE that you make lists. My WHOLE BLOG is based on a to-do list! Anyways, I really want to commend you for being brave enough to put your personal thoughts out there like this. Also, sharing what you’ve learned about positive thinking.. well, that just makes you awesome.

Get this, I recently interviewed a fitness model who says that, once a day, she does something kind for a TOTAL STRANGER. Could be paying for an unexpected manicure while she’s getting her own nails done, covering the bill for someone’s dinner or giving away something she knows that person has admired. Best part… she does this ANONYMOUSLY! She wants nothing in return – just makes her feel good. Anyway, on my “to-do list” is to try this for ONE WEEK.


Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries September 29, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Sounds like an out-of-the-ordinary model! I agree, though, that doing acts of kindness anonymously makes you feel better. It reminds me of that Friends episode where Joey and Phoebe fight over the fact that there is no act of kindness that is truly selfless because you get the gratification of knowing you did something for someone else


ReinventingSandyB September 29, 2009 at 8:19 pm

This lady that I interviewed was one of the most positive people I’ve met in a while. And, you know, her career in the fitness industry is taking off in a big way. When I asked her what her secret was, she said, “I stay positive, no matter what, and good fortune just comes to me..” She said her positive attitude always sets off a chain of events of good things.

She inspired me.


Kristen @ September 29, 2009 at 3:46 pm

I loved these positivity posts, Ange. I find myself being negative quite often, and these tips will come in handy.

As for compliments from strangers, I once had the receptionist for a non-profit organization I volunteered with in college tell me that my smile could light up a room. At the time, I was really struggling with my weight and had a very low opinion of myself. This act of kindness from a stranger made me feel like a million bucks. I think I’ll return the favor by complimenting a stranger today. :-)


Mellissa September 29, 2009 at 3:46 pm

I just got a random nice compliment from a stranger last week, I was in the checkout line at a grocery store when a older woman stopped and told me she thought I was just so pretty! I stopped and said thank you for making my day! That was so nice of her to say.


caitlin September 29, 2009 at 3:54 pm



Katie September 29, 2009 at 5:15 pm

I love the quotes you have at the end of your entries. I’m rather obsessed with quotes and always write down and keep the ones that strike a chord with me. You always seem to have ones that I’ve never come across…I love it!


Jenn Eats Nutritiously Now September 29, 2009 at 5:35 pm

The paper clip idea is so neat! I’m really loving this series of blog posts. Thanks for writing them!


Jolene ( September 29, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I have received compliments from complete strangers, and they always make my day :-) I occasionally compliment strangers, although sometimes I am too shy.


maria September 29, 2009 at 6:46 pm

I like the paperclip game. It sounds fun and could be really helpful. I think you are really positive, and I would love to become more positive.

It takes time!


Kristin (Kristins Nibbles) September 29, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Another great post! I really do need to reign in on my positive thoughts. From the outside, I’m very positive! But not always on the inside.

Thanks for the inspiration!!



Christine September 29, 2009 at 7:04 pm

My daughter and I were in a chocolate store on Valentine’s Day. We were waiting in line behind one gentleman and as he finished paying for his purchases he turned to my 10 year old daughter and gave her a basket full of valentine treats. This random act of kindness made her day.


Cara (Cara Craves...) September 29, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Right now I am currently living in South Korea. Koreans are always in awe of how different I look to them. So on many occasions, usually once of twice a week, I will be walking down the street or shopping in the store and people will tell me how beautiful I am. It catches me off guard a bit because people in Canada would just not do that, but Koreans just tell it like it is. They will be very forward and say “your eyes are so beautiful, or you are gorgeous…with the limited English that they know. It’s pretty funny.


Cynthia (It All Changes) September 29, 2009 at 7:09 pm

I was once told by a person at the gym that they had noticed me get back to running after my back surgery and I looked and was doing amazing. I was shocked and smiled really big because I had worked hard and someone not close to me had notice.

I complimented a girl in line at Starbucks on her beautiful tattoo the other day. She looked at me crazy and then said thanks. It made me feel great.


Rachel September 29, 2009 at 7:35 pm

You know when you notice/admire something about something, and then second guess whether or not you should compliment them on it?

It could be because you don’t even know the person, maybe they’re a boss and you think it might look like sucking up, or maybe you know them very well and want to get to know them even better!

I don’t know exactly when I started doing it, but I tell myself that every time I admire something in another person (i.e. even smt as simple as, oh, their necklace stands out), I compliment them on it.

More times than not it puts a big smile on their face, and mine. It can also open up conversation (i.e where did you get it, does it stand for something special?).

I think that so many times we censor what pops into our minds for whatever reason, that sometimes we censor the stuff that’s worth saying too?


Eliana September 29, 2009 at 8:59 pm

I often give compliments to people, it makes me feel good and it makes them feel good, and why not let them know how great their smile is? or how nice the shirt is?

I am sure it makes someone feel good for the day when a complete stranger lets them know how good they did at something. ;o)

BTW, I havent gotten a replied from my email, LOL. I am teasing you since you had that marked off in your list, I am sure you get 100000s of emails a day. ;o)

Have a lovely evening.



