Transform your Negative thinking into Positive actions


Have you ever wondered how much time you spend thinking about negative or distressing situations? Or how often do you mentally replay what’s not working in your life? According to research, an average person has approximately 60,000 thoughts per day, of which 75% are negative and almost 95% are repetitive. Those are critical figures of negative thinking patterns that eventually become undesirable and depressing feelings that easily convert into irrational and destructive acts. They can stunt our personal, professional and social growth significantly, feeding into mood and anxiety disorders in people.

In one such instance, I was walking to the lobby to fetch my fourth client of the day when I saw this tall beautiful lady with prominent stress lines on her forehead. She gave me a warm smile as she sat in the therapy room and started sharing about a couple of her friends from her community in Dubai. They had isolated her and her husband from popular parties by simply saying that the parties catered to a younger crowd or they forgot to invite them. She was visibly sad on hearing the excuses and experienced a mild panic attack while going through the social media accounts of her friends.  She felt stuck thinking about their unpleasant encounters in the elevator or the park, the cold exchanges and impolite smiles. She felt baffled at how her family was being discounted by the friends she once had, and her mind frantically tried to figure out a thousand reasons why it happened to her and her family only.

This quest to find reasons and the helplessness to find a way back to the social group made her think all negative things through the day. She started feeling that they didn’t belong in Dubai, or they were misfit as a family, or she was being targeted as she was the only working woman in the group, or simply that her family wasn’t rich enough to hang out in this group. She felt that negative thoughts ruled her day, leaving her utterly exhausted and unable to attend to her own family. She said it was a running commentary of negative events in her head even when she’s deep in work and she can see that now she was drawn to reading about depression, social isolation, anxiety and loneliness. She also felt that her negative thoughts were getting out of control, and she feared that from day-ruiner they would become life-ruiner for her.  And so she decided to meet a Psychologist and ended up in my therapy room.

I see a similar pattern of Negative thoughts branching out uncontrollably in many of my clients. They are known as negative automatic thoughts and are well explained by the 5Cs model.  This model underlines the 5 components of complaining, criticising, concerning, commiserating, and catastrophising. This cycle of misguided negative thinking makes it harder to maintain a healthy outlook in life.

So, the important question is “How do we deal with negative experiences or thoughts in life?”. I have a few suggestions that are well drawn from the research on cognitive behaviour therapy and positive psychology methods.

Challenge your negative thoughts

Negative thoughts have the power to colour how we view the world. I see that most of my clients suffer from anticipatory anxiety, which is that they are usually worried about something that’s about to happen in the future. These worries can often be challenged as they have no evidence of existence. Because negative thoughts are often more based on perception and assumption, they can be overcome by asking oneself a series of questions.

In the example of my client, she was bothered about her friends excluding her and her family from the social group and desperately wanted to be a part of the group again too. She once told me that she wants friends who form her core and thinks that these groups of people are ignorant and just cuckoo in the head. And so I challenged her negative thinking by asking her, “ So, do you want the cuckoo to be your core?”. She was surprised and said a loud no.  That question helped her reflect on the way she was thinking about her situation and disengage her thoughts from the concern.

Invest in finding solutions

Most people just dwell on problems and get stuck in a negative thought cycle. When you catch yourself troubled by a negative pattern of thinking, stop and strategically start to find solutions. Start by focusing on one small area of improvement. Find or explore a simple solution, then apply it to the problem at hand and wait for the positive results. If the solution does not work, then find an alternate approach and reapply it to the problem. Be more proactive and seek solutions at all levels. Make this a way of life.

A resilient social support system

Make an active choice in building a support system that comes to your rescue while you’re mentally or emotionally exhausted. A good social group can be like a booster in your depressive stages, they can uplift you from sorrows. So, make a rational decision to invest in people around you who can be your strong boosters and provide you with healthy feedback and advice.

Practice self-acceptance and gratitude

Self-blame or self-criticism is a common practice during negative thinking patterns. There is pressure to improve or “fix” yourself all the time so sometimes it’s okay to host an unhelpful thought and do nothing about it until it passes. Develop compassion for yourself and create an intention to first choose yourself in all situations. This brings in validation and confidence.

Gratitude is also a powerful way to shift your mindset from negative to positive. When you’re grateful for the good things in your life, you can cultivate a more positive outlook and reduce the influence of negative thoughts. Journalizing can be very helpful in building emotional resilience and strength.

Live a 4 dimensional life

We often live a 2-dimensional life juggling between work and home. To develop a preventive approach to negative thinking, it is good to add the other two dimensions to your daily life. The third dimension is a recreation or hobby that helps you unwind and improve your self-perception. It could be a walk, gym, dance, baking, play sports etc. The fourth dimension is community engagement which helps you find a profound purpose in life. Extending yourself to social work regularly can help you enjoy a fuller life and rejuvenate your compassion and positive feelings.

As they say, Adversity allows us to Reshape our lives. And the first rule of reshaping is developing an intention for positive change. By adapting to some of the above methods, one can remind oneself that more thinking doesn’t necessarily work.

psychologist in dubai

Dr. Sonakshi Ruhela

Counselling Psychologist | Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy | Behavioral & Lifestyle interventions



Dr. Sonakshi Ruhela is a Community Development Authority (CDA) licensed Psychologist with over 12 years of experience in the field of Counselling, Psychotherapy, Behavioral-Lifestyle interventions, Neuro-linguistic programming and Psychometric assessment.

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