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Dispute Negative Thinking

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So, what are the benefits of disputing negative thinking or changing self-talk?

  • Negative self-talk (or your inner critic) can reduce motivation and confidence

  • Positive self-talk can help you gain perspective and reach your potential

For this exercise, please think about a negative thought or an assumption about yourself and write it down. 

Example: I will not do well on my test on Monday

Now please think of three strong statements that dispute the negative assumption or thought and write those down. For example

  • I have prepared and studied for my test

  • I have done well in the past when I have studied

  • If I give my best effort, that is what is important

Here is a short role-play to demonstrate how you can practice with others in your everyday life: 

  • Sharon: Hi Daniel, are you ready for the test today?

  • Daniel: I'm a little nervous as I may not do well.  

  • Sharon: Have you been practicing the self-talk exercise?

  • Daniel: Yes, I have come up with two challenges to help relieve my nerves so far. 1. I have been studying every day for the last four days. 2. I have never failed a test before. So I could use a little help.

  • Sharon: I am here to help. I know you have been using cue cards to study. Do you find you are getting some of the answers right?

  • Daniel: Yes, I am. I am getting most of them right. There are just a few that I must keep reviewing.

  • Sharon: I think that's a great sign that you are ready for the test.

  • Daniel: Thank Kristin, I needed that last little nudge. I am going to review the last few cue cards. See you at the test.

  • Sharon: Good luck, see you at the test.

The objective here is to get into that habit of countering your negative thoughts with three affirmations. If you can't come up with three on your own, asking a friend to help you come up with the third is a great way to help you overcome negative thoughts. 

If your example is a little more challenging and personal, don't worry; this practice still works. It's okay if you aren't attached to a specific action. In that situation, help from a friend can be even more beneficial. Just like in any sport or skill, this one takes practice. If it feels difficult now, it will get better. And if you practice with a friend, the practice can grow even faster.

Reflections on reducing negative emotions: You have three practical and simple exercises to practice reducing negative emotions. Take time to reflect on how you can make tiny changes in your daily routine to minimize negativity, and reflect on how this helps you. The bonus is that this has a ripple effect and helps others around you vicariously. You are contagious when you are less negative, and other people reap your benefits, reducing the negativity. It's a gift to yourself and others. 


As you become comfortable reducing negative emotions, share the practice with others and keep adding challenges to reduce negativity to your day. However, it is important to remember to honour negative emotions. We experience negative emotions like anger, sorrow, and grief. They play a part in who we are, but we don't need to let them control our day. Instead, we accept them and work to reduce our time in these negative spaces to allow ourselves to thrive. Enjoy the journey. 

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