How To Change Your Negative Thoughts To Positive Thoughts [Belief Ladders]

Are you really negative and mean to yourself?

Want to learn how to change your negative thoughts to positive thoughts?

This video shares one of my favorite ways to flip that script and be less negative using an activity called Belief Ladders.

Watch this video to learn how to change your negative thoughts to positive thoughts so you can live your best life as a teenager.

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It’s no secret that teenagers can be wildly negative and moody. There is SO much pressure and so many changes happening all at once, it’s no wonder they have a more difficult time being positive.

But what if you could flip that script?

We all have negative thoughts, and for good reason.

If we never considered the negative, we probably wouldn’t survive as a species. And we definitely wouldn’t be able to appreciate or enjoy the positives, unless we had the negatives to compare with.

But what if you struggle with negative thinking?

We all know that thinking negatively about ourselves can put us in a crappy mood. But how do you break that cycle? How can you even start to think more positively about yourself? It is possible to stop hating on yourself. I’ve helped hundreds of teens with this and today I’m going to share with you how using an exercise called the Belief Ladder.

Our minds believe WHATEVER we tell it!

And based on what we tell it, it steers us in directions that confirm that belief. That’s called the confirmation bias. Basically, whatever we think, our mind likes to confirm that it’s true so it looks for evidence that provides proof of your thoughts.

This is how we can get stuck in negative thinking patterns. So if you find yourself thinking “I’m so stupid,” your mind is looking for proof that it’s true, because remember- it wants to believe you! And because noticing negative experiences have helped us survive as a species, we’re more likely to err on the side of negativity and find it easier to confirm negative thoughts.

So let’s jump into it and do a Belief Ladder together.

  1. Write down any negative thought you have about yourself that you’d like to change. For this example, I’m going to choose “I’m so stupid” but you can really choose anything that holds a negative charge for you.

  2. Notice where in your body you feel that emotional charge. Now this could be in different places for different people. I tend to feel negative emotions in my chest and throat area, but you may feel it in your belly, your hands, your feet, you head- wherever.

  3. Rate how intense that discomfort feels on a scale of 0-10 where 0 is not at all and 10 is the most extreme discomfort you could possibly feel. Write that down next to your negative thought.

  4. Write the more positive thought you’d rather believe about yourself instead, underneath that negative thought. Don’t worry if it feels true or not. It could be the exact positive, or a slightly more positive version of your negative thought. In my example, I could choose something like “I’m not stupid” or “I’m so smart.”

  5. Check in and rate how true this feels for you on a scale of 1-7 where 1 is Not true at all and 7 is it feels Absolutely true beyond a doubt! Write this next to that positive thought.

  6. List ALL the reasons that positive statement IS true. Some people will set a timer and just spend that time listing all the reasons. I find it easier to list a certain number of reasons, regardless of how long it takes, because it’s in the moments when you’re having to really reach and search for those reasons that the magic happens. If this is your first time, start with 10 reasons. If you want more of a challenge, go for 50 or even 100 reasons! [If you’re following along with this video, go ahead and pause it now so you can take your time before moving onto the next step.]

  7. Now go ahead and read all those reasons. You can do this silently or to yourself. When you’re done, go back to that negative thought. How uncomfortable does it feel now on that 0-10 scale? Write that number down.

  8. I bet you can guess where we’re going next with this. Rate how true that positive thought now feels on that 1-7 scale and write it down.

    Pretty cool how things can shift, right?

    If your numbers didn’t change, or they still seem pretty high or low, don’t worry.

    Just like any exercise, this stuff gets easier the more you do it.

    Give it a go another time, or try it with some different thoughts.


If you are concerned that you, or someone you know, may be considering killing themselves, please connect them with help.



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Mallory Grimste, LCSW - Teen Therapist

Mental Health Counseling for Anxious Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults | Woodbridge, CT