How many times has someone told you to stay positive? How many times has this made you frustrated? If you’re living with a chronic disease or an invisible illness, well-meaning individuals can make life even more challenging when they tell you to stay positive.
The advice comes from a good place. Research shows that positive thinking helps with managing stress and can improve overall health. Mayo Clinic notes that positive thinking can help provide an increased life span, lower rates of depression, better coping skills and improved psychological and physical well-being.
However, learning how to stay positive when struggling with or suffering from chronic conditions can be tricky. Frustration can lead to anger, and anger can lead to even more frustrating, pessimistic thoughts.
No one is perfect, so no matter how strong your willpower, even if you’re determined to think positive, negative thoughts can creep in. Whether you’re an expert on overcoming negative thoughts or you’re learning for the first time, use these steps to find your way to better health and positive transformations.
1. Admit you’re upset, frustrated or angry, and write about it.
The first step is one of the most difficult steps you’ll encounter. It may seem easy when you feel at ease, but when you’re upset or feeling down, having the strength to sit down and make yourself write is tough. You may have feelings of self-doubt or think writing will not work, but we urge you to try. Write a lot at first, and then see if you can sum your feelings or thoughts into one simple sentence. Do not worry about spelling or coherence if you can understand. This is for you, only unless you believe your thoughts might help you communicate better with your healthcare provider at your next appointment.
I am the worst at planning meals.
2. Reword and rewrite.
Once you summarize your feelings, reword them to add a positive element.
I can get better at planning meals with practice and dedication.
3. Rehearse your new thought.
Rewrite and say the replacement thought over and over. If the old thought returns, keep writing the new thought to overlap the negativity. It can be hard to find the motivation to follow through, but remember that every day is a work in progress. No one expects you to be perfect. You’re allowed to make mistakes and overcome them.
Ultimately, success does take time and, in some cases, a lot of effort. If you need more help overcoming negative thoughts, find a free chronic disease self-management course in your area. During the course, you will learn several techniques for overcoming self-defeating thoughts.