Negative thoughts get us down, plain and simple. But we all do it, to varying degrees we all have our habits of thinking badly about situations, about other ourselves and other people, and about life in general. And even though we know it doesn’t help, even though we know all too well that it just creates even more negativity in our life, somehow we find ourselves stuck in habitual negative thinking patterns over and over again.
Negative thinking is like wearing dark and dirty glasses; it fogs your vision and gives you a distorted picture of reality. When you are stuck in negative thinking it’s difficult to find any joy in life because your whole mindset has you convinced that happiness and joy are not even an option.
Negative thoughts create a wall between you and other people, because despite how open and kind they may be towards you, somehow you don’t trust them, you won’t allow yourself to open to them because you think their kindness is not real, and you know that in any case it won’t last for long.
A particularly harmful form of negative thinking is sometimes referred to as ‘negative negativity’. This is when you see your negative thinking patterns clearly, you become aware of them and how harmful they are, but that awareness in itself causes you to think badly about yourself, you get caught up in guilt which just becomes a source of further negativity.
Yes, it sounds grim, and it is. Yet we are not so far off as we may think. Negative thinking patterns are learned, and in the same way that we learned how to think badly about things, we can learn to think in more positive light. We can learn to see our negativity clearly, without giving ourself a hard time about it, and then we can learn to change our thinking habits, gradually lightening up the heavy burden.
Here are 5 Great Ways to Overcome Negative Thinking:
1. Use Breathing to Interrupt Negative Thinking Patterns.
Throughout your day, frequently pause whatever you are doing and simply be there and breathe. Sit there and feel your body and breath, notice the space around you, and ground yourself in the ordinary goodness of your world. Doing this often can help you to get in touch with your body and also the greater body of the physical world around you. There is tremendous richness and goodness to be found in the body, and it help you let go of and purify negative thinking.
2. Keep a ‘Negative Thinking Journal’.
Take a notebook with you during your day, and whenever you find yourself stuck in a negative thinking pattern, stop and make a note of it. Note what you are thinking, the cause of it, and also how you feel in your body. Then after two or three weeks, or however long it takes to accumulate significant data, sit down for an hour or so to explore what you have in your journal.
Look for common themes, recurring situations where you are often caught in negative thoughts. Make a note of what you learn, and then with your newfound awareness you can gradually change those patterns.
3. Do Things That You Enjoy.
Make time during your busy work week to enjoy activities that you know make you happy and feel good. We all want to be happy but we often forget to actually do it, to do the things that we know make us feel good.
Maybe you like going for long walks around the park or in your city, perhaps you enjoy going out for dinner and a film with a friend or by yourself, some people enjoy a relaxing massage, and for others exercise is the perfect pick me up. Whatever it is, slow down the busy pace and give yourself the pleasure that we all deserve.
4. Make It a Habit to Appreciate the Goodness in Your Life.
Learn to see how fortunate you are, how your life is a gift, and that no matter how difficult things may sometimes become, it is possible to raise your gaze up and see magic all around you. Notice things as simple as the feeling of the breeze on your skin, or the delicate intricacies of a leaf, or how amazing another person’s face it. By becoming attuned with the goodness of life and the world you develop an appreciative heart, and negativity simply dissolves into space.
5. Do Kind Things for Others.
Kindness is the greatest medicine available to ease our aching hearts and minds. Making another person happy is the best way to make ourself happy. Generosity in unsurpassed in its ability to put an end to negativity.
Sometimes we are so caught up in a negative mind set and our negative thinking patterns that we can’t bear to be kind in a person to person manner. In this case you can do kind things in secret. For example leave the best parking spot for someone else, or go the extra mile in cleaning up in the office lunch room even though nobody else will know it was you who did it.
Being kind in this quiet manner is a great way to practice kindness when it’s too much to be kind in person. Either way, being kind will help you cheer up, feel better deep inside, and confront negative thinking patterns at the very source.
Craig Mollins promotes a mindfulness approach to anger management at: http://MindfulnessAngerManagement.com.