Blog post by Sydney Life and Confidence Coach Lisa Phillips 

The human brain is often comfortable focussing on negative things and negative experiences, regardless of whether they are in the past or present. Unfortunately, thinking negatively can become a rather bad habit and can easily drag you down if you let it. In the long term, negative thinking will lead to you spending more time upstream, fighting against the real flow of life. It can also lead to depression,  self hatred, low self confidence and low self esteem. In simple terms, thinking negatively, whether it is about other people or yourself, will not untimely lead to you feeling good or experiencing positive emotion. In fact, it will turn your life upstream, creating increased negative emotion which is hard work and exhausting!

In my work as a Confidence and Life Coach, I teach the importance of caring about how you feel and your own emotional well being. I liken this to being in a stream and flowing downstream. Downstream emotions will always feel good and it is your body’s way of telling you that you are on track to get everything you desire. Let’s face it, positive emotions such as happiness, fun, hopefulness and joy will always feel good to you.

Based upon our own personal preferences and beliefs, we all have unique negative thoughts flowing through our mind. However, there are some common distortions of thinking. This type of thinking was originally identified psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck, MD, back in the 1960s.

In my work with personal and business life coaching clients I often come across these common negative thoughts patterns:

  1. All-or-nothing thinking
    This is when you see the world in black and white only.  For example,you may label yourself as a failure or having low self confidence because you made one mistake or had a bad experience in the past. This mistake often causes you to fail to look at the successes you may have had!!
  2. Overgeneralization
    I must admit, this is rather a common thought pattern for many of us.When we choose an overgeneralization thought pattern, we often see small events or ‘knock backs’ as evidence of a broader issue. For example, you get overcharged for you shopping and decide that ‘everyone is trying to rip you off’.
  3. Filtering
    How often does something happen to you and you only focus on the negative?For example, you say something in error at work and then you allow it to ruin your entire day? Or maybe you get a promotion at work and then shortly after, you go into worrying whether you are up to the new job?
  4. Disqualifying the positive
    How do you react if someone gives you a compliment? If you find yourself rejecting kind words or explaining that the praise is not really warranted, you are choosing to disqualify the positive and your default mode is actually self-deprecation.
  5. Jumping to conclusions
    Do you assume the worst will happen?I often challenge my clients on their mind reading skills asking them ‘what evidence do you have of this?’ or ask them ‘can you really know what someone else is thinking?’. It is interesting that many of us would rather fear the worst that actually discover the facts! The truth is, that we are not mind readers and unless you have evidence, we simply have no idea what others are thinking.
  6. 6. “Should” statements
    How often do you tell yourself that you ‘should’ do something?I often ask my Life Coaching clients to give up the word should as really, it often leads to you feeling frustrated and resentful.
  7. 7.Personalization
    Do you take everything personally? Do you blame yourself for things that happen that are really out of your control? Personalisation is a common negative thought pattern and one that can lead you to feeling guilty and over responsible for other people’s behaviour.


In conclusion, negative thought patterns are common. However, the good news is that with a little focus, they can be easily transformed. We really do have a choice on what thoughts we choose to think about others and ourselves. It actually isn’t as difficult as society may lead you to believe. In fact, with a little momentum on your stream, you can find yourself in the flow of positive emotion each day.

To find out more about Sydney Life and Confidence Coach Lisa Phillips, please see