5 Questions To Help You Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts on paper being cut in half

For my entire life, I have struggled with low self-worth and negative thinking. Maybe it was the perfectionism, maybe it was the lack of confidence—or maybe it was both—but I am the type of person that was always way harder on myself than anyone else ever was on me.  

When I screwed up, I would give myself a mental lashing. I often called myself “stupid” or an “idiot”. I would beat myself up and tell myself I couldn’t do anything right. My mind would also jump to the worst possible conclusion about what was happening around me, escalating my anxiety to a whole new level.  

It took until I was deep in my self-love journey for me to realize that the way I had been talking to myself for years was completely unacceptable.  

I’d gotten to the point where I would not let anyone else talk to me like that, so why was I okay talking to myself in that manner? 

It took a lot of effort, consistency, and training my brain to shift away from my pattern of negative thinking into something that is much more positive. Do I find myself slipping up now and then? Of course. I am only human. But I also know I am strong enough to correct myself when needed, while still giving myself grace.  

There are five questions I liked to use in the beginning to help challenge my negative thinking and I want to share them with you today. 

Questions to help challenge your negative thoughts

Questions To Help You Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

1. Is what I’m thinking a fact or an assumption?

Anxiety is often thought of as worrying about the future, and I struggled for years with severe anxiety. It ended up getting so bad that I started to have severe panic attacks and was unable to function. What I found was that I had given up control of my mind and was just hanging on for the ride. I wasn’t aware that I had the ability to control my thoughts—I thought they were just something that happened. My mind would often jump from one negative thought to the next. I would focus on the worst-case scenario, and I would always assume the worst.  

But most of the time I was worrying about assumptions and not concrete facts. I found it helpful in these times to ask myself, “Is what I’m thinking actually happening, or am I just assuming this might happen?” 

It can take some time to give yourself the permission to let go of those assumptions, but how I got myself to let go is I would always permit myself to get upset again if those assumptions became fact. Ninety-nine percent of the time they didn’t, and this greatly reduced my anxiety and negative thinking.  

2. Are there any other perspectives that would be helpful?

There are always other ways to view a situation. Is there a more positive or neutral perspective that you could choose instead of the negative one?  

For example, instead of thinking, “I can never do anything right,” you could change that thought to “I make mistakes sometimes, but I have also done great things in my life.” Which do you think is more accurate anyway, your logical reasoning or your emotional thinking? Not only is the second thought more accurate, but it is also more positive.  

3. What evidence is there to support this thought?

Most of the time our thoughts are based on our feelings, and not on facts. For example, if you are thinking, “I am awful at my job.” You need to examine the situation closer. Have you ever been in trouble at work? Have you been warned before about your performance? Weren’t you just thanked for all the long hours you put in and given a long service award last month?  

Do you see where I am going with this? Just because you are having a bad day, doesn’t mean you need to jump to the extreme. Evidence will help you argue with those negative thoughts until those negative thoughts are forced to admit defeat and scatter, leaving room for more positive ones to take their place.  

4. What is the best scenario? Worst scenario? Most likely scenario?

Again, this question is about confronting your negative thoughts with cold hard facts. Could a meteor fall from the sky and hit you while you are riding your bike alone at night? Possibly. Is it likely? No.  

What is the best care scenario? You have fun going for a bike ride alone. You get exercise, fresh air, and you feel great. Worst case scenario? You get hit by a stray meteor. Most likely? You get some fresh air, expend some energy, and return home. 

5. Would I say this to a good friend?

This is the one that I used the most when it came to shifting my thinking from negative to positive. When I found I was being hard on myself I would stop and think: Would I talk like this to a good friend? 

There is no way I would be calling anyone I care about stupid, or an idiot. And they would be horrified if they knew I was speaking to myself that way.  

We all deserve to treat ourselves with grace and kindness. Negative self-talk isn’t encouraging or motivating, and after so long we start to believe it deep down.

By treating ourselves with the kindness we treat others with, we nourish ourselves with positivity which allows us to let go of limiting beliefs and motivates us to follow our dreams. 

Final Thoughts… 

The world is already tough enough as it is. By thinking and speaking negatively about myself I was just adding more negativity to the pile. It isn’t surprising to me now that I had such low self-esteem and self-worth growing up. I was being that negative little voice in my head that was keeping myself from succeeding and reaching my full potential. I was allowing myself to hold myself back.  

Not anymore. 

By using these 5 questions, you will be able to shift your negative self-talk from negative to more positive.  

Take care of yourself. 

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