Fighting negative thoughts is a continuous battle which you will have to carry forever. Negativity will always try to make room in your life through the cracks it finds in your positivity armor. Most of us have had our brain wrongly wired for so long that it’s very normal for it to try and slip a few pessimistic ideas in our daily schedule of positive thinking. And if what your brain feeds you daily with is just fear and the dark side of things, it’s even worse, as this plague will infect every area of your life.
You’ve taken the wrong train, so it’s time to change that! I want you to lose the chains that are holding you and start running towards the happy places in life. Let’s do it!
Why Am I Always Thinking Negative?
There are numerous reasons for which your mind acts like this. Generally speaking, let’s say that the annoying voice inside your head is programmed completely wrong. Now, that filter called “perspective” attributes a negative connotation to most of your thoughts.
You were born with 0 negative thoughts, but these were formed by external factors such as: negative media stories, negative thinking, education and/or advice from authoritarian figures (parents, teachers, relatives) or the influence of a negative entourage.
Think of yourself as a robot. If the robot is programmed to think that it is bad to smell flowers, it will never do it. Same goes for you. If your mind is programmed to believe that you will fail no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, then this is what will happen. In the end, you become what you believe you can become.
How Can I Think More Positively?
There was a time when I was asking myself this question too. I was sick of predicting negative outcomes to every situation, outcomes that rarely became reality. So I started with…
1. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
This required a little bit of thought tracking. In fact, generally any action against negative thinking requires you to continuously be aware of what you think. Each time I caught myself being afraid to do something or take a step towards something I was trying to accomplish I asked myself: what’s the worst thing that can happen? Will one of my arms fall off, will I get sick, will someone die?
No? Then do it!
The funniest thing is that the outcome was nowhere near the worst result I imagined.
Exercise: I have a simple request I’d like to make. Think of something that you’re afraid of doing, due to negative thinking. Now, let yourself predict a few negative outcomes that may happen when trying to do that thing. Analyze them carefully and be honest to yourself: Is “the worst thing that can happen” really that bad?
2. Positivity – Negativity = Positivity
You have probably heard this advice over and over again, so I’m not going to stress so much on it. It’s not enough to try and remove negative thoughts from your system. It doesn’t work this way. You need to replace the negative thought with its positive opposite. So, if you’re thinking that tomorrow’s interview will go bad and you won’t get hired, change that to: “Tomorrow’s interview will be the best of my life. I will definitely impress and get this job. I am great and I will let them see this.”. Repeat this again and again, try and imagine how well things will go and offer your brain as many details as possible. It’s really important that you connect positive emotions to these thoughts.
Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones is important. But even more important than this are actions. For me, trying to replace negative thoughts with positive ones helped a little but the real change really came when I started providing my brain proof that it’s negative outcomes are wrong. The only way you can provide real proof is action.
For example, if you’d be trying to learn to dance salsa, your brain would probably say something like: “Na, it’s useless to sign up for a salsa course, I will probably quit after the first week.”. At this point, you should prove your brain that you will not quit after the first week, or the second, or the third (or never). In order to change your negative thinking, you need to build a lot of small wins and small action until you start changing your perspective.
It’s better to take at least some small action than not take any action at all.
4. Remember a time when …
One of the techniques that really helped me was to remember a time when I had the same type of negative thoughts and the outcome was positive. For example, if you’re thinking of starting a new project but feel that this is futile as it will not have success, remember a time when you’ve had the same thoughts but you still did it and the result was positive. It doesn’t have to be something big but just something to convince you that things can take a positive turn.
5. Do a good deed
Helping other people, doing good deeds and generally giving will make you feel better about yourself. Positive emotions will positively influence your thoughts as well and you will find yourself having a more proactive attitude.
Be good to people around you, make a donation or generally make someone happy and by the end of the day you will find yourself being a happier and more positive person.
6. Don’t mind “defeats”
Everybody fails. EVERYBODY! Get that into your head. Failure is the strictest teacher you can have, but also the best one. If you wouldn’t fail, you would never become good at something. Failing today means that you have one less chance to fail tomorrow, meaning that you’re one step closer to success. I love failing! And you should love it too.
But, if instead of loving to fail, you perceive it as a negative thing, it will drag you down and take a big chunk out of your courage next time you will be trying to achieve something. In my opinion, most of the negative thoughts people have come from wrongly perceived failures. You tried doing something, you didn’t succeed at it the first or second time, then you quit and thought that you’re no good at this. Then you’ve done the same again and again with other stuff until you decided that you aren’t good at anything. This is when small defeats turned into a snowball effect.
7. Smile and adopt a confident body posture
Positive thinking influences your body posture and makes you smile more often. But this works the other way around as well. Smiling and adopting a confident body posture will make you more confident, happy and implicitly help you see things in a positive light. Here’s a great article on how body posture can change the way you think about yourself.
I don’t think that there’s such a thing as negative situations (except for real tragedies). Everything depends on the way you see things, on your perspective. You must try and look for the positive in everything. Life is short. Do you really want to live it under shades of gray and being afraid to do the things that make you happy?
Stop worrying! Start living!