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Despite our best efforts to find happiness, there are times when, for all sorts of reasons, life is tough and rather than experiencing happiness we find ourselves feeling the opposite. Painful thoughts and feelings can be difficult to handle but there is no shame in admitting to ourselves or others that we are struggling. When this happens it is worth taking time to work through those difficult times with someone we can trust. When we talk to someone else we can learn a lot about ourselves and the situation we are in, gain new perspectives or insights and discover new coping skills.

Sometimes in life we also experience automatic negative thoughts that may or may not be true. Some thoughts can take on a life of their own. For example, we can apply negative labels to describe ourselves, our looks, abilities, personality or character. We can find ourselves thinking that bad things ‘always happen to us’. Therefore, it is also vital to explore our negative thoughts and feelings to find out what is behind them, ask if they are true and, if necessary, come up with ways we can challenge them appropriately. After all, just because we think something doesn’t mean it is true.

If you are finding life tough right now then think about who you could talk to or check out our sources of help page.


Learning to challenge our thoughts, seek help when we need it, and develop a more optimistic outlook on life can take time, especially if life is tough. Talk to someone if you are struggling. Remember most negative thoughts and problems will pass with time. Have a go at challenging those thoughts and it will become easier over time.

  1. Talk to someone you can trust.
  2. Visit a website like www.youngminds.org.uk or www.beheadstrong.uk for information and advice on coping with specific issues you may be facing.
  3. Spend some time listing all your good points.
  4. List some good things that are coming up in your life.
  5. Remember three things that made you laugh at the end of each day for a week.
  6. Stick the words STOP, REWIND and GO on post-it notes in your room and use this to remind you how to question your own thoughts and attitudes about a negative situation.
  7. Write down an experience when you overcame a tough situation. How were you able to do it? What worked well for you? What is important to keep in mind for next time?
  8. Create an action plan to deal with an issue that concerns you. Brainstorm solutions and write a list of pros and cons for different decisions.
  9. Spend time with family and friends if you are feeling low.
  10. Throw negative thoughts away. List some negative thoughts about yourself or a situation on some paper then screw them up and put in the bin.
  11. Write a list of positive I am/I have statements. E.g. I am smart, I have good friends, I am good at...
  12. Create a diversion if your mind is filled with too many thoughts. You could do something creative, get active, listen to some music or watch a movie or box set.