Let's connect!

Developing a Habit to Change Negative Thinking

changing negative thinking

Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

To Change Negative Thinking You Have to Catch the Thoughts

In a previous post I talked about establishing a habit of doing a thought download each day. Once you start doing this you will begin to notice thoughts that are not helping you. Thoughts that you might wish you could change. Awareness of your thinking is the first step to change negative thinking.

In my Bible study I learn that God wants me to “transform by the renewing of my mind” (Romans 12:1-2), to “take my thoughts captive”  (2 Corinthians 10:5), and to not “be double-minded” (James 1:8, 4:8). But my old, practiced thoughts keep coming up over and over. My brain has built circuitry to have these negative thoughts come up over and over. It takes awareness and practicing new thoughts in order to change your thinking.

Coach Brooke Castillo has developed a practice which I have felt very helpful in evaluating my thinking and taking steps to practice more intentional thinking. She calls it “the model” and it is a simple but powerful tool. It is based on the realization that any problem in life is actually a thought problem and you can always change how you are thinking about a situation.

The Model

The model is broken down into 5 components: Circumstance, Thought, Feeling, Action and Results (CTFAR).


The circumstance is the facts. Facts that anyone can agree on.

“My boyfriend is a jerk” is not a circumstance. It’s a thought. The circumstance would be, “I have a boyfriend.”


What is your thought about the circumstance? Choose just one thought.


When you have this thought, what feeling does it generate? Your feelings are created by your thoughts.


When you are feeling this way, what do you do?


What are the results of your actions?

How to Put the Model to Use

The way to use this model is to do it twice. The first time you do it is called your unintentional model. It’s how you are already thinking about the circumstance and how it’s impacting your life. For example:

Circumstance –  I weigh 250 pounds

Thought –  I am stuck and can’t lose weight

Feeling –  Hopeless

Action – Overeat because it doesn’t matter anyway

Result – I don’t lose weight

The Intentional Model

The intentional model is where you re-write the circumstance and then tweak it to move you towards a better thought. Using the example above it might be too difficult to change my thinking to something like, “I can lose weight easily.” But I might be able to believe that it’s something I can figure out. Here’s how it changes my model:

Circumstance –  I weigh 250 pounds.

The circumstance doesn’t change. It’s the same as the unintentional model. We don’t change how we feel by changing our circumstances. We change our feelings by changing our thinking.

Thought –  I am figuring this out.

What do I need to think to feel a better feeling. In this example I want to feel more hopeful. So my thought becomes, “I am figuring this out.”

Feeling –  Hopeful.
Thinking that I am figuring this out opens up the possibility in my brain that this can be figured out and brings me hope.

Action – I track my food, plan my meals and evaluate if I can “level up” my eating.

If I feel hopeful I am more likely to take some steps towards figuring it out.

Result – I figure out how to start losing weight.
When I take steps I make progress.


When I keep thinking the way I’ve always thought I stay the same. If I truly want to change and grow I have to change my thinking. The model has given me a practical way to do just that.

This post is a part of a 30 day series for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge. For more in this series click here for the main page with all the links.

About the Author Tammy Fuller

follow me on:
  • Snehal Joshi says:

    Such a lovely post. I do try to avoid all negativity. Would try your method once. Thanks.

  • Neat process! I agree that it’s very important that we find ways to let go of our negative thoughts.

  • >