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Develop & Choose
Positive Beliefs

Repeated negative thoughts about ourselves and others undermine our hope, joy and confidence.

They can cause us to see and react in ways that often harm our relationships and make it harder to take care of ourselves.

You have the power to change your beliefs.

Letting go of negative beliefs can open up new possibilities for health and happiness. The reality is that just wishing that a belief will change doesn’t work. You need a strategy.

To change beliefs, you first need to be aware of them.

Start by paying attention to your own thinking. Do you have some thoughts and beliefs that come up over and over, or always at a certain time or after a certain kind of experience?

Do these thoughts make you feel better or worse? Do they help you to move forward with your goals in life, or do they hold you back?

You might sometimes be telling yourself:
I’m lazy.
I’m weak.
I’m stupid.
I hate my body.
I’m never good enough.
No one could ever love me.
The world is a terrible place, and there is no hope.

You can change these beliefs by taking small steps over time.

One effective strategy is to practice thoughts that ‘bridge” or “ladder up” to the next level of thinking. The new thought might not be positive yet – but if it’s less negative and less limiting, it’s an improvement, and you can build on it!

Here’s an example.

Starting with the words, “I’m weak” – you can ladder up to, “I could be stronger.”
After sticking with the new idea for enough time to believe it, the next step can be, “I have the power to be stronger.” Then, over time, “I have power” – and then, “I’m powerful.”

Our thoughts are powerful – and we have the power to change them.

We can learn how to create beliefs that empower us instead of disempower us.

You deserve to feel safe. Including with your thoughts.

Reaching out for help is a proven way to take charge of your wellbeing. If negative, hurtful thoughts about yourself are making it hard to sleep, eat, play, or find joy, get help from someone you trust.

The “laddering up” technique is from the article, Taking Charge of Your Beliefs About YOU by Kidpower Board President April Yee. Another resource for changing harmful beliefs is How to Stop Negative Self-Talk by Physician and Kidpower Board Member Dr. Abby Bleistein.

For more, visit our Mental Health resources page.

Browse the strategies below for more ways to take charge of your mental health…

Focus on what you CAN do

Constantly thinking and worrying about big problems outside your control can make you stressed, anxious, and distracted – without making anything better.

Focus instead on small, positive steps that you have the power to take.

Even one small, positive action can help replace isolation and despair with connection and hope.


Make self-care a high priority

Most of us know that getting the rest, exercise, connection, nourishment, and care we need will make us calmer, happier, and more prepared to do our work and help others.

The problem is that making enough time for self-care can feel impossible with work, school, and family responsibilities.

It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that we can get by with far less self-care than we actually need.

Without investing in ourselves, we are harming ourselves.

This is why it’s essential to make nurturing ourselves a top priority in our daily lives.


Protect your feelings

Have you ever felt miserable because of something cruel that someone said or did to you? Has this experience made you miserable over and over again every time you remember it?

You have the power to protect your feelings so that you can stay safe emotionally.

Here’s how.


Create safe and strong relationships

Developing safe and strong relationships helps us to reduce isolation, protect our mental health, and add joy and purpose to our lives.

Even one strong connection with a caring person can help to replace despair with hope.

Times of transition often lead to the loss of ongoing close relationships. Even if you don’t have someone you can talk with on a personal level right now, brief, positive exchanges with strangers and acquaintances can brighten our whole day. A smile, a wave, or a short chat about the weather can help us to feel more connected and less alone.

Here are some ways to meet new people and improve your relationships.


Set & respect boundaries

Do you ever feel misunderstood, taken for granted, or disrespected?

By speaking up clearly, respectfully, and powerfully, for what you DO and DO NOT want, you can reduce stress, improve communication, and prevent and solve problems.

Setting boundaries can help you to protect your time, your feelings, your body, your safety, and your mental and physical wellbeing.


Support others

Have you ever seen a friend or family member struggling emotionally? Maybe they were depressed or anxious or very sad because of a loss?

Many of us really want to help, and we aren’t always sure how. We might feel that whatever we do just isn’t enough, or we’re worried about doing the wrong thing and making someone feel worse.

The simple things can make a big difference.

Helping someone in need can improve your mood, your sense of wellbeing, and your sense of connection.

Here are some ideas of how to help others while still taking care of yourself.


Recognize and ask for what you want

One of the most important keys to good mental health is being able to do things that give you joy, satisfaction, and success in your life.

In order to do this, you first have to determine your own values, goals, and priorities.

Next, you have to look at what your options are and figure out some specific next steps for taking action.

And then, you need to be prepared to advocate for yourself persistently, respectfully and powerfully.

Here are some ways to recognize and ask for what you want.


Get help

Do you hate asking for help? Do you want to solve problems yourself instead of leaning on other people? Have you had bad experiences where the help you got made things worse?

Unfortunately, many cultures view asking for help as a weakness or as being selfish.

Some families see getting professional help such as counseling or therapy as being a personal failure, and associate mental healthcare with being ‘crazy.’

Getting help when you need it takes courage and strength.

Here are some ideas for how to overcome obstacles to getting the right kind of help for YOU.


Protect your personal safety

Too much misery, suffering, and trauma are caused by abuse, bullying, and assault.

The good news is that you have the power to protect yourself most of the time.

Here are some ways that you can develop the confidence and skill to take charge of your personal safety at home, at work, online, and in public.