Turning a “No” Into a “Yes!”



Often a person making their way through recovery from mental illness or addiction relies on negative thinking. When this pattern becomes ingrained, it can be a go-to response they use without even thinking about it. Being willing to say “yes” to new ways to manage their recovery is vital for success. The sooner a client embraces this philosophy, the more quickly they make progress.

A negative attitude can be particularly present in adolescents and young adults. Teens and young adults might lean towards being “overly dramatic.” While this is harmless as just a regular teenage attitude, negative thinking might be problematic when it affects their recovery.

Recognizing a Negative Pattern

A client may not realize how negative their attitude has become. Help them establish their baseline response to understand how often negativity arises in their thinking. You might suggest you go through a list of options for new tasks or activities they can try. Ask your client to give an automatic response to whether or not they want to try each suggestion. 

They can add a brief reason why they are not interested in each item. Justifications for saying “no” may include: 


  • “It sounds too difficult.”
  • “It’s a waste of time.”
  • “I already tried it, and it doesn’t work.”
  • “I’ll fail at doing that.”
  • “I heard that doesn’t help anyone.”
  • “I don’t have the energy to try that.”


Helping a Client Change Negatives Into Positives

Once the client has countered several suggestions with negative reactions, open a discussion with them about how this go-to response hinders their progress. Go through the list again and challenge them to redirect their negative assumptions to positive ones. New answers may include:


  • “It may not be initially easy, but I will learn how to do it.”
  • “Anything worthwhile takes time.”
  • “Sometimes it takes a second or third attempt to achieve something.”
  • “I can accomplish many things when I make up my mind to do it.”
  • “My outcome may be different from that of others.”
  • “I will push through a desire to quit and see what I can accomplish.”


Make a Habit of Documenting Positive Accomplishments

It can be easy to forget specific accomplishments made during recovery. Days turn into weeks and weeks into months. When a client looks back on the effort they put into recovery; they may not remember how adopting a positive attitude proved helpful. Neglecting to recognize a change from a negative attitude to a positive one can make it easy to forget the impact of positivity on their sobriety and mental health challenges.

Ask your clients to keep a positivity diary. When they replace a negative attitude or assumption with a positive one, they can record the details. Sometimes just seeing something written down helps reinforce it. As positivity becomes a habit they regularly choose, they can reflect on this in their writing. It serves as a reminder that they are capable of reaching for positive responses regularly.

Reading over their history from time to time can help keep positivity front and center in their minds. Significant benefits can come from remembering how fear and uncertainty once ruled their decision-making. Reviewing their change in thinking helps shore up how well it works. This mindset will prove beneficial beyond their time in treatment.

Adopting Sales Tactics to Change a “No” Into a “Yes!”

While it might seem odd at first, tips from people who are in sales for a career can help. They rely on their abilities to change a potential customer’s “no” into a “yes.” Ask your client to treat their negative responses as if they are coming from a customer. Ask them to counter them with the following tactics: 

  • Find out why “no” is the first response. Provide reasons why that may be faulty thinking.
  • Ask if self-doubt is coming into play. Provide a reminder that they can accomplish great things even when they initially doubt themselves.
  • Determine their strengths and how to use those to their advantage in completing a task.
  • Ask if someone else’s voice is interfering. Are they afraid someone else has a lack of faith in them or will ridicule their choice?
  • Have a counterpoint for each objection. Simply throwing up their hands and giving up gets them nowhere!
  • Don’t allow anger or impatience to make decisions—diffuse negative emotions by allowing time to reframe them.
  • If ultimately the prospect considered doesn’t feel right, empower them to move on. Not every question will have a “yes” response. 

Often adolescent and young adult clients have a habit of thinking negatively. Their go-to response to any challenge to change their thinking or behavior may be met with a “no.” Teaching them to identify when negativity impacts their recovery is imperative. When they learn to flip a “no” to a “yes,” they open up new options for making progress. If you have a client who needs treatment for their addiction to drugs or alcohol, we can help. Sustain Recovery provides skilled professionals who understand how to help young people choose recovery. We also treat co-occurring diagnoses of addiction with mental health concerns. Our residential, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are founded on evidence-based clinical treatment modalities and best practice principles. We provide 12-Step recovery, group and individual therapy, and continued education for our clients. Call us today to see how we can help your clients say “yes” to recovery and start over! (949) 407-9052.