I’m going to go out on a limb and say you could use some help with positive thinking.
There is nothing to be ashamed of if your positive thinking is a little off. I am right there with you. 2020 has been one disaster after another for millions of people around the world.
This has been a really challenging year for me too. I am pregnant after some issues earlier in the year. We are overjoyed, but our struggles are always in the back of our mind. We’re also struggling with disappointment that our oldest is not going to have the normal kindergarten experience she was so excited for. We miss friends we haven’t seen in months.
So, like I said, I totally get it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you aren’t a little worried or stressed right now, you’re probably not paying attention.
That’s why rather than talking about how you can stop thinking negatively once and for all and never have another negative thought ever, we talk about what to do when these thoughts come up.
I’ve been so inspired by people’s struggles (and my own!) to create this series on positive thinking. I hope you all find it helpful. Here are links to the previous posts in the series so you can catch up:
In this post, I am going to talk about the benefits of positive thinking, tell you some helpful questions you can ask when negative thoughts pop up, and share some resources with you. Keep reading to find out more!
Disclaimer: I stole these 7 questions from Crazy Head Comics way back in the day, so they deserve all the credit!
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with depression and anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
7 positive thinking benefits
According to MayoClinic, positive thinking is a great medical tool! It makes you happier. Yes, duh. But did you know it actually does some amazing things for you physically? It can truly save your life!
Positive thinking leads to:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
So, let’s dive a little deeper into this.
Obviously awesome. I fully plan to live to at least 100. I want to be able to enjoy my kids, and their kids, and my great grandkids!
Like I mentioned, positive thinking makes you feel happier. But there is so much more to being depressed than a sad mood. It can cause a lot of other unpleasant symptoms, which positive thinking can help with.
Other physical benefits
We’re living in a time where it is very important to be doing what we can to take care of our health. Living in the midst of a pandemic has put immune support front and center in the spotlight. The majority of our immune system lives in our gut, and science is proving more that our mind and gut are connected. This tells us that we can use psychological tools to benefit our immunity!
7 helpful questions for positive thinkingWhen we are working on our positive thinking, it's important to consider our negative thoughts very carefully. In order to challenge them, we need to not ignore these thoughts, but take some time to ponder them. Really chew on them. Share on twitter
Here are 7 questions to help you on your quest for better positivity. Feel free to download the free printable guide at the end of the section to help you work through some of your own thought processes!
Am I falling into a thinking trap?
Am I overestimating danger? Or, am I catastrophizing?
For the purposes of this exercise, let’s say you are convinced you will catch Covid and die. That is a common negative thought that I’m guessing lots of us worriers have experienced.
When this thought comes up, rather than pretending you didn’t think it, or beating yourself up for it, face it, head on! Part of our emotional healing is to accept that our feelings exist, and stop trying to bury them.
“I am worried I will catch Covid and die.” First of all, ask yourself: Am I falling into a thinking trap?
One common thinking trap is catastrophizing, or overestimating danger. You know how growing up your grandma told you not to make mountains out of mole hills? (No? Just mine?) Catastrophizing is defined by Healthline as:
“Catastrophizing is when someone assumes that the worst will happen. Often, it involves believing that you’re in a worse situation than you really are or exaggerating the difficulties you face. For example, someone might worry that they’ll fail an exam. From there, they might assume that failing an exam means they’re a bad student and bound to never pass, get a degree, or find a job. They might conclude that this means they’ll never be financially stable.”
So, when the negative thought pops up, try to figure out if your brain is exaggerating!
Is this a fact or does it sound more like a false belief?
“I am worried I will catch Covid and die.” Is it a fact that you will catch this disease and die from it? Or is it something your mind is telling you? That is another important question to ask.
Oftentimes, when we have anxiety or depression we are so convinced that everything we think is fact.
- I’ll never get better.
- Life is awful.
- There’s nothing to be happy about.
What’s the worst that can logically happen?
This one is kind of tricky in this situation, as the consequences of catching Covid, logically, could be very bad. But I still think the question is helpful.
“I am worried I will catch Covid and die.” Okay, let’s follow a healthy thought process when that thought pops up.
- Are you taking steps to keep yourself healthy?
- Is your insurance up to date?
- Do you have a reliable physician you can trust?
- Do you live near a major medical center that can treat Covid?
- Then, no need to worry!
If you can answer yes to these questions, then there really is no need to worry. If you are not taking precautions and have let your insurance expire, then that is an area of focus to channel your anxious energy into.
Am I 100% sure X will happen?
Has X happened before? Is X so important that my future depends on it?
Again, this one is a little trickier, because we are still learning about how Covid works. But let’s try it, for the heck of it.
“I am worried I will catch Covid and die.” Are you 100% sure about that? Have you ever come down with anything like that? Is the fear of Covid so important that it’s worth wasting your life worrying?
Yes, it is a serious situation, but it’s very important for your mental health to not let a slim possibility become a reality in your mind.
What would I tell a friend who had this thought?
I love this one and it is possibly my favorite question from this list. “I am worried I will catch Covid and die.” If your best friend came to you and told you that, what would you say?
Unless you’re a terrible friend, you would probably say:
- It will be okay.
- You’re doing all you can to stay healthy.
- I’m here for you.
- Nothing bad is going to happen.
If you would tell your best friend this, why don’t you deserve the same courtesy? Love starts from within, and it’s critical to love yourself and show yourself the same support you show others.
Is this a hassle or a horror?
Along the same lines as wondering whether we’re catastrophizing, this question causes us to stop and ask: Is this worth destroying my mental health over? Or is it a temporary inconvenience?
As I mentioned before, obviously getting Covid is a serious thing. But do we need to treat our worries about catching it as an overwhelming, impending reality? Or can we recognize that this will end on day and we’ll go back to being worried about whether the Bears will win on Sunday? (The answer to that worry is, no they won’t, obviously.)
Is this a possibility or a certainty?
“I am worried I will catch Covid and die.” Is it possible you could catch it, if you aren’t careful? Or is it a 100% certainty that you will catch it no matter what?
Again, don’t let your brain lie to you. Picture your mind as your best friend’s partner. What you do if they were being treated that way? Constantly belittled and lied to? You would tell your friend to stop putting up with their crap!
It is not an empirical certainty that you will catch Covid, so do not allow it to take up residence in your mind rent-free.
Download this simple summary worksheet here and use it to combat negative thoughts on a daily basis!
Recommended books for positive thinking
There are a couple of books I would recommend checking out if you want to improve your positive thinking. They are two of my all-time favorite books. You can click each individual image to find out more!
“The Alchemist” is a masterpiece, plain and simple. And what it taught me is that it is vital to our hearts to keep chasing our dreams no matter what happens. Always keep fighting, and work on that positive thinking!
This is my favorite personal development book of all time! It teaches the importance of positive thinking and changing toxic behavior patterns, and how to free yourself from your mental prison.
Positive thinking does not have to feel impossible.
I know that things are really hard right now. We are facing so much uncertainty, not just here in the US, but across the fabric of humanity.
- (In the US) Who is going to lead our country next year?
- When will Covid go away?
- When will the school system go back to normal?
- Will I be able to work normally ever again, or will I be stuck at home?
Positive thinking might be the last thing on your mind, but it really is important to try. We already talked about all the amazing physical and emotions that come with a life of positive thinking, so now we just need to put it into action!
Let me know, in what areas of your life you are struggling with positive thinking the most? Tell me in the comments, and make sure to share this post on social media if you found it helpful. You can do that easily using the buttons at the top of the page!