Changing Negative Thoughts

Sometimes you can get into the habit of thinking in ways that are unhelpful.
Learning to recognise negative thoughts can help you to start changing them.

Mind Reading

You think that you know what other people are thinking. Usually, you believe they think badly of you. You never check to see what they really think.

How to Break The Habit

Try thinking the opposite. Assume everyone thinks well of you.

Fortune Telling

You predict the way things will turn out in the future. Usually, you think things will go badly for you.

How to Break The Habit

Try imagining a positive outcome. Assume everything will work out well.


You exaggerate your mistakes and other people's successes. You think you are hopeless and will never be as good as anyone else.

How to Break The Habit

Look at the facts. Everyone has good and bad qualities. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes and get some things right. Remember that that includes you.

Tunnel vision

You focus on one bad thing and forget all the good things. You see one bad quality in yourself and ignore your good qualities.

How to Break The Habit

Expand your view. Write a list of the good things. Spend some time thinking about them for a change.

Assuming the Worst

You assume something is bad, even when you don't know all the facts. You jump to conclusions quickly.

How to Break The Habit

Assume the best. Check the facts before making a judgement.

Not counting the good

You reject good experiences by saying they do not matter. You use this as an excuse to hold onto a negative thought.

How to Break The Habit

Accept the good things that happen in your life. Let go of negatives that weigh you down.


You give yourself a negative label (I'm a loser) rather than just describing what went wrong (I made a mistake) or how you feel (I feel sad). You may do the same to others.

How to Break The Habit

If you are feeling sad, say you are sad, but do not take the extra step of labelling.

Moving from emotion to fact

You assume your negative emotions are facts about the way things really are (I feel it, therefore it must be true).

How to Break The Habit

Recognise that while emotions are real, they are internal and not facts about the world.

Shoulds and musts

You use 'should' and 'must' to push you along. You feel guilty when you do not meet them and angry when others don't.

How to Break The Habit

Let go. Give yourself some breathing space. Accept that you cannot control the behaviour of others.


You see yourself as the cause of some negative event, but you were not responsible for it.

How to Break The Habit

Look at the facts. Let yourself off the hook.

Seeing it as all or nothing

You see things as all good or all bad. If you make a mistake, you see it as total failure.

How to Break The Habit

Try to find the middle ground. Recognise that there is good and bad in everything and everyone. Nothing is black and white.

More Resources

Go Here →