Challenge anxious thoughts with positive thinking

Kidney Care UK Lead Counsellor Jackie Pilcher shares her advice about turning negative thinking into positive thinking.

Your self-talk, and therefore your mind, can affect your attitude toward yourself and even affect your health and wellbeing.

Positive thinking skills can be learnt. This does not mean you can stop unpleasant things happening, but you can approach them in a more positive way, which helps you to better manage your life.

Becoming aware of your own thought patterns can enable beneficial changes in your approach to life. It is important to recognise the negative statements your mind engages in so that you can challenge these thoughts and comments with the positive facts in your life.

A lot of these inner comments can slip by unnoticed and have very negative and limiting effects on us. If left unchallenged these inner comments can lead us to very low places and keep us there – we can feel there is no way out.

Re-occurring anxious thoughts create neural connections that make thinking anxious thoughts easier for us to accept as time goes on. This forms our routine thinking habits.

Most people are not consciously aware of what they are thinking about most of the time. Therefore, we can routinely have negative thoughts causing us high levels of anxiety. However, we are generally aware of the impact that our thoughts can have on us, for example, feeling sad, fearful, depressed, angry, lonely, frustrated, and disappointed.

The exciting thing is that we can do something about this, if we choose to. We can regain control over our mind.

We all have choices – sometimes these are not the choices we would hope for, but we need to recognise that there is always choice. Recognising this can help us to feel empowered and regain control and ownership of our reactions, even in the most difficult situations.

It can be challenging to try different approaches to the problems in our life. However, if we want different results, we need to try different approaches.

At various times throughout the day, catch yourself thinking. How are you feeling? What are you thinking about? Why are you thinking about that topic?

Our mind may be used to thinking in certain ways and our self-talk can simply become a habit that we have become unaware of, but with a consistent effort our habits can be changed.

Be aware that you have the power to change your thought processes (also referred to as neural plasticity) if you choose to. We can never be forced to think anything. We can be in control of our own thinking – adopting positive thinking can make our lives better.

Our minds aren't passive observers, simply perceiving reality as it is. Our minds actually change reality.
Alia Crum, PhD, Stanford Mind and Body Lab

List the negative comments that you notice yourself thinking.

We can often say things to ourselves that keep us stuck in one place, make us feel weak and fearful of even trying. We can allow our thoughts to persuade us not to try, because we become convinced that we are going to fail anyway.

To get you started here are some examples of negative thinking (mind commentary) to help you identify your own:

  • I’ve never done it before (so I won’t be any good at it – why bother?).
  • It’s too complicated (it will take too much effort for me to achieve so it’s not worth trying).
  • I’m too lazy/tired to get this done (let’s just leave it).
  • There is no way this will work (so I won’t even try).
  • No one communicates with me (they’re not bothering – so I won’t).
  • It’s too much of a major change (I am scared of trying – this is too big).

So now let us look again at these examples of negative self-talk and consider ways that we can change them into positive thinking.

Negative self-talk Positive thinking

I've never done it before . . .

This is a chance to learn something new.

It's too complicated . . .

I will try from a different direction.

I'm too lazy/tired to get this done . . .

I'll rethink my priorities to achieve this.

There is no way this will work . . .

I will find a way to make this work.

No one communicates with me . . .

I will find a way to communicate with others.

It's too much of a major change . . .

I am going to give it a go.

It's not worth it . . .

I am worth it.

Positive thinking image 2
List the negative comments that you notice yourself thinking.

Recognising your negative self-talk enables you to begin to challenge it.

A positive mindset requires commitment and continuous practice just like physical exercise. If you stop it, you become weak again. Intellect and body behave the same way.

For the majority of the time, your thoughts directly control how you are feeling at any given moment – regardless of whether you are consciously aware of it or not.

With that in mind, wouldn't it be great if you could better control what you were thinking so that you could change how you were feeling at any time?

You can control your thoughts!

  • Begin today by noting and challenging your negative thoughts. The more you work on this the easier it becomes, and you will begin experiencing positive changes in your life.
  • Take time to consider whether you have had a previous bad experience relating to your thoughts, as you begin registering them. Try to identify what the root cause was.
  • Remember that your mind creates the emotional state. This is because our default is to avoid pain, but just because something has happened in a certain way before does not mean that it will happen the same way this time. Consistently challenge the negativity you feel relating to your thoughts.
  • Talk about your concerns or fears with someone you trust and who really listens to you. It is always good to get a different perspective on things.

Find power in vulnerability

We hope this helps you to feel encouraged about making positive change and challenging negativity, but please remember you are human.

Be kind to yourself and accept that it is okay to ask for help, to take some downtime and to make time for YOU. Self-care is important – treat yourself as you would a very dear friend.

What support might be available to me?

You can find out more about emotional resilience on the Kidney Care UK website.

If you are living with kidney disease and need emotional support, Kidney Care UK offers free counselling for kidney patients and their families. For more information, call us on 01420 541424 (Monday to Friday between 9am - 5pm) or contact us through our website.

If you need financial support, our Grants team may be able to aware you a grant to help with domestic costs, household items, travel expenses and training/qualification expenses.

More ways to support your mental health

  • Mindfulness

    Focusing on life’s daily stresses can mean you miss how your body really feels. This can be especially true if you are living with a long-term condition such as chronic kidney disease (CKD).

  • Emotional resilience

    Long-term conditions like chronic kidney disease (CKD) can affect different areas of your life as well as your health. Emotional resilience is about coping with your problems and finding a way to continue to live well, even when under considerable stress.

  • Counselling and support service

    Living with a long-term illness such as chronic kidney disease can turn anyone's world upside down. You’re not alone. Our Counselling Service offers FREE help and emotional support to kidney patients and their families.