People often think they have no control over the thoughts in their head, that they just happen. Well, I have some exciting news! There is a tested way to combat your negative thoughts and end the ruminative cycle. The solution is to shift the conversation in your head in a positive direction. In other words, the way to battle a negative thought is to flood it with positive ones.
Positive thinking does not mean that you ignore any negative things that come up; it simply means you redirect your focus to positive or productive aspects of a situation. It is about recognizing negative thoughts and challenging them with positive self-talk. Positive self-talk is being optimistic and encouraging toward yourself and your life situations. It is giving yourself the grace and understanding that you often give to others. This is the key to breaking the downward spiral of pessimism.
Here are some tips for how to start addressing negativity with positive thinking:
- Identify your ruminating negative thoughts
This is the first step in the process of becoming more positive. Identifying the discouraging and destructive things that you are telling yourself on a daily basis is necessary to change your patterns. Do you blame yourself when something bad happens? Do you ignore all of the positive things that happen in a situation and look only at the negative things? These are signs of negative thinking and areas where some positive thinking can intervene.
- Identify situations or people associated with negative emotions
If you can’t immediately pinpoint your negative thoughts, it may be easier to look at specific situations or interactions that cause you worry or other negative emotions, such as meetings with certain colleagues, going to the gym, or visiting your in-laws. You likely have negative thoughts that run through your head when going into these situations, so pay more attention to what is leading to those negative feelings.
- Check in
Throughout your day, I want you to intermittently stop what you are doing and examine the content of your thoughts. Do they have a negative spin to them? Then think about how you are feeling. Are your feelings at all related to what you are thinking? Checking in can be a powerful tool in managing your thoughts before they get the best of you or control your mood and actions.
- Rehearse positive self-talk
Once you recognize that your thoughts are negative or heading in a negative direction, respond with a positive thought or affirmation. Try to place a positive spin on any thought that seems negative, or think of a way you can be productive. If this does not seem to work, go with positive affirmations! Positive affirmations are statements that describe a desired situation or goal. When repeated regularly, they can lighten your mood and produce euphoric feelings. Try using affirmations after you check in and identify negative thoughts or emotions. You can even try repeating them at the start of your day to get in the right mindset!
Here are some of my favorite affirmations to get you started:
- I am at peace.
- My thoughts are under my control.
- I am surrounded by love.
- I radiate love and happiness.
- I am healthy and happy.
- The more grateful I am, the more reasons I find to be grateful.
- When I believe in myself, so do others.
- I am my own unique self—original, inspired, and amazing.
- I trust in the process of life.
- I choose love, joy, and freedom.
- My heart is open and allows wonderful things to flow into my life.
Applying these steps will help you learn to break the pattern of negative thoughts and consequently, negative emotions and behaviors. You will likely start seeing more positive results in how you feel about