Managing Conflict in Relationships​


Combat negative thinking using thought awareness.

Negative thinking can be crippling. It’s a key source of stress, and it can make you feel overwhelmed and out of control. This can lead to mental paralysis, and prevent you from achieving what you should.

Positive thinking is the opposite of this. It helps you put a difficult situation into perspective, dispels unnecessary worries, and sets you up to perform well – and enjoy what you’re doing.

So how can you get your thinking onto a more positive path? Well, think of it as a three-stage process.

The first step is “thought awareness” – this is when you become mindful of what’s going on inside your head. Monitor your thinking for a day, and write down any negative thoughts as they occur. There’s a free worksheet for this at You can also keep a diary of stressful events during the day.

The next stage is “rational thinking.” This is when you challenge your negative thoughts. Ask yourself whether each one is reasonable. Is there any basis for it? Would your colleagues or mentors agree with it? Or would they think you were being unduly harsh with yourself?

Write down your rational response to each negative thought. You should be able to see whether or not they have any substance to them. Where they do, take appropriate action to change the situation.

The final stage is to prepare rational, positive thoughts and affirmations to counter any remaining negativity. These should be specific, with strong emotional content, and expressed in the present tense for maximum effect.

For instance, if you were feeling worried about a project at work, you might tell yourself: “I am well trained for this. I have the experience, the tools, and the resources that I need. I have thought through and prepared for all possible issues. I can do a really good job.”

An important part of this final stage is to look at the opportunities each situation might offer you.

By approaching difficult circumstances rationally and positively, you’ll learn new skills, and become known as someone who can handle a challenge. You may even find that new doors open for you.

To find out more about thought awareness, see the article that accompanies this video.


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Marinda Reynecke

Marinda Reynecke

Counselling Psychologist

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