Five ways to deal with negative thoughts

Five ways to deal with negative thoughts
30 June 2020    Donnay Torr    0 comments
Life’s challenges getting you down? Skillsroad’s savvy career coaches, Amy and Sarah, share practical, experience-based tips for looking after your mental health in challenging real-life situations.

P.S.: Click on the image below to download our Five Tips to Deal With Negative Thinking infographic below and share with a friend.

Five ways to deal with negative thoughts

How to survive life

Let’s face it: life is tough. We deal with challenges every single day, some big, some small – and most of the time, we manage to come out okay on the other side. But sometimes, we don’t: things get overwhelming, stress hits us, our brains go haywire, all we want to do is curl up in a ball and hide. When the darkness hits, remember three things.

FIRST THING: it’s okay to NOT be okay. Don’t feel guilty about how you’re feeling. It does not make you a less worthy person, or less deserving of love and care.

SECOND THING: It’s more than okay to ask for help – don’t try and go it alone, reach out to a friend, teacher, family member or helpline and let them help you. Asking for help does not make you weak!

THIRD THING: There are ways to respond to that little inner voice that’s telling you that you’re not good enough. Skillsroad’s awesome career coaches, Amy and Sarah, share five ways to tackle negative thinking below.

“I don’t know what to do!”

Not knowing what to do in situations like coping with relationship breakdown, picking a career or struggling with reaching important academic or sporting goals can be really overwhelming.

Solution: Problem-focused coping = breaking down the “massive task” into small, manageable chunks.

For example: if you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed about picking a career or deciding what you want to do with your life, break it down into manageable steps, such as talking to different people about what they do and why, doing online research about jobs or fields that interest you, volunteer or get work experience in a field you think you might enjoy etc.

“I’m just not good enough.”

When we keep failing at doing something successfully (whether it’s something small like getting up early to go to gym, or something big like applying for jobs and getting rejected or not hearing anything back), we start feeling helpless, lose our self-confidence and take our failures as personal rejections.

Solution: Self-compassion = what would you say to a friend in a similar situation?

For example: Your friend tried out for the hockey team so many times, but no luck. Instead of saying “Yeah, you aren’t good enough so that’s why they didn’t give you a spot in the team”, you’d say “You did your best” and “If you keep trying, you’ll get that spot!” Now talk to yourself as if you were talking to a friend. (Need more advice? Read more about how to talk to a friend who’s going through a tough time here.)

“I just don’t care anymore.”

Sometimes, when we try to deal with a challenge for a long time but get nowhere, we can fall into a slump where we lose motivation. It’s a kind of “burn-out”, where you find it hard to keep tackling that task.

Solution: the key to preventing this kind of burn-out is self-care (which isn’t just bubble baths and face masks). It can be as simple as going for a walk outside, eating healthily, getting good sleep and catching up with a friend. This will help to renew your inner energy, which makes it easier to keep chipping away at that task.

“This is too hard.”

Negative thinking and self-defeating thoughts can be difficult to deal with, but it’s important to challenge them and try and change them.

Solution: Weigh the evidence. If you’re thinking thoughts such as “I’ll never get a job” or “I’ll never find love”, look at the evidence that supports these thoughts. What makes me think it’s true? What makes me think it’s not true? What is an alternative way I can look at this? (Reframe the situation.)

For example: Question: What are the actual chances that you’ll never get a job? Answer: If I keep trying, the chances of me not getting a job are very slim.

“This is so unfair!”

Getting angry and blaming external factors for the situation you might be in is normal. It’s okay to indulge in a bit of anger, but it’s very important to not get mired in your own frustration.

Solution: Instead of focusing on the unfairness of the situation and external things you have no control over, focus on what is IN your control.

For example: Brainstorm five things you can do, no matter how small, to start changing your situation. (Improving your grades: pull up a study timetable, find a tutor etc. Finding a job: apply for two jobs a week, call up employers in the area etc.)

Asking for help

The five tips above can help you develop a “response strategy” to use on tough days. And yes, we know that it’s really difficult to act logically on days that your brain just wants to wallow. But it’s important that you try to face each negative thought, try to understand it, and then deal with it using one of the response strategies in your toolkit. But remember: don’t try and go it alone, it’s important to ask for help. Talk to someone you love and trust, or when things get tough, find help here:
  • Online support forum Beyond Blue:, 1300 22 4636. You can also email them, or chat to them online.
  • Kids Helpline’s motto is “Anytime. Any reason.” They focus on ages from 5 to 25 and help you access support groups and peers going through similar tough stuff, so don’t be afraid to use them: or 1800 55 1800
  • Lifeline focuses on crisis support and suicide prevention: or 12 11 14
Whatever happens, remember that you’re not alone. Two Skillsroaders shared their own experiences with anxiety: read more about how they coped by following the links below.

Do you have a friend who’s going through a tough time, but you’re not sure how to help them? Read our tips for how to help a friend who’s going through a tough time here.

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