Learning to Focus on the Positive


One of the hallmarks of adolescent thinking is the tendency to overdramatize things. A joke someone told is the funniest thing they ever heard. A slasher film is the scariest thing they ever saw, or a new peer at school is the most gorgeous person that has ever lived. This way of viewing the world is common among this age group and something we all experienced in our own youth. Still, it can be damaging for a young person dealing with a mental health diagnosis or substance abuse to think in negative absolutes. This type of thinking can make people rigid and unteachable. Often, recovery seems to be practically impossible simply because it is difficult.          

Part of the challenge of treating adolescents is helping them identify their doom-and-gloom thinking habits. These patterns make progress more difficult and time-consuming than it needs to be. This way of viewing life also tends to block out the good things that occur, making them miss out on enjoying those moments and building on them. As a treatment provider for this group, you are called on to be a great resource to teach them how they view the world impacts their ability to change their thinking and achieve their goals. 

Challenging Automatic Negative Reactions

Taking a harmful habit and turning it into a positive one can be a challenge at any age. Still, it is particularly true for adolescents and young adults who may not have had a lot of life experience developing this valuable life skill. When a situation presents itself or a negative thought pops into their heads, it’s imperative to get in the habit of pausing before deciding their next move. A person can envision holding up a stop sign to indicate no actions or assumptions can occur until an assessment is made and the most positive course of action is determined. 

Help your client practice changing their negative thinking into something positive. Present scenarios to them and ask them what their automatic, negative response would be. Ask them what they could replace that with to plan for success instead of assuming that failure is the only option. For example, let’s say the student got a failing grade on a test, and their go-to reaction is that they must be stupid. Ask them to reject that assumption. Instead, encourage them to review the answers they got wrong, refocus their studies, and earn a better grade next time. This plan of action means they are not unintelligent. It gives them some power over the situation, and it creates a positive thinking space.

Surround Yourself With Positivity

People make choices every day that have to do with positivity or negativity, even when they aren’t always aware they are doing this. Ask your client to name the people with whom they spend the most time and then determine if they would describe them as more of a positive or negative personality type. Have them take stock of people in their lives that assume the worst about themselves and others, and give up easily on life’s challenges because they believe failure is inevitable. Help your client explore if adjusting the amount of time they spend with this type of person could help them embrace more positivity in their lives. 

Open a dialogue about how positivity can be found in even the smaller details of how one lives. While many adolescents benefit from working out challenging and painful emotions via music, television, and movies, much can be gained by adding art that celebrates life and positivity. In addition, what artwork and photographs are on the walls in their home can help set and sustain a mood. Even the color of clothing they wear can be a subtle reminder of how much hope a person fosters in their lives. Attention to detail is vital when making positive life changes. Make sure all avenues of ways to incorporate positivity are explored.

Additional Ways to Add Positivity to Your Life

Keeping a gratitude journal can help retrain a client’s vision of their daily lives and remind them that they are making progress, even if in baby steps. Affirmations offer similar results and can be found via an online search, books that feature them, or by coming up with a personalized selection. Focusing on one positive affirmation per day can give a person a mantra of sorts to think about and pull focus off their negative thoughts. 

Most people want to develop the power of positive thinking, but they aren’t always sure how to go about it. When your mindset tends towards positivity, and it becomes a habit to reject automatic negative reactions, it’s easier to make progress related to many things in life. At Sustain Recovery, we recognize how the ability to live a more positive life affects your ability to manage mental health diagnoses, as well as addiction. We offer long-term treatment programs for adolescents and young adults that address rewiring the mind to want and expect positive outcomes. Our caring staff is experienced in working with younger clients to learn self-respect and develop an enthusiasm for the new person they will become when they return home. Call us now to find out we can set your loved one on a new life path that is positive in both thoughts and actions. Let us help your family today! (949) 407-9052