Your life begins in your mind. Your thoughts shape your actions, your habits, and your feelings about the world around you–and over time, those thoughts can transform your entire life.
Are you getting bogged down by negative thoughts?
Does the weight of those thoughts feel as though it could completely crush you at any moment?
With these strategies, you can get rid of bad thoughts and learn to stay present in the moment, which in turn means that you’ll be able to enjoy your current situation and appreciate the good in it.
1. Write Down the Negative
Do negative thoughts float through your head all day? Instead of dwelling on them, rehearsing them over and over in your head, take a moment to write them down. Then, correct them with something positive. If you’re hit with a negative string of, “I’m such a klutz. I can’t believe I did that!” after you knock over a bowl of popcorn sitting on the couch or knock a drink off the edge of the table, replace it with, “Man, I’m graceful today. I’m glad every day isn’t like this!” If you find yourself spiraling downward with claims that you’re inadequate or that you’ve failed, replace them with all the ways you’ve accomplished amazing things. Over time, this will start to change your thought patterns–and it will certainly transform your attitude.
As you write down your negative thoughts, also take the time to note what’s going on in your mind and body at the time when they hit. Are you hungry? Over-tired? Did you skip working out that day, or spend too much time inside? When you first start writing them down, just take note of any factors you think might be influencing that negativity.
2. Don’t Beat Yourself Up for Negativity
Yes, you need to work on being more positive. Yes, your negative thoughts are dragging you down. If you dwell on that negativity, however, you may start beating yourself up for letting it happen! Instead, make a conscious effort to replace the negative with something positive–and reward or congratulate yourself for accomplishing it. You don’t need to beat yourself up every time you make a mistake. In fact, it’s often counterproductive. Instead, congratulate yourself when you get it right!
3. Identify Your Negativity Triggers
Some people end up trapped in a dark spiral where it seems as though everything causes a negative reaction. Typically, however, you’ll find that something triggers that negativity and starts you down that path. What is it that triggers your negativity? Take note of situational triggers as well as environmental triggers. For example:
- Do you notice that you’re more likely to feel negative when you start to get hungry? (Many people do–you’re not alone!) Sometimes, it’s as simple as raising your blood sugar to kick those negative thoughts out the window.
- Are you more often negative when you spend more time with a certain person? Are they saying or doing something to bring you down, or are you allowing envy to make you negative when you’re around them?
- Does negativity start to rise when you drink alcohol–or the next day, even when you aren’t currently drunk?
- Is job stress causing more negativity than expected in your life? What about stress at home?
- Do you start to feel more stressed when you spend too much indoors, staring at a screen?
- Does exercise impact your mood positively, leading to fewer negative thoughts?
It’s not always possible to remove the triggers that cause your negativity. Even the best-managed schedule may not allow you to exercise every day, and you might not be able to quit your job on the spot. If you can identify your negative triggers, however, you can start to remove them from your life. Snack throughout the day to keep your blood sugar from getting too low. Avoid alcohol, if you know it’s going to cause problems. If you start to feel as though work is sucking you down into a black hole, start looking for a new job. You aren’t trapped where you are–and dealing with those triggers for negativity can help you avoid negative thoughts and learn to enjoy the present moment.
4. Focus on Positive Thoughts
If you’re constantly thinking about your negative thoughts, you’re going to be more likely to bring them forward simply because you’re dwelling on them. Instead of thinking about avoiding negative thoughts, try focusing on positive ones! Every morning, write down three things you’re grateful for (preferably three new things each day). Count your blessings before you go to bed at night. You can also try some of these strategies when you feel your negative inner voice starting to get away from you:
- Take a moment to think about the things you love most about where you are or what you’re doing. If you’re at work and feeling stress mount, for example, you might choose to focus on the things you appreciate about your job: a certain great coworker, for example, or a paycheck and health insurance that help you protect your family.
- Ask someone else to tell you what they appreciate most about you. You may be surprised by how other people see you–and how their view of you can transform the way you think about yourself.
- Take pictures of the things you love and look at them when you need them. Flip through your phone and look at pictures of your kids, pictures of your pet, or pictures of your home. Get in the habit of taking pictures of little things that make you happy.
- People watch, and look for the good in people. It may surprise you just how intrinsically good people are and how much they’re willing to do for one another when they think no one is looking. Watch for the old couple still holding hands, the woman cuddling her new baby, the husband who stops to hold the door open for his wife, and celebrate the good in humanity.
Learning to transform your thoughts to get rid of bad thoughts is an ongoing challenge, but it’s one that is well worth it. As you start to replace those negative thoughts, you’ll find that you’re in a better position to take on the world–and your life just might start looking brighter as a result