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Positive thinking for behaviour change

Updated: Aug 29, 2020

Changing unhelpful thinking patterns

When we feel positive we feel empowered and make better choices. We’re more motivated to eat well, sleep well and feel motivated to exercise. When we feel negative the opposite is true.

Unhelpful thoughts can be a barrier to behaviour change

It is important to help clients to identify negative thinking patterns and positively reframe how they think and talk about themselves and their health. This can be by acknowledging strengths, inviting an exploration of what’s possible, and by building awareness of what is already working. This generates generating positive energy and emotion that can increase success.

Dealing with habitual negative thinking

Automatic negative thoughts arise in response to everyday situations and influence how we feel, which then drives our actions. 

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) helps individuals understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviours. It is used to help a client evaluate how thoughts and beliefs are holding them back from making changes and how to change thinking patterns to support change

CBT helps clients to:

  1. Identify these negative thought patterns 

  2. Evaluate and correct inaccurate thoughts

  3. Reframe the thoughts

  4. Promote new thoughts that evoke a positive response and behaviour

Used in coaching, CBT helps clients learn how to identify these thought patterns, challenge and reframe them and then promote new thoughts and behaviours.

Eg. The thought ‘I’ll never lose weight’ leads to a feeling of hopelessness, which gets in the way of health behaviours such as exercising and healthy eating or leads to negative health behaviours like comfort eating or excess alcohol consumption.


Challenging this belief and reframing it as ‘I can lose weight if I take the actions that I know work, based on my previous successes’ will more likely lead to an increased motivation to perform healthy behaviours.


The first step in challenging our client’s negative thoughts and thought patterns is to help them notice thoughts that are making them feel bad and are limiting them from achieving their health goals.

We can then support our clients to practice reframing these thoughts to more realistic ones that makes them feel good and motivated to create health changes.

When we help a client to focus on what they can do and what they have done well, it gives them the momentum to stay on track.


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