From time to time, everyone faces negative thoughts and self-doubt. No one is confident and optimistic 100 percent of the time, and that’s OK. What’s not OK is letting yourself dwell on those negative conclusions, and allowing them to put a damper on your personal and professional life.

If you find yourself falling into negative thought patterns, take a step back and reframe your thinking. Below, Young Entrepreneur Council members share some ways you can improve your outlook on the situation.

1. Focus on the Idea, Not the Message Delivery

Many people are terrible communicators and some of the worst communicators have the best ideas. Try to break the pattern of miscommunication by being understanding. Ask engaging questions to get to the bottom of the idea or truth. You can only receive all of the information if you are unbiased and don’t jump to conclusions until you have all the facts. – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

2. Make Room for New Experiences

I struggled with this for a long time and I still do at times. When I see things adding up fast, I tend to come up with negative conclusions but my awareness brings me back to reality. I realized that if we create space for new experiences and opportunities it will fill this negative space and what we may just be making up. It is easier to think on the bright side anyway. – Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

3. Seek Potential Positive Outcomes

Any situation can have multiple outcomes, some of them negative or positive in terms of how it impacts you. Look for positive outcomes and see how you can steer the outcome towards that direction. – Ajay Paghdal, OutreachMama

4. Examine Your Options and Past Results

Negativity is something many people have to deal with personally and in the workplace. One of the best ways to counter such emotions and thoughts is to start processing your alternatives and what’s come as a result of such negativity in the past. More often then not, negativity will get you and your team nowhere. Once you realize this, it should become a smaller component of your life. – Zac Johnson, Blogger

5. Recall a Time When You Overcame Something Worse

I believe thinking positively or negatively is all about maintaining perspective. In the moments when you are jumping to a conclusion, start asking yourself if you have overcome worse or have been through a worse situation. For me, I use this tactic to maintain composure and objectivity. Since I’ve already gone through something worse overcoming the recent issue becomes simpler. – Krish Chopra, Nurse Practitioner Clinical Rotations

6. Look at Your Self Perceptions

There is something very powerful about the use of “I am.” If you are referring to yourself in the negative, catch yourself and stop it. Saying, “I feel stupid” is different from “I am stupid,” and worlds away from “I’m a smart person and intend on not making the same mistake again.” Catch how you are perceiving yourself and change it to the positive until it becomes a habit. – Brian Greenberg, True Blue Life Insurance, Inc

7. Take a Deep Breath

Whenever we begin to think negatively, it’s because the current moment is getting the best of us. The best way to combat these thoughts is to take a step back, relax your muscles, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Take another breath. Repeat. Before too long, you’ll realize you just meditated your way to contentment in that moment. – Logan Lenz, PartsMarket

8. Look for the Blessing in Disguise

What might seem negative on the outside might be a blessing in reality. If, for example, you have a lot of returns on an item, don’t look at it as a product failure. It’s an opportunity to over-deliver on customer service and the handling of the adversity to wow your customers. – Marc Lobliner, 

9. Stay Focused on Solutions

The single most important trick I use to keep myself from sub-coming to negative conclusions is to stay solution oriented. Instead of focusing on the problems, I focus on the solutions to the problems. If I only see the problem at hand, it’s almost impossible not to jump to negative conclusions. By focusing on the solution, I immediately have a more positive outlook in any scenario I encounter. – Mason Thomas, Mason Enterprise USA Corp

10. Start Writing

Writing about and reflecting on my experiences helps to keep things in perspective. I sometimes will reflect on my past feelings and struggles, and then remind myself how I got through the challenges at that time and how things worked out. This also works to keep me focused on the things and people around me that I can make a difference with, and not on stuff I don’t need and people I don’t really know. – Lonnie McQuirter, 36 Lyn Refuel Station

11. Practice Empathy

Empathy and trying to understand the motivations and actions of another person are integral to your professional and personal success. It is a lifelong practice to think positively and not allow negative assumptions or conclusions cloud your thinking. Trying to understand the why behind the what helps immensely. Yoga and prayer are my go-to’s when it is easier said than done. – Jennifer Mellon, Trustify

12. Examine All Sides of a Situation

I tend to see the glass half full and find a silver lining in just about every situation. Before I get upset with someone on my team, I make sure to get all sides of a situation before jumping to a conclusion. Rather than email something such as “why did you do that?” I now say, “Help me to understand the situation.” – Jennifer Barnes, Pro Back Office, LLC

13. Ask What Will Happen If You Don’t Take Action

Negative thinking can stop you from moving forward and making progress in any area of your life. One trick I use sometimes is to turn it around and ask yourself what might happen if you don’t try something. If you tend to be negative, this will warn you about the unwanted consequences of not taking action, such as not growing your business or having a positive experience. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

14. Remember That Self-Doubt and Failure Are Normal

At one time or another, all great achievers doubted themselves, and in fact, many failed several times before achieving success. Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Thomas Edison are just a few examples. When I tend to jump to negative conclusions, I remind myself the doubt is normal, but so is the necessity to move forward. – Dalia MacPhee, DALIA MACPHEE

15. Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture

As an entrepreneur, nine out of 10 things you do are going to be complete failures. Wallowing in that failure isn’t the most effective way to move forward, moving to the next item on the list is. Life is scary, but sitting around thinking about all the bad that could happen is just a waste of time you could be using to make the good happen. – Ali Mahvan, Sharebert 


  • Scott Gerber

    Founder and CEO

    Young Entrepreneur Council

    Scott Gerber is the founder of YEC, an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. Learn more at