Gaining a Positive Attitude – How to Let go of Negative Thoughts

by Frank Ciecierski

Negative Attitudes on the Rise

I believe negativity has increased in the last two years. People are negative about work, about finding a job, about family, about friends, about school, about politics, about life.

In the past two years approximately 70% of my coaching clients have had negative attitudes about something or have had to deal with people with negative attitudes. Those negative attitudes revolved around:

  • Frustration
  • Mistrust
  • Anger
  • Hostility
  • Complaining
  • Confrontation
  • Fault Finding
  • Selfishness


  • Inflexibility
  • Nagging
  • Pessimism
  • Sarcasm
  • Skepticism
  • Boastfulness
  • Rudeness
  • Intimidation
  • Arrogance
  • Nit-Picking
  • Passing Judgment
  • Making Excuses
  • Clinging to the Past
  • Playing Favorites
  • Interrupting
  • Not Listening

Negative Vs. Positive Thinking

Being positive or negative boils down to a choice. First and foremost, you need to understand and confront the issue. If you don’t own the negativity, it is difficult to change it to positive thinking. Focus on the roots of negativity.

Some people are naturally excellent “black hat thinkers.” That is, they automatically go to the reasons something won’t work or outline the problems with what is being discussed. They need to listen to others first before offering their ideas.

For other people there is a specific reason for the negative bias, such as the talk in the workplace or at home, low self esteem, exposure to negative attitudes, or a history of perceived failures or losses, to name a few.

The more time we spend in negative thinking and acting, the more it becomes who we are, and we can eventually become overwhelmed by it.

One of the secrets is that positive people can find positivity in moments that may seem negative. They do this by talking to themselves in a certain way internally.

Some Difficult Negative People

Complainers are full of perpetual negativity. They will tell you that nothing ever goes right in their lives, nothing good ever happens to them, the only luck they have is bad luck, they never seem to catch a break. Complaining can become addictive. The more you complain, the easier it is to complain.

Confrontational people are pushy and aggressive. Basically, they don’t listen. For confrontational people their rights as an individual take precedent over another person’s rights. Some types include the bully, the shouter, and people with loud body language. These kinds of individuals enjoy a hostile, face-to-face disagreement.

Confrontational communication involves a wide range of common words and phrases that include language that implies the speaker is better than another, language that demeans, language that expresses lack of interest, and ways of offering unwelcome and unsolicited advice, unrealistic reassurances, etc.

What You Can Do About Negativity – Yours and/or Someone Else’s

  1. Use Positive Self-Talk. Negativity is helped or hindered by self-talk. Make your self-talk positive. Tell yourself why your life is good and acknowledge the things that bring you joy or satisfaction. Avoid condemning yourself for errors or mistakes or what you consider bad decisions. And if you do say things like, “That was the dumbest thing I ever did” or “What an idiot I am,” practice ending on a positive note by saying something like, “Okay, what can I do next time to improve?” or “What did I learn from that?”
  2. Begin Anew. The past is the past. Don’t dwell on it. Stay in the present and look to the future. Expect the best things to happen, and they will.
  3. Concentrate on your Positive Emotions. Focus on the positive aspects of your life. Allow the temporary negative emotion, and then leave it behind.
  4. Use Visualization and Affirmations. See, hear, and feel yourself being positive. Use an affirmation similar to: “I am a positive and optimistic person.”
  5. Blend, Backtrack, Clarify, and Redirect. Blend by mirroring the voice and body language of the negative or difficult person. Then backtrack by using some of the person’s own words, and clarify the meaning, intent, and criteria. Finally, summarize what you’ve heard, and confirm it to be sure you got it right.

However, not all negativity is bad. Certain situations, for example, call for a certain amount of skepticism or defensive pessimism. You need to take things with a grain of salt and be smart about your decisions.

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