with Dr Katherine

Are you trying to be more positive but somehow, negativity slips back in your life? You Nama-stay in all the right places but your resting bitch face takes you elsewhere? You’re not alone. Being positive isn’t something you achieve overnight, it takes learning the what, how and why to make it stick. We spoke with Dr Katherine to find out how to pimp our positive neurons and put negative thinking to the curb.

Negative thinking is insidious, it’s like a cancer that spreads in silence.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself: when did I start thinking more negatively than positively? It’s hard to figure out, isn’t it? It’s not like one day you are Dr Jekyll and the next day you’re Mr Hyde. Negative thinking is often slow to develop and therefore it’s cause (or catalyst) is challenging to uncover.

Negative thinking and body image seem to go hand in hand. More often than not, I find people are far harsher on their appearance as a whole, rather than individual aspects. For example, you actually might like (gasp!) several parts of your body yet, but overall, you hate how you look. For example, you may love your hair, your back, your boobs and your chin, but when you look in the mirror all you see is … ugly.

Dr Cash, a well-known body image researcher, calls this the Spill-over Effect: it’s like the saying ‘the fly that spoiled the soup’ (or the ointment). The Spill-over Effect is a lose-lose situation, because really, no matter how many parts of your body you like, overall, you’ll always look at yourself negatively.

Can you be positive without sounding like a jerk?

It has become so common for people to speak negatively about themselves that it’s now the new norm.

Consider these comments

‘I love my body!’

‘I’m fabulous/awesome/amazing…’

‘I can wear that. It’ll look great on me.’

How else does it sound? Maybe a bit egotistical? So that leads to my first question: can you say you love yourself and your life, without sounding like a jerk? That is, can you be a positive, upbeat person without sounding like you’re up yourself?

Balancing the positives and the negatives? Yes you can!

If you’re wondering if it’s possible… of course it is! But first, we need to learn about a few sneaky ways that negative thinking can slip into our life. Let’s go back to the Spillover Effect, which is when you allow negativity to ruin any positivity that you have in your life. It’s kind of like passing a car crash on the highway, we get so fixated on it that we don’t notice all the other beautiful things about our trip.

The Spillover Effect is a combination of overgeneralisation and catastrophising, which are forms of cognitive distortions. While that sounds like a super fancy term, all it means is that our way of thinking is distorted. There are several different types of cognitive distortions, but for today, we’re going to focus on two.


Have you ever had a horrible job interview? Me too. HOR-RI-BLE.

Let’s say I interview for a job and don’t get it, which makes me think I’ll suck at all job interviews.

This is overgeneralising, because I take one instance of a situation and think all situations like it will be just as bad.

Or what about this, let’s say I go on a first date and then don’t get asked out on a second date. This may lead me to think that all dating sucks.


Catastrophising is when we predict something negative will occur and then jump to the conclusion that not only will it be negative; it will be catastrophic. A disaster.

If we go back to our examples, this could be: we think we won’t get the job and then predict we’ll need to go bankrupt.

Or, because we weren’t asked on a second date, we catastrophise ahead into the future and picture ourselves forever single and surrounded by cats. #catlady

Overgeneralizing & Catastrophising is ineffective for three reasons:

  1. It includes inaccurate thinking—what we think isn’t necessary what’s true! That’s not a good place to start, is it?
  2. It lowers our quality of our life, because our thoughts are based on untruths, not reality.
  3. It has the potential to cause us a lot of unnecessary emotional discomfort—because if we’re thinking negatively, we’ll likely feel negative too, right?

What can you do about these forms of inefficient thinking?

First, consider these 2 points:

More often than not, when we step back and look at the bigger picture, things are not as bad as we originally thought. So, ask yourself, are you relying on actual evidence to predict the future?

Also ask yourself, what is the probability that the event will actually occur? Or are you just assuming it will happen?

Lastly, are your thoughts based on facts, or just your opinion? Look at the following statements – you’ll see the difference between a fact and an opinion.

  • I’m a failure (opinion) vs I failed a test (fact)
  • I’m lazy (opinion) vs I watched Netflix for 14 hours straight (fact)
  • My best friend hates me (opinion) vs my best friend hasn’t called me for 3 days (fact)

As you can see, there is a HUGE difference between fact and fallacy.

Here’s a little trick: pretend you’re Sherlock Holmes and you have to prove what you predict. For example, how would you prove that you’ll be single forever and surrounded by cats? If you had to prove this in a court of law, you wouldn’t rely on guesswork, you would need to rely on evidence.

Lastly, remember that sometimes things don’t go to plan the first time you try, but never forget the most important point: you gave it a shot! And the more you try something, the easier it gets.



Want to stay up to date?
Subscribe to our newsletter!