Challenging Your Thoughts
The key to real success in positive thinking is to find as many ways as possible in which to challenge the validity of your negative thoughts, and then to replace those thoughts with others that are more positive and more realistic.
Rethinking Your Thoughts
To turn negative thoughts into positive ones, you have to realize that they are distortions of reality. Nothing is ever all bad; it is only your defensive thinking that makes it seem so. So get into the habit of analyzing your thoughts to see where you have misinterpreted things and therefore where your negativities are misplaced. Rebalancing thoughts likes this creates a shift of emotion and starts you thinking differently long-term - and so has a deeprooted effect on your approach to life.
Checking the Facts
As soon as you become aware of a negative thought, challenge its validity. It may be that your observations were wrong, or you misunderstood what really happened. So question events. Check information with an objective source. For example, was your colleague correct to predict layoffs, or was she dramatizing? A problem you thought you saw may turn out to be nonexistent.
Reviewing Your Track Record
You can probably remember a time when you expected the worst, only to find things turned out for the best. Being aware of this will help you challenge any negative thoughts you are having now and will remind you of a tendency to think negatively. Acknowledge that your judgment has been wrong before, and you will more easily accept that you might be wrong this time, as well.
It is natural to want to be perfect, but aiming for perfection inevitably leads to negative feelings simply because - in work, play, friendship, or love - perfection just is not possible most of the time. So challenge your perfectionist thoughts. Be realistic in what you expect of yourself, of other people, of the world. Do not stop aiming high, achieving well, or expecting the best of others, but stop feeling bad when things do fall short of perfection in some way.
Keeping Things in Perspective
Even when a situation is truly bad, you can avoid becoming overwhelmed by negativity. To do this, you need to stop focusing on problem areas and concentrate on the good ones. So bring to the front of your mind elements that turned out well. Focus on the positives rather than generalizing the negatives. Check for signs that you are exaggerating the difficulties, and remember that just because one element of your life goes wrong, it does not mean everything will.
Looking on the Bright Side
The Chinese word for “problem” also means “opportunity.” The lesson here is to challenge negative thoughts by looking for the opportunity that lies within a problem. Maybe you learned a lesson, gained motivation, avoided a problem? Train yourself to look for a silver lining, even in small difficulties.