Neural Pathways

Hard times can be tough.

In these down moments there are opportunities to grow, but we’ll need all the support from ourselves we can get.

Negative thinking patterns can tie us down and diminish our needed self support.

Here are some thoughts on how to overcome negative thinking during tough times:


There are two types of mindsets: Set and Growth

In a set mindset, there is a belief that the way things are is the way it’s always going to be, that the way we are is the way we’re always going to be.

This is the type of thinking that can paralyze someone’s growth because they’re not going to attempt to make changes.

With a growth mindset, we’ll understand that change is inevitable.

It’s okay to feel down as we are going through trials because we know circumstances and emotions pass.

This mindset helps us embrace change and grow.

Taking Charge

Not letting negative thinking (our inner commentary of criticism and doubt) get to us has to do with our focus.

It’s not about control, it’s about focus.

It means talking back to that negative voice if we have to.

Rather than being a victim of our thoughts, we can be an observer.

If we recognize where our thoughts are leading us, our newfound awareness can allow us to take the steps needed to better the situation.

It’s true that we don’t have much control of emotions that arise in the moment, as well as circumstances that ensue, but we do have control of our thoughts. We can make good use of this realm of influence.

Negativity and Fear

If we were to take a step back from our thoughts and monitor our thinking, some of us would be surprised of how negative it is.

The dialogue of self criticism in our heads can be stuff we would never say aloud to about anybody else. So why say these things about ourselves?

This negative inner dialogue also gets us in a state of fear.

When this happens, our imagination is working against us in construing future scenarios in which we are fearful, failing, and worried.

A great way of changing the negative self-talk is to visualize a future that is positive.

Whether the imagining is one hour from now or one year from now, the power of hope is something that will reprogram our negative thinking.


Neuroplasticity is a word used to describe the process in which our brain’s neural synapses and pathways are altered.

When these neural bridges are formed or altered, our habits (even our thinking habits) are formed and altered as well.

Because of the power of habit, we can sometimes feel powerless when trying to change ourselves to break out of negative ones.

If we remember neuroplasticity though, it changes things.

When we feel that resistance when trying to make a positive change, it’s good.

It means that neuroplasticity is telling us that we’re going out of the realm of habit into a place of discomfort where new pathways are being formed.

We can trust that the feeling of resistance to change is actually showing us the way we’ve got to go.

Doing What is Necessary

After all this talk about changing thinking, what will really be of most help to us in overcoming negative thinking is if we prove that we deserve positivity in our lives by taking action in attainment of our ideal.

There needs to be a game plan to get us working our system.

Without a plan, we can fall into unproductive activities that make us feel progress is being made, but our stuff won’t be getting done.


The take away here is that we can change.

We’re always changing, so let’s make the change a good change.

If we’re not making progress, we may think that we’re good for the time being, but the truth is that life is an escalator, and if we’re not taking effort to walk up, it’ll bring us down. That is entropy.

Same with the mind .. If we’re not making an effort to have a positive mental attitude, the default is the negative patterns that external forces can instill in us.

Let’s fight the good fight.

32 thoughts on “Neural Pathways”

  1. Wow, this is exactly what I needed to read on my break at work today. I have had a week, when the negative just kept getting the better of me and I am a really positive person usually. Thank you for the science discussion behind it. I could not have asked for a better website to stumble upon on my break in the day!


  2. Greetings John!

    I’ve been getting into this new way of thinking material for about a year now and to my surprise, it really does work to get rid of negative thoughts and replace them with newer, smarter and more positive ways of thinking.

    It’s amazing to learn that just thinking good thoughts has a real-life effect on the brain.

    I’ve read stuff from Tony Robbins and other such authors about this and I would love to read more. Is there any book that you can recommend for me?

    • Yeah tony robbins is has some awesome advice. One book that I would recommend is “do the work” by Steven Pressfield. He has some other great books too, but this book was very direct and to the points, and he touches on a lot of good stuff concerning motivation.

  3. This has helped so much as I am a very pessimistic person and I am always doubting myself.

    My whole life I have doubted myself in a lot of different things and I have been looking for ways to improve that I have got to say this has helped.

    Mindset is one of the most important things that I need to work on and that’s one of my main goals this year.

    Do you have any goals to improve positive thinking?

    • yeah I try to read and watch as much positive media I can. I try to keep away from anything super time wasting, which is very difficult

  4. Fantastic article. For some reason today i woke up and felt fairly negative and i didn’t understand why.
    I am really glad I have read your website, its quite inspiring and really uplifted my spirits.

    Please keep making more articles like this!

  5. I agree that you have to make an effort to have a positive thinking pattern. After all, life is all about making decisions after decisions.

