How you think about things can affect how you feel.  Depression is often accompanied by negative thoughts that can be discouraging and lower your self-esteem.  Such negative thoughts may have been present even before you became depressed and may continue even as you notice improvement in your mood and energy.

Negative thoughts may show up in your mind as ideas such as “nothing can help me” or “I’m a loser.  I’m no good.” When such negative messages pop into our minds frequently, we tend to believe them no matter how untrue they are.  Part of your recovery, therefore, involves replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts

Going from negative to positive can be achieved by training your mind to look at situations and events from a new perspective.

Here’s a three step program to start you on the road to positive thinking:

Step one: recognize the negative thought.

You may be so used to a negative thought that you are not even aware of it.  Disapproving messages such as I’m a failure, I’m stupid, all never feel better, I’m not likable, etc., can slip into your mind unexpectedly.

The first step in getting out of negative thinking is recognizing the negative thought.  Take a moment and list five negative thoughts that come to mind and how these thoughts make you feel.

Step two: acknowledge how the negative thought makes you feel

For each negative thought, use one or two words for the feeling that followed.

Step three: change the negative thought to a positive thought

Now that you’ve listed your negative thoughts, change them into positive affirmative statements.  Examples of how to do this are: “I’m a loser” becomes “I’m okay”; “nothing will ever change” becomes “I can make a difference”; “I’ll never be happy” becomes “I am going to be happy.”

Changing negative thoughts to positive ones may be a challenge for you because you may be so used to self-defeating phrases such as “I can’t, I’m tired, I’m worried, on board, I shouldn’t, I’m frightened.”

As you write the positive thoughts on your worksheet, focus on a positive “can do” approach, and use phrases such as “I can handle it”…  “It is possible”…  “I am able to,” etc.  Write the statement in the present tense as if that is the way things are happening now.  Once you can see yourself in a positive way, you have begun to create this reality in real life.