Where would you prefer to take your mind to? A beautiful zen garden or the worst-case scenario of your life? Of course, you’d prefer the zen garden. Then why is your mind constantly spinning bad scenarios around?
I’m not skilled enough for this job. I’m too exhausted to try. I’m not flexible enough for a yoga class. I don’t have the skill of making friends. I’m no good.
Did you recognize your thinking patterns somewhere in those statements? If that was the case, then you’re guilty of a serious crime: negative thinking. This habit undermines your chances for success in anything you start. It inhibits personal growth and makes you unhappy. You need to act as soon as possible!
The good news is that you can stop this habit. We’ll list 5 simple ways that will help you change the pattern.
1. Mindfulness: Identify the Negative Thinking
Before you can stop a negative thought, you need to catch it. Becoming conscious about every single thought that crosses your mind is the first part of the remedy.
Brian Redford, a team leader from EssayOnTime, shares his experience: “I thought mindfulness was just a cliché. I kept hearing about it, but no one explained it in depth. I did something I never expected to do: I took an online course on mindfulness and it helped me understand the concept. I realized something interesting: I’d always been a negative thinker and I didn’t even know it. Once I started observing my thoughts and actions, I was able to distinguish right from wrong and navigate my own thoughts in the right direction.”
Negative self-talk, jealousy, anger, resentment, pride… those are the negative thoughts and feelings you need to identify. Then, you can act towards improvement.
2. When You Identify a Negative Thought, Change It With a Positive One
This is a weird trick, but it works. Let’s say you catch this thought crossing your mind: “My hair is a disaster today. It makes me feel so unconfident.” That’s a banal thought, but it can really ruin your day.
You can change it with: “I don’t like how my hair looks. It’s time for a new cut and good products.” With this thought, you’re not lying to yourself. You’re not saying “Oh, my hair looks so beautiful” when it doesn’t. You’re confirming the fact, but you’re shifting it with a positive thought that makes you feel good. Suddenly, you get excited about the hairdresser appointment and the products you’re going to buy.
When you turn this practice into a habit, you’ll change the overall negative thinking patterns of your mind.
3. Don’t Stop Them. Let Them Go!
Suppressing negative thoughts and emotions can lead to a disaster. In fact, you need those negative thoughts because they warn you when something is not going well. You have to stop them from going too far, but it’s not okay to suppress them for good.
For example, let’s say you start thinking negative things about your partner. You’re jealous, unhappy, and overly-criticizing. That tells you something is wrong with the relationship. You need to work on the aspects that don’t work… or put an end on something that’s not working at all. If you keep suppressing those thoughts and convincing yourself that you’re fine and no one else could love you – now that’s real negative thinking.
When you recognize the negative thoughts, observe them without analyzing them. It’s a technique known as detachment. Sit and meditate. Do not cause any thoughts on purpose and do not stop the ones that appear. Don’t get attached to any thought. It’s like observing a river that flows. This technique helps you let go. It leaves you with a sense of understanding. You’ll realize where it’s all coming from and you’ll know how to act. It takes time and practice before you master it, but you’ll get there.
4. Stop Rushing through Life. Start Appreciating Everything!
What’s the best remedy against negative thinking? Positive thinking. The answer is so simple, it’s a wonder how we’re not doing the obvious thing to do. Whenever you’re feeling so bad that you can’t find any positive thought in your mind, it’s time to stop and look around.
Do not rush through your daily responsibilities thinking that’s the way to get your mind out of the bad stuff. Take a deep breath. Look at a tree, a familiar face, a favorite item in your home… appreciate everything! When you build this kind of immunity against negative states of being, you won’t let the bad thoughts drive you through a downward spiral. Stop, breathe, and remind yourself of the good things you have.
5. Stop Imposing Expectations on Yourself
When others expect too much of you, you’re under a huge pressure. If you don’t meet those expectations, you feel you disappointed them. There’s something even worse: imposing your own expectations. When you constantly strive for perfect results, you’re never happy.
These are the thoughts that ruin your mood: “I am so lame. How could I do this? Why can’t I be better? Why can’t I be like him/her? Why do I mess up everything?”
Do yourself a favor and stop that! Yes, goals are good. You should always set goals. However, you shouldn’t be a perfectionist. Do not blame yourself for the mistakes you make; learn from them. Every failure is a lesson that can make you a better achiever in future.
Here’s another cliché for you: don’t focus on the destination so much that you lose the joy of the journey. When you appreciate the journey, every single lesson counts. It makes you grow. That’s a positive thought that can push you forward!
Brenda Savoie is a life coach, private English tutor, and desperate dreamer. Writing her first romantic novel. Seeking contentment through mindfulness. Check her last article “Who Invented Homework?and Why?”