The Challenge: Negative thinking can limit our potential and stand in the way of our goals.
The Science: The human brain has evolved to focus on anything stressful, making us all the more vigilant when it comes to negative stimuli.
The Solution: Simple strategies such as identifying negative thoughts and meditating can weaken the power of negative thinking.
The alarm goes off, and the day starts. Oh, if you could only sleep for at least one more hour! There are just so many responsibilities to handle: your boss keeps pushing you to do things that you can’t possibly do within working hours; you’re aware that, inevitably, you’ll have to take some of that work home. Your partner is there, but you’ve barely not seen each other lately. Not to mention, there’s that pestering colleague, too — you ought to get paid just for having to put up with her day in and day out! And, of course, once you finally get home, you’ll have to cook and clean, and you won’t have time for that TV show. Why bother waking up, anyway?
This is a problem we’ve all faced throughout our lives. It’s called negative thinking. Even when motivated to do something, negative thoughts can kill the enthusiasm. Do you want another example? What happens when you see someone with a beautiful, clean white shirt with a stain on the collar? You’ll no longer notice the whiteness. Your mind will be focused on the stain. Negativity attracts it.
Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, explains that the human nervous system evolved to become vigilant and wary. The brain has separate systems for positive and negative stimuli, and it reacts more intensely to negative ones. Since the negative stimuli cause stress and call for a reaction, we perceive them more quickly and easily. Our nature is prone to exposing threats, so we focus on them.
However, the mind also makes mistakes. When it inflates the negative and ignores the positive, it slips you into a continuous pattern of negative thinking. That leads to depression, anxiety, or pure stress and sadness. There’s a way out of that state of being. You just have to try. We’ll suggest 5 simple ways to fight and stop negative thinking from ruining your life.
Catch the Negative Thoughts. Then, Turn Them Around
The alarm goes off early in the morning. You start thinking: “Oh, I wish I could sleep more.” Catch that thought! Recognize the negative patterns of your mind. When you reveal them, you won’t let them take you in the labyrinth of continuous negative thinking. “Okay, that’s a negative thought. How do I feel about it? What can I do about it?”
What can you do? You can turn it around. “Okay, I have to get up. But I set that alarm early so that I can meditate, make a smoothie, and make myself pretty for the day. There are tons of responsibilities ahead. Today, I feel like I have energy for them. I’ll try harder.”
Do you see the difference in these thoughts when compared to the ones at the beginning of the article? All thoughts have an emotional charge. The first step is recognition. When you realize that something is wrong with the way you think, it will be easier to make a change.
This doesn’t mean you need to stop the negative thoughts. Observe them and let them pass. Catch them and try to turn them around. Never bury them in your subconscious levels. They will get out with an even greater emotional charge sooner or later.
Natalya Richards, a writer from BestEssays, works with students who have a negative attitude toward academic writing. “They hate it,” – she says. “When I’m trying to help someone improve their writing skills, I start from the negative thinking background. Why don’t you like writing essays? As an answer, the student thinks of a myriad of excuses. Then, I convince them that everyone can learn how to write. I make them believe it. That positive affirmation is the first step to success.”
Start the day with a positive affirmation: This will be a great day! Then, continue reminding yourself of your strengths. You’re a valuable person. You’re loveable. You have friends and family to appreciate. You’re strong. You’ll make it!
Design your own affirmations, which are specifically targeted at the negative thinking patterns. Make eye contact with yourself in the mirror and say those affirmations. Believe them!
Why are you unhappy? Is there something missing in your life? Have you discovered your purpose? If the answer is no, then you’re unhappy because you’ve turned into a robot. You go to work, see your partner, make dinner, and go to bed. You need to spice up your life. We’re not talking about traveling or getting a hobby this time. We’re talking about doing something meaningful. Something that makes you proud of who you are.
Find a cause you care for. It may involve helping people or animals. It may involve preserving nature. Whatever it is, try to do nice things for the world, and the positivity you share will return like a boomerang on you.
Meditate Every Day
When you want to change a habit (and negative thinking is a habit), there’s no other technique as powerful as meditation. You’ll sit in a comfortable position, and you’ll forget all about your body. You’ll focus on your mind. You’ll recognize the thoughts and emotions, and you’ll see where they are coming from. Then, you’ll deal with that source of anger. Meditation makes you calmer and more positive.
However, the journey towards a positive state of mind is not that easy. There are no shortcuts! As you continue practicing meditation, all your negativity will come to the surface. That’s a good thing. You need it on the surface so you can deal with it. However, you need a really good teacher to take you through the process and advise you on how to turn the negative outbursts around.
Involve More Positive People in Your Life
You like that bright person in the office who always laughs, tells jokes, and supports everyone. She seems like she has energy for everything. Invite her to lunch. Don’t suck on her positivity, though! Try to learn from that attitude and spread it around.
When you’re stuck with negative people in your life, they take you down through a spiral. They feed your negative thinking patterns. Of course, you should offer support! However, if you notice they are affecting you too much and you can’t do anything about them, it’s time to step away. See them from time to time, but make the meetings shorter and try to avoid the negative talk.
Involve more positive people in your life. Just remember: don’t take them down the negativity spiral!