Negativity can stress you out and block the happiness you could enjoy. If you could only recalibrate your brain to reduce negative thinking that the human race comes by honestly. Negative thoughts were once valuable in helping early humans avoid danger. And negative thinking can also be a result of unhappy childhood habits brought on by being teased or bullied. Or by parents who regularly put you down. Or by unfortunate circumstances beyond your control.
Now is the time to break the chain and relearn how to think more positively. Here are some ideas to help you:
- Acknowledge and Accept. This is the first step to reducing negativity. As you would in mindfulness meditation, you will want to notice your negative thoughts without judging yourself or the thought itself. Just accept that you are having it. That, alone, reduces its negative prominence in your mind. And you probably know from experience, that the more you try to stop thinking something, the more that thought stubbornly reappears. So take a deep breath. Try to be kind to yourself. Think of what would you say to a friend who was suffering from the same negative thoughts you’re having. Think of how you’d console her. You’d find a way to prop her up and make her feel better. Do the same for yourself.
- Be Practical. Bad stuff happens to good people all the time, not just you. Maybe you were passed over for a promotion at work. And you can’t stop obsessing about it. How unfair it is. How the person who did get the job is not as qualified as you. But the fact is, this incident is over. It’s already happened. You need to stop thinking about it. Instead, put this negativity behind you and learn from it. Think about what you might do to be tapped for the next opportunity. Develop a strategy to get promoted and focus on that.
- Cultivate Objectivity. Make an effort to reduce black and white thinking. You probably aren’t going to fail the test. You might not get the A you had hoped for, but exaggeration exacerbates negativity. All or nothing thinking is not really objective thinking. Neither is over-generalizing. If you, in fact, did not do well on the test, resist telling yourself that you can’t learn anything. That you’re stupid and will never do well. That nothing ever goes right for you. Stop! Calm down. Try to be objective. You didn’t do well on that one test. Of course you’re not happy about it. How can you do better next time?
- Adopt the Corollary to Murphy’s Law. You know Murphy’s Law—what can go wrong will go wrong. But not everything can go wrong all the time. Sometimes things go right. Make an effort to see the bright side. This doesn’t mean you have to be an annoying Pollyanna, but it does mean that with a little effort you can imagine a glass half full. Practice finding the positive side of things and this will help you train your brain. The more you dwell on positive thoughts, the more your brain gets accustomed to them. So replace those negative thoughts with ideas that will build you up.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.