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"List the positives"

Paul Duggan – UK Wellbeing Lead | Mental Health Network Co-lead, Accenture

“One of the things I try to do every day is to list the positives.

It may come as a surprise to some that know me(!) – but I have always struggled with confidence. Last year I decided to try and tackle this.

Having spent time with a counsellor I came to terms with having a negativity bias – i.e. I pay a lot of attention to negative inputs (some real, a lot imagined) while largely ignoring positive ones. This leads me to be overly self-critical. My understanding is that this is pretty common.

To help me change my thinking I was given a simple exercise. For a few minutes every day I make a list of anything positive that has happened, big or small. This might be a compliment, gratitude for having done something or a situation in which I am proud of how I have behaved. Initially this felt self-indulgent but having stuck with it I have come to see that I was tuning out a lot of positivity in my life.

Over time I have used this approach to become more receptive to this positivity and now, hopefully, have a more balanced view of things. This doesn’t mean I ignore negative or difficult circumstances, but that I don’t afford them the same power that I used to and therefore give myself an easier time.

It’s not always easy admitting these things, but this simple technique really helps me, so I’m hoping it might help some others too.”

Paul Duggan

Paul Duggan