Negative Into Positive

in All Posts

When I speak to younger kids, I understand that I’ve got to keep ‘em interested or I will lose them to a flurry of whispers and giggles.  One way to hold the attention is to keep them engaged.  I pass out index cards and have them write one positive thought and one negative thought that they’ve had about themselves.  Their positive and negative thoughts can be about their appearance or personalities.


I ask for volunteers to share their thoughts at different points in the presentation. 


One of the things that I noticed this morning is how, when we’re discussing negative thoughts, everyone says, ‘I am weird’ or ‘I am different’ or ‘I don’t look like everyone else.’  But then, when we discuss positive thoughts, everyone says, ‘I am UNIQUE!’ or ‘I am a limited edition!’ or ‘I am an individual.’  An interesting dichotomy, huh?  Wanting to be like everyone else but knowing that being unique is desirable, too?  That was always the hardest thing for me during my middle school years… Wanting to stand out but blend in, wanting to be accepted but wanting to be myself.  


I think it’s always nice for the girls to hear that everyone feels a bit ‘weird’ every now and then.  Even the ‘cool’ girls who seem so pulled together admitted to feeling out of place sometimes.  It’s interesting to think how a roomful of girls can all feel so alone at the same time, huh?


My negative thoughts of the day:


I am lazy and am not getting enough done. My e-mail is imploding.

Why does Henry keep getting the sniffles? I should clean better; I’m clearly doing something wrong.


Step 1:  My negative thoughts are ridiculous.  I am doing a good job, and I need to learn how to relax more so I can be happier overall.  Everything important will get done.  The world will not end if I have to push a deadline or two.  And babies get sick; that’s what babies do.  I can’t control everything that happens to him.


Step 2:  Positive thought time!


I am a hard worker.

I am a good momma.


Your turn!



  • Lisa February 4, 2013, 2:08 pm

    Love this! It’s such an important message to spread among kids and even our peers. Many people my age simply talk themselves down and live in such a negative place and it makes me so sad to see. I always keep a notebook with me, where I’ve written a list of 10 things I’m grateful for and everytime I get anxious or upset or emotional, I just look at my list and it really helps put things into perspective. Especially when I’m dwelling on a silly thought!

  • Abby February 4, 2013, 2:10 pm

    Negative thoughts
    Will I ever get back in shape after two kids?
    Same thought as you…my girls have been sick I swear all month! What am I doing wrong?

    Positive thoughts
    One step at a time, I joined the gym, took a great class yesterday, quit drinking soda
    I am so lucky to be able to stay home with my gir le and snuggle with them all the time.( we were all in the bath together this morning at 10:00am, everyone got out happy :)!

  • Kelly February 4, 2013, 2:13 pm

    Um, I still have that dichotomy today…at 34 years old! I want to be like everyone else, but I also know that I am happy to be who I am, even if that means being a little “weird”. That’s the beauty of growing up and getting to know other people – you realize everyone is weird! EVERYONE. Ha. I am loving and I am loyal to a fault. I’d rather be those things that all the negative things I sometimes think I’m not (pretty, skinny, perfectly straight teeth, etc.).

    It’s good your baby is sick sometimes – he’s building an immune system – and from the fact that you “scrub” your floors, I assure you, you are not doing anything wrong! Hope he feels better soon.

  • Sara February 4, 2013, 2:16 pm

    So nice to meet you today! Thank you for coming and speaking to us!

    • Caitlin February 4, 2013, 3:01 pm

      You too!!!

  • Alex @ Raw Recovery February 4, 2013, 2:20 pm

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the new blog header, Caitlin! It’s stunning!

  • Gina February 4, 2013, 2:25 pm

    I think a lot like them too! I spent so much time worrying about my every move because people were “judging”, but you really realize that people are much more consumed by their own insecurities! My negatives have been the stress of unemployment and the never-ending job search. Lately I have seen this as a positive because I really NEVER thought I could live below what I was used to and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to give up (and I haven’t given up the healthy food)! Hope Henry feels better also!!!

  • Natalie @ Free Range Human February 4, 2013, 2:31 pm

    Let’s see.

    Negative Thoughts:

    This 5 extra pounds I’ve gained are really making me feel bad about myself.
    The blog is not growing. No one cares what I have to say.

    Positive Thoughts:
    That’s ridiculous! 5 lbs. aren’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Not to mention, they are a direct result from switching birth control pills. Keep working hard and eating right and everything will be fine!

    • Kim February 4, 2013, 3:29 pm

      I just found your blog the other day and I think it’s great. SO THERE :p!

