Circle Activity for Negative Thoughts | Counseling | Therapy

Circle Activity for Negative Thoughts

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Circle Activity for Negative Thoughts

Do you often find yourself trapped inside your own negative thoughts? Are these thoughts often negative thoughts towards you? Often times, a person may be trapped inside negative thoughts, whether putting themselves down due to past experience, hearing voices of those who have hurt them in their conscious, or putting themselves down to build someone else up. When we fall into these patterns, it is hard to see how negative thought have infiltrated into your mind. The Circle Activity for negative thoughts will help you learn how to identify these negative thoughts and how to reframe them into positive thinking.


First, draw a big circle on a sheet of paper. Next, draw a horizontal line separating the top and bottom of the circle. On the top of the circle, write down all of the positive words or phrases that come to mind when you are thinking of yourself or what other people have described you as, such as determined, hilarious, considerate, and/or anything else that comes to mind. After you have spent some time on the positive thoughts and phrases, then use the bottom half of the circle to write about the negative words and phrases that you can recall. Again, keep in mind your past, as well as your present experiences. Make sure you include words that reflect the negative words that you have called yourself, as well as phrases you have been called by others, such as “not smart”, “unattractive”, and/or “not worthy”. Write down words that first come to mind.


When you finish writing in the circle, I want you to think about how you felt while doing this exercise. How did it feel to recall the positive words and the memories associated with them? What about the negatives? Read each word or phrase individually on the paper. What feelings are you evoking as you come across each one? Then take note of where each of these words came from? Are they words you have been called by someone else? How is your relationship with that person? Is the word attached to a specific experience or memory? What does this trigger for you? Are any of these words created by you? Far too often, negative words or phrases are used internally to define ourselves in an effort to put ourselves down. Take account all of your feelings during this exercise.


After you have spent time reflecting on the activity, first look at the positive words you have used to describe yourself and see if you can reframe them into negative phrases. After doing so, reframe the negative half of the circle. For each word on the list, try to find the positive reframe of the same word. For example, if you put that you are a workaholic, you can reframe that to passionate and dedicated to your career. If you say that you are stupid, try and think about why you called yourself that. Are you “stupid” because someone made fun of you for not knowing about a certain topic? Give yourself permission to gain knowledge on that topic by reading up and learning about it. You are not stupid, you just were not aware, and now you will be. Every negative word can be reframed with patience and the dedication to work on loving yourself.

Did you find it easier to reframe the positive or the negative words and thoughts? Some people have an easier time seeing the glass half full, while others see it as half-empty. It is important to frame yourself in a way that gives you permission to grow and make mistakes, such as the aforementioned example of giving yourself the ability to learn new things instead of calling yourself stupid for not being aware.

What does it all mean?

The purpose of this exercise is to help you understand your thoughts and feelings about yourself. With continued use of this activity, you will get you into the habit of using positive self-talk instead of putting yourself down. Remember that conditioning yourself to not only identify yourself in a positive manner, but also believing it takes time, so make sure after doing this activity, you enlist in a close friends family members to help you reframe your list when you get stuck. Having a support system to guide you into decreasing your negative thoughts is crucial, and at The Center for Growth, we offer support groups and individual therapy, which both focus on giving yourself permission to love who you are, and help you on your journey.

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