Research Outline

Negative Thoughts


To help a friend, understand some strategies and techniques on how to help someone stop having negative thoughts.

Early Findings

Forbes Coaching Council Tips

  • The Forbes Coaching Council is a group of top career and personal coaches, and they were asked for their tips on how to eliminate negative thoughts.
  • Rather than trying to ignore negative thoughts, be aware when they pop up and address them. Internally, tell yourself that you are having a negative thought, it is a story you are telling yourself, and it is not true. Breathing techniques can help people work through negative thoughts.
  • Be around positive people. People tend to behave like those around them, so being around positive thinking, optimistic people can help eliminate negative thoughts.
  • Design and implement a positive morning routine. Thinking begins as soon people awake and one strategy for starting out on a positive path is to read something positive and encouraging each morning.
  • According to the displacement theory, people can't think about more than one thing at a time. When someone is having a negative thought, that needs to be replaced with thinking about something else. This could be something that makes the person happy, or something they want to do.

Tips for Helping a Negative Friend

  • Negative people often don't see themselves as negative, rather they believe they are simply responding to the world around them. As it is hard to know what is happening in their lives and what might be at the root of the problem, do not be judgmental of their attitude.
  • Since it is important not to reinforce the negativity, keep emotions in check when dealing with someone who is negative. Three strategies to follow are to only focus on solutions; be a good listener and son't interrupt; and try not to react too strongly as negative people are often looking for people to react strongly.
  • Setting boundaries ensures that the negative person is not being enabled. If engagement with someone who is being negative is causing frustration, exhaustion, and feelings of depletion, it is time to temporarily walk away. If walking away isn't an option, going silent can often eliminate some of the power the person is getting from their negativity.
  • Appreciative inquiry is the practice of asking questions that lead someone to notice the positive aspects of a situation. Although this is often defined in relation to corporations, the same practices can be used with individuals. The basics of the strategy is to focus on the 4 Ds: discovery, dream, design, and destiny.

Tips for Helping Someone with Depression

  • Negative thinking can cross over into the clinical realm of depression and may require different strategies to help.
  • If it is believed that someone is depressed, it is important to be educated about what that means. This can involve becoming more educated on the topic or putting yourself in their shoes to understand more fully what they are dealing with.
  • Feeling angry and upset about the situation is normal. People who are supporting those with depression need to make sure they are taking care of themselves and have an outlet for all the feelings that arise.