  6. This site does really help.

    To offer a little bit of what I’ve learned myself, negative thinking leads to depression and anxiety – not what anybody wants.

    I’ve been to both of those places, and I’m glad to say that I made it out! Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (which can be read, ala bibliotherapy (the book When Panic Attacks, or Feeling Good), or self-administered online with a program like the website Joyable) was the thing that helped me most.

    Best of luck everyone!

  7. Great post and so true. Very appropriate for me. This is one of those weeks where I just want to run away and live in an RV in the woods! I know that is not a good plan for right now, however tempting. I have the power to make things more positive!

  8. This is a great website on personal growth. I have a few people in mind who should take a few moments and go through your website. Very good information that made me want to stop and think. Everyone needs to do that…take a deep breath and think positively. I’m just curious if you know people that have had success with changing such thought processes. It would be encouraging to know!


    • Thanks for the comment Leahrae!

      If you think about many of the great motivational speakers of our day, they like to tell their stories about how they were stuck, either in a situation or negative mindset, and how they overcame. One of my personal favorites Eric Thomas, and he tells of how we was homeless at one point, living on the street, and how it took him 12 years to get his 4 year undergraduate degree, and now he is inspiring millions through youtube and seminars, along with working one on one with people.

  9. Yes! I needed these kind of motivation badly at times like this! Negative thinking not only affected own’s mood, attitude but health (mentally and physically) and also the people around us. But sometimes the continuing practice of visualizing something positive and have a cheerful outlook even though in the reality it’s bad will make others think that I’m in my own sweet dream and not being realistic though..
    That’s the conflict I’m facing..

    • Yeah there’s a fine line between putting in work versus taking part in motivational media, reading books, learning, visualizing a positive future . These latter things will get you in a good mindset for taking action, but really nothing can substitute taking action

  10. What a great topic to pursue in helping others and educating others during the Change Process…:)
    I could not agree more that our negative thinking most of the time comes from society expectations on how things should be compared to what is actually good for us… Accepting our feelings and turning off the resistance is probably the start process of a Change. I do agree a plan is neccesary as it is very easy to slip back in negative thinking. What helped you? Is there anything in particular that you use?

    • For me I try to fill my mind with positive media and books, motivational youtube videos, and anything else that is going to keep me in a positive state – but most importantly it’s in keeping busy with personal goals and whatnot

  11. Yes a positive mind always brings a positive outcome. I believe this is something everyone should read as it is so easy to become or get stuck in a negative mindset and so hard to get into a positive one. I often have to talk myself out of a negative mind and into a positive one as life isn’t always easy. Sometimes just simply smiling helps a lot. Great article a def. must read!

  12. This really goes with what I have learn in DBT. Negative thinking is one of several thought distortions that I am guilty of. I just want to give some hope to your other readers that there is hope! Switching from negative thinking to positive thinking is not easy to achieve, but it can most definitely be achieved and is so freeing. I honestly feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders just by simply adjust my thoughts.

  13. Hi Jon,

    I enjoyed your site a lot. At first, because I have done a lot of research on positive mindset and pain relief, I thought that you should’ve done more on the connection between positive thinking and pain management.

    After looking deeper into your web site, I think you did the right thing by not spreading yourself too thin and focusing on issues that both the pain sufferer and pain-free can understand.

    I also have to give you high marks for the use of the sidebar. In fact, I think it’s the best thing that I have seen yet. The link, for example, that takes you to the individual “Music Greats” is very effective. I went to the Elvis link and it looks like the “king” has his own mini blog–very cool.

    Overall, a fun site that leaves you with good feelings.

  14. I think negativity usually arises as a result of a series of minor failures or events beyond our control. When one is faced with subsequent events that render our capabilities to overcome them, useless, we tend to wander into that negative realm of thought. I believe the way to overcome that is to make sure one is always in the company of highly successful people who maintains that positive outlook on life no matter what is thrown at them. I find that this tends to rub off on you and helps you to think openly with the broader picture in mind.

  15. Negative thinking is so dangerous in many ways and it’s an easy trap to fall into over and over again. First step to eradicating it is being aware of our thoughts to begin with. It’s like admitting to being an alcoholic or something similar, as negativity can be an addiction itself.

    You put forth many positive points in your article and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing this with the world. The world needs more of this.

  16. Hi John,
    I have suffered from negative thinking patterns at various times in my life, although I consider myself a generally upbeat person. You offer some great tips on how to change those thought patterns that, at best, keep us in a negative thinking mindset or, at worse, make the situation seem even worse than it is. The only method you describe which still isn’t completely clear to me is neuroplasticity. Could you please explain that a little more?


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