What do you do when you face a challenge in life? Do you sit back and overthink every aspect of the situation or do you think of ways to manage the situation?

How you respond to stress and obstacles in your life plays an essential role in your physical, emotional and mental well-being.

As quoted by a famous psychologist, Mihaly Csíkszentmihály,

“It is how people respond to stress that determines whether they will profit from misfortune or be miserable.”

And I could not agree more with him!

Every problem can be seen from two perspectives – positive and negative. A positive perspective or attitude helps to think of the challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow. On the other hand, a negative one stresses you out further, making it tougher to manage the situation.


Negative Attitude/ Positive Attitude

It’s up to you, which one you want to go ahead with…

Recognizing a Negative Attitude

Our attitude is formed over the years and has become our ‘usual way’ of seeing life. This ‘habit,’ may sometimes make it difficult for us to identify our negative thought patterns. And that’s the reason why people struggle to change their attitude. In fact, it is so misleading at times, that it keeps us believing that the fault lies with the outer world and our life circumstances. When the focus should actually be on our inner world and the thoughts and emotions that are a part of it. However, there’s no need to fear. There’s nothing that a little attention and self-awareness cannot catch hold off!

So, here are some tell-tale signs that you may be housing a ‘not-so-useful’ attitude when it comes to solving problems:

  • Extreme anxiety and excessive worrying about the future (While a fear of the unknown is a quality of the human mind, it can debilitate you when in excess and prevent you from taking action)
  • Overthinking and imagining that the worst possible scenario. (Yes, some of us possess the skill of magnification and catastrophizing even the most normal situations!)
  • Complaining that your life is not going well. And not taking any concrete steps to change the current circumstances to make it better
  • Thinking that things around you will never get better
  • Feeling others are responsible for your situation (And even blaming them!)
  • Having low self-esteem issues that can limit your ability to make the needed change in your life

Impact of a Negative Attitude

Having a negative attitude all the time can really affect your emotional, physical and mental well-being. Physically you may feel tired all the time and have low energy levels. You may also have digestion and heart issues.

Mentally you may feel clouded; with difficulty in planning, decision making and creativity.

On an emotional level, excessive negative thoughts can cause your stress levels to rise. This can lead to psychological ailments like depression, anxiety, neuropsychiatric disorders, etc.

It can also spill over and affect your interpersonal relations; leading to increased conflict and communication challenges with colleagues, family, friends, etc.

You therefore need to be vigilant if you have a tendency to ruminate over negative thoughts for a prolonged period of time. It can lead to a string of harmful consequences, which we could really do well without!

Get ready for Change

While it is difficult to change thought patterns that have strengthened over time, it is not impossible. Slowly and steadily, and with continuous effort, we can win over the negative attitude.

So, the next time you are facing any problem, follow the below steps:

  1. Take a pause.

Pausing gives us a chance to observe the kind of thoughts that are coming into our mind when faced with a problem. It gives us the opportunity to break the flow of negative subconscious thoughts that we are often unaware of, yet which have a strong hold on us and control our attitude. It takes a bit of practice as we have to literally break out of a bad habit, but trust me, it will completely change the way you manage challenging situations.

Pausing also gives time for our emotions to settle down. This allows us to think logically again, something that may get difficult when faced with a problem!

  1. Check your focus. Am I focusing on what I can control and how I can influence the situation positively?

Most of us have a tendency to focus on things that aren’t under our control. This typically makes us feel helpless and increases our anxiety. At such moments, it’s important to switch our gears. Rather than focusing on the problem and how bad it is, switch to what action/s you can take in the current situation. It will give you hope and energy to take steps in the required direction.

  1. Find the positive in the negative

Just as a coin has two sides, every problem has a positive and negative side. It’s up to us which side we want to look at! While looking at the negative side can give us a sense of helplessness and even doom, looking at the positive side can greatly improve our ability to focus on finding the solution and taking the required action.

Again, while this is easy to share, it can be difficult to implement due to the constant negative triggers around us and our subsequent habit of thinking negatively. But there’s nothing that a little practice can’t make you do!

  1. Break down the problem into smaller, more manageable pieces

When you look at a problem as a whole, it might seem overwhelming. However, if you break it down into smaller pieces, and start completing them one by one, you’ll realize it wasn’t that tough! It’s actually quite similar to how we advise our participants to avoid multi-tasking and focus on one task at a time in our time management training sessions. It helps the mind focus, avoids overwhelm and procrastination, while energizing you to complete the whole, bit by bit.

5. Remembering past similar challenges

As rightly said by many great minds, past mistakes and lessons learnt in life always act as a beacon to show us the way. So, go back in time and think of similar issues you faced in the past. Recollect how you went about managing them and arriving at the solution. And implement your learning on the current problem. Why re-invent the wheel when you have already made the effort before!

Besides, it’s a great way to relieve the mind from anxiety by showing it that the problem is not new. And just as you were able to find a solution to it in the past, so will you now.

  1. Delve deeper into the solution to create a plan of action

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s my desired outcome?

Clarify and articulate the specific goal or result you would want to achieve by solving your particular problem.

  • What resources do I have available?

Identify the tools, materials, time, manpower, etc. available to help you to attain your outcome. Also check what more you require.

  • What steps can I take to move forward?

Plan and strategize the practical actions that you can undertake to resolve your issue. Also think of what can derail your plan and how you will manage it.

  • Have I looked at the problem from every angle?

Our judgements, biases and perceptions can prevent us from looking at a problem in its entirety. However, it’s important to do this to find the best solution to it.

  1. Asking for help

While being able to implement these techniques on our own is our end goal, it may take time. To ensure you are still able to get to the solution of the problem at the earliest, you can seek help. You can ask others to help you see the positive in the situation, look at the problem from different angles, focus on actions that are in your control, etc. In short, all the above-mentioned techniques. And how is it that they will be able to help? Because they are a third party and not a part of the problem. They are not internally disturbed by it the way you are. This makes it easier for them to look at it neutrally and arrive at a logical solution. It’s therefore important to identify and not hesitate in approaching people who can extend a helping hand to guide and support you. 


Adopting these practices can help you to shift your mindset from being problem-focused to solution-focused and from a negative attitude to a more positive one. But remember, this change in attitude is a gradual process and won’t happen overnight. You have to consciously make small efforts every day to bring about a positive change. For starters, you can pick up one or two techniques listed above to work on. Don’t try to implement them all. We don’t want you getting overwhelmed and stopping the practice altogether!

Transitioning from negative attitude to positive attitude



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