      • Caitlin February 4, 2013, 3:35 pm


  • Amanda February 4, 2013, 2:39 pm

    Good exercise in positive thinking for the kids. This is such an important skill to have and to start with as a child!

    No such thing as needing to keep things cleaner. I always thought the more dirt the better 🙂 That way baby’s immune system isn’t shocked when it comes in contact with germs. At least that’s what I tell myself as a working FT mama who wishes so badly that I could stay on top of keeping my floors clean. Meh.

  • Emily February 4, 2013, 2:42 pm

    Negative: I can’t wear half the clothes in my closet; they’re all too small.
    Into a positive: I’ve joined an all girls/women’s bootcamp that’s making me feel STRONG and I’m focusing on lots of protein and produce in my diet. I’m starting to get healthy again; the weight loss will come!
    PS: hope Henry feels better soon! I second the comment that babies get the sniffles because they’re building an immune system 🙂

  • April February 4, 2013, 2:56 pm

    It makes me sad that kids start doubting their looks at such an early age but at least they can also appreciate and celebrate their uniqueness! I hope that if I ever have kids, I can teach them acceptance.

    My negative thoughts today are centered around why I can’t figure out what I want to do, where I want to live, etc. Ya know, the little things in life! On a positive note, I am doing little things each day to make me a healthier person like drinking water, bring tons of fruits and veggies to work for snacks, and resisting the temptation of reaching into that evil M&M bowl!

  • Blythe February 4, 2013, 3:00 pm

    That truly defined my younger days! Then one day after battling with my scale, I moved away to college and never bought another one. It’s been 10 years since I’ve lived with a scale, and I am so much happier for it!
    I cook dinner almost every night and we always have clean clothes. But, given then choice, I’d rather go for a run with my hubby and 6-month old than sweep and mop my floors!
    We can’t do it all, but any time spent playing with a baby is never wasted time!

  • Lauren @ Eat Like An Elephant February 4, 2013, 3:36 pm

    I remember feeling exactly like this in junior high. I had a group of “friends”…some were real friends, some weren’t. Even though I always had someone to walk to class with, I was always TRYING to be cool, as if one day they would realize I wasn’t cool at all. I think it took until college to really get to the point of just being comfortable with me and knowing who I am and if someone didn’t like it, that was fine too. But that’s actually a really long time, if you think about it!

  • Joni February 4, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Honest to God —- When my Mom had her firstborn she was uber clean and my brother was always sick. The doctor actually told her to quit making the house so sterile. 🙂 So there you go a doctor’s approval to not scrub so much.

    • Caitlin February 4, 2013, 4:38 pm


  • Hillary February 4, 2013, 4:38 pm

    I teach middle school, and I see this dichotomy every single day. I’m always assured by the fact that I get them during their most awkward years; they’ll eventually figure themselves out!

    Negative thought of the day: I’ve gained back a few of the pounds I lost over the summer.
    Positive thought of the day: I’m an awesome freaking teacher.

  • Kim February 4, 2013, 4:52 pm

    Negative: Pregnancy bacne sucks and I just read last night that I might get hemorrhoids during pregnancy (eww).

    Positive: Healthy baby on the way and I get to work in my pajamas all day 🙂

  • Stephanie February 4, 2013, 5:03 pm

    I have a daughter in the fifth grade. I asked her to do the activity you did, and she was hard pressed to come up with a significant negative. I don’t think it occurs to her to equate difference with negativity at this point. While I don’t feel she is overconfident or full of herself, she just doesn’t do negative self-talk. I wonder if being in a room full of girls discussing their negatives might influence her to focus on her own negatives more?

    I’m sure that there are children (not just girls) who are already focusing on their self-perceived ‘deficiencies’ in fifth grade, but I think that there is a risk of teaching younger audiences that negative self-talk is the norm when developmentally they are not thinking that way. Although it’s been quite awhile since I read it, I think of “Reviving Ophelia” where pre-adolescent girls generally perceive themselves and their world in a more positive light. In a group setting these girls who don’t otherwise feel negativity about their appearances or personalities might feel pressured to come up with some type of answer or might feel like if the ‘cool’ crowd worries about some characteristic, maybe they should too.

    • Caitlin February 4, 2013, 5:12 pm

      Yay, I love that your daughter struggles to think of anything negative! I agree with you – some of the younger girls just aren’t ‘there’ yet (thank god). I always say that they can write down something negative they think about themselves OR if they can’t think of an example, something negative that they have heard another woman say about themselves before.

