5 Simple Techniques to Shift Negative Thinking to a Positive Approach

Over the years, audiences who’ve seen me in keynotes and workshops have heard me say, “Change isn’t all roses, lollipops, sunshine and rainbows.” Negative thinking can serve a purpose. It can warn you away from something. The flip side is your negative thinking might not be not realistic.

So what can you do?

Here are 5 techniques to determine if your negative thinking is useful and grounded in fact.

Using these will help shift your thinking to a more positive approach:

1. Think about your behaviours as actions, not as a part of your identity.

What you do is not who you are. Actions can be changed. Who you are, cannot be.

2. Don’t be afraid to apologize and take action to improve the consequences of past and potentially negative decisions.

This builds trust with people – whether at work (or at home!). There are few things worse for a staff member during change than when their boss doesn’t own up to their mistakes. When this happens, trust gets broken.

3. Don’t dwell on the failure.

Ask “What can I learn from this?” It sounds easy to do but when we are beating ourselves up about what we “should have” done, it’s easy to forget.

4. On that note, remove the word should from your vocabulary! 

Should creates self-blame about the past. You didn’t do it. So what. Let’s look what you could do next time.

5. Ground negative experiences in the facts.

Do this by asking one of these questions:

  • Is there an alternative explanation as to why this happened?
  • What evidence is there to support this belief?
  • Does doing this really mean that will happen? Or could something else happen?


Use the above techniques to help you determine if the negative thoughts you are having about the change are grounded in fact and warning you away from something. Or, is what you’re thinking not grounded in reality, that may cause you to slip into negative, harmful patterns of thought. You can use negativity to help you. You can take a positive approach in a negative situation. If I can, and all the people I’ve worked with can, you can too!

What have you used to shift your thinking?