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Good Thoughts Always Seem to Turn Bad

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My mind tends to wander and daydream on random topics throughout the day. (undiagnosed ADHD as a child and adult)
For years these thoughts, who are always pleasant at first, always take a turn for the worst and a replaced by a common themed negative thought.
I see someone play soccer.
I remember back to when I played soccer in school and I’m happy.
Then my mind flashes back to a memory of soccer that I cringe and am ashamed at.

or it could be something unrelated

I’m sitting in my car about to go to work.
I’m listening to random music.
A memory of myself failing a huge project randomly flashes across my mind.

I swear at myself every time this happens and I can’t control it. The only thing I can do is to just shut my mind off and do nothing. For me, it’s second nature when a time, place, or event comes up I flashback to my worst experience with that thing is. Right now, I don’t even want to touch the programs I learned to use in college because I’m plagued with memories of my failures and how I disappointed the teachers that set me up with such high standards from my previous accomplishments only for me to prove them wrong and break down at the end when I really needed to succeed. My fears and anxieties got the better of me. My lack of self confidence from these thoughts has really hindered my want and ability to acquire a job in my industry and if I could get a handle on them, it would be a great help and relief.

Good Thoughts Always Seem to Turn Bad

Answered by on -


This type of negative self talk is often indicative of depression. At a minimum, it indicates that you have a negative self-opinion. Each of us has a similar inner dialogue. It’s basically like a running commentary on our lives. Yours happens to be negative but you can change it with counseling. In counseling, you can learn to have a more realistic view of yourself. Think of counseling as an opportunity to “change the script” of your life.

The way we think about ourselves impacts our behavior. As you noted, negative thoughts are degrading the quality of your life. They are keeping you from getting the job you want and living a satisfying life. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you choose to seek help, things can change. Your life can improve.

Negative thinking is a very common problem. It is also a very treatable problem. The best treatment for it, is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of talk therapy targets negative thought patterns and attempts to change them to be more accurate and rational. Studies show that CBT is an effective treatment for depression, anxiety and many other disorders.

Therapy is the ideal solution to your problem because it involves consulting a professional who is trained to treat the very problems with which you are struggling. Should you decide to seek help, choose a therapist who specializes in CBT.

In addition to counseling, you might also try reading self-help books. The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns is very good. You can watch his Ted Talk here to get a sense of the topics he addresses in his books. Your library might have some other great books as well. Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Good Thoughts Always Seem to Turn Bad

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Good Thoughts Always Seem to Turn Bad. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 24 Jan 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.