Imagine what your life would be like without doubt or fear preventing you from trying new things.
Where you decide to take a chance on things despite the outcome.
Because you aren’t afraid of making the wrong decision.
And even if you did end up making a horrible mistake, you wouldn’t resort to feeling like a total failure who isn’t capable of anything.
Instead you’d be upset, but it wouldn’t take over your whole day.
You’d learn from it and move on.
This is a rational way of thinking.
Negative thoughts create an alternative world in your head.
They are defeating and can convince of pretty much anything.
Negative thinking can and will take over your life if you allow it.
But, there are ways to push past it and see the good in things.
Changing your mindset might sound impossible, but it’s actually quite easy.
What makes it complicated is the fact that working on your mental health isn’t deemed as important in society.
We are all way too focused on making more money, buying new things, and distracting ourselves from our thoughts.
We also weren’t given the proper tools to know how to handle our thoughts, when they get out of control.
That doesn’t mean that it’s overly complicated, though.
It just means you’ll have to make the decision to make your mental health a priority, and work on it every day.
Just like brushing your teeth or working out.
Start by being more aware of your thoughts
We have thousands and thousands of thoughts in a single day. Some are totally random, some are intentional, and some are consciously.
Like when you take a look at yourself in the mirror, a quick thought might cross your mind before you even register it.
It’s so second nature that you might not even be realizing you’re having a negative thought.
To stop the negative thoughts from creeping in, pay attention to when they are happening.
Do they happen in front of the mirror? In a large group of people? Around your family? At work?
Don’t let those negative thoughts pass by without any recognition.
They are secretly making you feel bad, without you even getting a say in it. That’s the power of your inner critic, she’s a sneaky one.
When you figure out when those negative thoughts are happening, that’s when you can start stopping them in their tracks.
By knowing when they come around.
Break down those thoughts into bite-sized pieces.
If you hear them when you’re looking in the mirror, you can work on quieting them by being more aware when you look in the mirror.
Stop Giving So Much Value to Negative Thoughts
Every single person out there has negative thoughts. We all have an inner critic.
Whether or not you choose to listen to yours is up to you.
You can still have negative thoughts and not let them control what you do.
The less value you give the bad thoughts, the more they just become thoughts.
When you have negative thoughts, instead of letting them freak you out, why not just look at them for what they are.
Let them pass by like a cloud and observe what they are telling you.
Let’s say your thoughts are saying you shouldn’t go out with this guy because it probably won’t work out.
Unless there are red flags from the start, give it a shot anyways.
Rationalize Your Thoughts
Negative thoughts don’t provide much value. They just convince you to feel terrible, instead of allowing you to feel happy.
I don’t really think there is any good that comes out of negative thinking.
So, when you start feeling negative, work on rationalizing those thoughts.
If you don’t feel very positive about where your life is heading and think “I am such a loser, my life isn’t going anywhere and I might as well get used to feeling like this.”
Ask why you feel that why. What is causing those bad thoughts? Are they helping you in any way? What are you making up in your head, that is most likely not true?
And then think about how those thoughts aren’t doing anything but making you feel like crap.
When you can choose to rationalize those thoughts and say
“It feels like my life isn’t going anywhere just because I am learning how to figure things out.
It’s a process, and some days are harder than other. It doesn’t mean I won’t get my life figured out, it just means I have to give myself a break and continue to do my best.
My negative thoughts only make the situation worse, when I could be working on encouraging myself to keep moving forward.”
Try to talk to yourself like you would your best friend. If your friend is feeling bad about their life, think about what you’d tell them to make them feel better.
But, in this case, do it to yourself! Stop those bad thoughts in their tracks and give yourself a pep talk.
Practice Positive Thinking
I know what it’s like when I am feeling extra negative and people around me tell me to “just change your thinking” or “just be happy”.
As if it’s as easy as flipping a switch.
I’m not here to tell you to change your thinking right now and “just be positive”. It’s, unfortunately, not that easy.
Removing the negative thoughts takes time. The way we are programmed to think and believe can be engrained in us over years and years.
We develop habits in our ways of thinking, and it’s difficult to try to change that within a day.
And, the more you believe a negative thought to be true, the harder it is to let go of that thought.
What you can do is slowly practice bringing in more positive thoughts. Start small, and work on it daily.
Tips on how to practice positive thinking:
- Come up with a short affirmation that’s easy to repeat like, “I am grateful for my life”, “I am calm”, “I’m awesome”, “I love myself”. Keeping it short makes it easier to remember.
- Avoid negative words in your positive talk. Instead of saying “I won’t be afraid today”, say “I will be brave today”
- Do what feels right. Don’t say positive words that go against what you truly believe. That’s why keeping it simple and doing it on your terms will stick better, because it’s on your terms. If you don’t fully believe in an affirmation, skip it and find one that does work for you.
Stop the Black or White Thinking
Do you find that you end up using extreme words to describe negative things in your life?
Words like always, never, every time, hate. When you get in an argument with a friend and say they “always make you feel terrible about yourself”.
This is black or white thinking. There is no in between, which leaves very little room for flexibility. It’s why negative thoughts start to form because there isn’t room for anything else.
Black and white thinking isn’t how the world works. There are so many possibilities to one thing, and believing there is only one way to do something is very limiting.
It causes stress and anxiety and you get lost in the cycle of negative thoughts.
Instead, try practicing gray thinking. This opens up your mind for more optimism.
For a quick and easy exercise, practice finding the middle between these words:
Think of these words and what comes in between those two. Between black and white are all of the other colors that are possibly out there.
Between near and far is always the middle. And there are many different terms for people who aren’t young or old. Middle aged.
And even still, being young can be anything from a newborn to 45. Being old can be anywhere from 25 to 100, depending how you look at things.
Do you see how black or white thinking isn’t very logical? With so many things that come in between, only focusing on the negative isn’t very realistic.
The next time you find a negative thought floating in, try to think about the gray areas instead of the extremes.
For example, let’s say you interviewed for a job and never got a call back. Black and white thinking is “I did terrible during the interview and they hated me.”
Grey thinking is “There are so many reasons why they didn’t call me back, and I might not ever know the real reason.
It could have been anything from they were too busy to tell me I didn’t get it, or they thought I was a good fit but they interviewed someone else who was even more qualified.”
You don’t instantly have to go to the worst thoughts in your head. That’s self-sabatoge and it ruins your confidence.