Kari September 29, 2009 at 9:40 pm

I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed reading this post. I think the part about giving compliments is so true. It can really make a difference in someone’s life.

I had a complete stranger give me a compliment once and I still think about that. I had just gotten married and had moved 2,000 miles away from family. I was living on the west coast in an area known for really attractive people and I felt totally out of my element and not very fabulous. A lady walked up to me in the grocery store out of the blue one day and said “I just wanted to tell you that you look fabulous and I used to be a model.” I guess she told me the model part so I’d believe that she really knew what fabulous looked like. I was really surprised and sort of mumbled a thank you back. I don’t know if I really acknowledged her very much because it caught me off guard. But I think about that every once in awhile and smile and think that was awesome of her to tell me that.


Candyce September 29, 2009 at 10:43 pm

What a great post. I am definitely going to try to implement as many of these ideas as I can. I, too, have considered myself a positive person, but now that I’m trying to return to the workforce (unsuccessfully so far) after staying at home, I find myself sinking into very negative thoughts.

Most of the recent compliments from strangers have been regarding my toddler daughter, and I take those as complimentary of her, me, and my husband. It feels good to have a complete stranger validate your parenting skills! Especially when you’ve had a bad day ;)

I need to be more mindful about complimenting people. Thank you again for this post!!


Dara September 29, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Thanks for all of these awesome posts! Now that I know you are into such “nerdy” books, can I recommend a couple (brain/body/mind related)?!
All of this positive thinking stuff/strategies reminds me of lessons we did during group therapy in ED outpatient! It really makes me happy that you are posting this stuff, because it is truly helpful to everyone! Sometimes people don’t know that they are hurting themselves with their thoughts. Also, for those of us that have been through treatment, there are always mental relapses, and it is THESE techniques that are often forgotten to help one cope! Thanks love! :)


Deb (Smoothie Girl Eats Too) September 29, 2009 at 11:26 pm

OH Thanks for the reminder- I put up a bunch of Operation Beautiful post-its at the Norris Cancer hospital today and I need to download them and get them over to Caitlin! Thanks! :-)


Jenny Eastwood September 29, 2009 at 11:35 pm

A few months ago when I went blonde for the first time in my life, I came to school as usual, and I passed a girl I’ve never met before in my life, and she looked me in the eye, smiled widely and said “You’re hair looks really really good!” It made me feel happy and positive for the rest of the day. Also, my first comment I received from a stranger on my blog, congratulating me on making a new 5k PR. It was so motivating to push myself further, and I felt so proud of my achievement.
Thanks for this post :) I’m going to try the paper-clip idea. I often think negative thoughts and I need to nip it in the bud!
And yes, you are a wonderfully positive person. It’s part of the reason I love your blog. I feel so happy and motivated after reading your posts. You have no idea how much your blog has helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle with a positive attitude.
THANKYOUU!! xoxoxoxo


Morgan @ Life After Bagels September 29, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Angela my to do lists look exactly like yours. I do them for my household, my homework, at work, grocery lists, packing lists, everything. SO SATISFYING to check off that little box. Also, thank you for your paperclip idea, I’d love to try it out. I consider myself positive but I’m sure I’d get an awakening with that type of tracker.


WholeBodyLove September 30, 2009 at 12:34 am

I really like to compliment strangers. Wierd, I know. But, if I see a girl with a cute outfit or a buff arms ( I want chiseled arms a la Mrs. President!) I want to tell her that she looks great! Why not use the truth to make someone’s day better?


MJ (Dubai Dossier) September 30, 2009 at 1:13 am

I need to start with the to-do lists! Maybe I don’t because I’m more of a function in chaos type. I really like the paper clip idea, it’s amazing how they could add up so quickly. And it’s so important to not let the negativity have a overbearing presence in your life.


Shannon September 30, 2009 at 6:32 am

It really is amazing how a comment from a stranger can make your day! I like how you said that once you started thinking of yourself as a positive person, you became a positive person. Self-perception influences our behaviors so much!


MizFit September 30, 2009 at 6:41 am

I know for me when I received compliments from strangers and I wasnt comfortable in my own skin—it skeeved me out (technical term :)).

I immediately thought WHAT DO THEY REALLY WANT FROM ME?!

about ten years ago I realize they wanted absolutely nothing :) and this all coincided with my becoming completely at east with who I am.

being 40 really and truly is a gift.


Emily September 30, 2009 at 9:45 am

I love that quote at the end! I just put in on my facebook.
Something great someone used to tell me… I used to go into a grocery store every day at lunch to buy fruit (or on a bad day, dark chocolate) and the guy at the counter told me everyday I should be a model! Every day, and not in a creep I-am-trying-to-pick-you-up way. I used to go there jsut to see him hahaha.
Anglea, have you ever had negative feedback from your blog? bad comments or embarssing moments? I want to start one but am scared that it wont be well received.


Tay September 30, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Angela – I really want to thank you for these overcoming negativity posts. I’m really working with your suggestions, and have even been doing the “cross-out” activity. Thank you for your continuous advice, inspiration, and GLOW! :-D


Pat July 29, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I’ve been reading everyones comments- inspiring .. I need to work on this so that I stop playing things out on my head! Drives me crazy with worry about things don’t even happen..


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