    • Bianca February 5, 2013, 7:59 am

      As a 5th grade teacher, I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t even make reference to negative self-talk. I find that a frank discussion about how everyone has strengths and weaknesses allows Tweens to take better ownership of their emotions related to themselves as a person, and can hold off on self-trashing for awhile. We practice saying things like “I have to work harder in math, but that’s okay because I rock at reading.” Etc.

  • Meghan February 4, 2013, 5:30 pm

    Hey, are you giving Henry probiotics? I noticed a huge drop in sniffles when I started giving my now 19 month old RAW Probiotics kids from Garden of Life at 6 months of age. However, it is true that babies just get sick, that’s what they do.

    • Caitlin February 4, 2013, 5:51 pm

      we do occasionally but maybe i need to get better about it!

  • Beth @ Running with the Sunrise February 4, 2013, 7:22 pm

    Oh, my heart aches for those girls and every girl who’s having a tough time in middle school or high school. It’s just so hard to put things in perspective at that age, especially during those years when it feels so important to fit in. Thank you for working with them to show them that they are perfect just the way they are.

  • Katie @peacebeme February 4, 2013, 7:33 pm

    This is why I won’t ever let myself have children. The world is too sad for girls. I would feel too guilty taking the risk. You Are doing such a good thing talking to them though Caitlin! My positive is that I am the bravest person I know!

  • Angela February 4, 2013, 7:46 pm

    This is just what I needed today! I have been having a lot of negative thoughts and anxiety about things I can’t necessarily control. I needed an attitude adjustment and a change of perspective. I am so bad with change, and at this season of my life where the changes are huge and scary, I need to take it one step at a time and realize the chaos is only temporary.

    • Caitlin February 4, 2013, 8:12 pm

      feel better <3

  • Amber K February 4, 2013, 8:37 pm

    I remember always wanting to be an individual, but still wishing I had the backing of my peers. I wanted credit for being my own person! It seems so counter-intuitive, but I can totally understand.

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More February 4, 2013, 11:19 pm

    I had a rough morning. I went to bed in a funk, woke up in a funk and it just carried through. I left the chiropractor in tears full of all sorts of emotions but after a great run, I started turning things around. My run was my opportunity to relax a bit and let GO, to stop being so hard on myself. I’m still dealing with the issues I was earlier this morning, but have been able to turn my day around. Slightly different, but still a similar concept.

  • Becky February 4, 2013, 11:23 pm

    Negative thoughts of the day:
    I’m am not a good wife, my jobs takes up too much time
    Why can’t my students get along? I’m not doing enough

    I can’t do everything, there are a lot of things to get done every day, and you do your best to balance your life every day. You can’t be your students parents, you only have them for 2.75 hours. Only 2 of them don’t get along, the other 10 need love, attention, and support as well. Your husband loves you regardless and if his major complaint is that he doesn’t spend enough time with you, things could be a lot worse.

    Positive thoughts:
    I am loved, and I love well.
    I am a good teacher.

  • Willemijn @ Fashion Food Travel February 5, 2013, 4:52 am

    Wow, I really love this. You’re doing such a good job! I wish I could have had you over when I was in middle/high school.
    I should really turn my daily negative thoughts into positive ones. You really inspired me with this post. Thank you!

  • Melissa February 5, 2013, 10:41 am

    My sweet baby boy (almost 9 years old) came home recently telling me a kid at school calls him fat. He’s got some baby fat, but is NOT fat. So, we talked about bullying and self image, etc. (I have to admit being a long time reader of your blog helped!).
    Later that week he asked to start running with me. So we started couch to 5k and then a week into it signed up to do a 5k together. He’s also bcoming aware of making healthy food choices.
    After a run the other day he said something that made me so proud. He said “that kid wanted to make me feel bad. How funny is it that I will be running a 5k all because he was mean? I’m going to do something good when he was trying to make me feel bad”
    Definitely turned a negative into a positive.

  • Heather February 5, 2013, 3:41 pm

    I can’t believe how fat and out of shape I have allowed myself to become.
    I don’t do enough for my family.

    This body has carried and brought into this world two healthy, precious babies.
    I am a patient and loving mommy.

  • Cassandra F. February 5, 2013, 11:15 pm

    Negative thought: I’ve been job hunting since last September and have gotten plenty of interviews, but nobody has picked me. What’s wrong with me? Have I let the pain and struggles of adopting kids beat me down so much it shows on my face? I’ve always been such a fighter with such a positive attitude; why is it suddenly so hard?

    Positive thought: My adopted kids now seek me out just to snuggle or goof around, when they used to ignore and push me away. I’m doing right by them, and I CAN provide enough love and commitment to fill that giant hole in their hearts!

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point