As long as you are human, it’s easy to fall prey to negative thinking but that doesn’t mean you have to wallow in it. Negative thinking is automatic and doesn’t require much energy for your mind to venture into it. As such, it is quite easy to get negative thoughts in every situation you find yourself and this can be triggered by a mere feeling or a comment someone dropped. Consequently, you might feel like something is dragging you down, you feel worried, look down on yourself, or even give up.
Negativity can befall anyone but the difference is in how you handle it. That personal rain cloud you are carrying around can destroy you from the inside, holding you back from achieving the best you can be but there are ways you can help yourself out of the situation. But, before you fight those demons, you need to get the hang of the true meaning of negative thoughts and emotions and what can cause them.
What Are Negative Thoughts and Emotions?
Negative thoughts are those feelings that make your challenges more complex than they originally appear. When you are deep in negative thinking, you may find it difficult to process information or think clearly, leading to emotional stress and distractions. This is why changing your negativity is important if you want to move forward in life.
In a nutshell, negative thoughts involve a process that takes people through the worst-case scenarios. You know you have ventured into negative thoughts when you find something wrong or bad with everything, reducing your expectations at any slightest opportunity. These negative thoughts usually start as a response to unpleasant occurrences we meet in life, especially disappointments, anxiety, helplessness, and uncertainty about a certain situation.
What Causes Negative Thinking?
Even though it can happen to anyone and at any point in time, a lot of factors can cause us to have negative thoughts and we gathered a few to enlighten you.
A lot of people carry negative vibes from childhood into adulthood and this adversely affects their emotional and psychological wellbeing. Childhood traumas can leave a long-lasting scar on you and cause negative thoughts to haunt you, even when you have grown into an adult.
You are always anxious about the present and the future
Worrying about things that are yet to happen doesn’t change anything most of the time. When you often think about what the future holds, your mind might be filled with fear of the unknown which will lead to negative thinking and this can drag your success.
Overanalyzing situations and circumstances
When you obsess about certain decisions you have to make on a regular basis, negative thoughts might surface. It’s okay to analyze situations before making decisions but don’t dwell on them as this will hardly change the outcome of things. It is equally important to recognize the fact that you are overanalyzing a situation, this will help you fight the negativity.
You are ashamed of past mistakes
Some failures and mistakes you encountered in the past can be the reason your mind is filled with negative thoughts. Perhaps you did some things you are not proud of and the memories are telling you that everything will go wrong anytime you try such tasks.
Influence of negative people
Everyone has encountered negative vibes from people around them and this experience tends to rub off on them. The fact that someone treated you badly might corrupt your mind into thinking other people like him/her would do the same. Again, certain people are experts in seeing something wrong about everything you do, having such people around breeds negative thoughts.
Can Negative Thinking Be Changed?
The simple answer is yes but it is indeed no walk in the park and cannot be achieved overnight. While trying to fight negative thoughts, remember that they are absolutely normal and can happen to anyone at any point in time. Having occasional bad thoughts and feelings about certain situations is part of life but beyond all that, those negative thoughts can be changed.
Give yourself a break from negativity by taking a few seconds to just breathe, occupy your brain with happy moments, and by applying the steps listed below, you stand a good chance of changing those bad thoughts to positive thoughts.
Actionable Steps to Converting Negativity to Positivity
We often ignore the negative thoughts weighing us down and this leads to a lack of emotional hygiene. Don’t get it twisted, fighting negative thoughts does not mean you have to entirely disregard the unpleasant situations you meet in life, instead, it entails approaching your demons from a more positive angle. You can purge that negativity from your mind by applying these steps.
1. There’s a good part of every situation, find it
Whenever you find yourself in a negative situation where all hope seems lost, take a moment to breathe, analyze the matter once again and restrategize. Don’t see every setback as a dead end but as much as possible, look on the bright side. You can start by listing the lessons you can learn from the situation, as well as the thing you could have done differently to achieve a different result.
Again, it’s okay to seek help from reliable friends when you are in a difficult spot in your life. Asking for help and talking about the challenges you are facing helps to open your eyes to the positive side of that negative circumstance.
2. Keep a company of positive people
Don’t forget to surround yourself with positive people, not the pessimists who will always see something wrong with everything. While positive people are likely to be supportive, encouraging you with words of encouragement, negative people will only mount unnecessary pressure on you and take your stress level to a whole new range.
Not that you need to cut ties with friends who are facing difficulties but if you think the relationship is unhealthy, distance yourself and move on. Don’t spend too much time with friends who are always talking about the problems life keeps throwing at them instead of envisaging a bright future and counting the milestones they have recorded so far.
3. Stay away from negative media
In the same way that negative people sabotage your happiness, negative media is also unhealthy for your overall wellbeing. If you keep consuming positive media on a daily basis, it becomes part of your, thereby making it easier to imbibe. With this, you will have a new mindset to tackle bad thoughts and unpleasant situations.
4. Face your thoughts squarely but don’t give in to them
The mind has a way of playing tricks on us but we need to establish who the boss is each time the battle starts. Every once in a while, bad thoughts find a way to torment you and that’s absolutely normal. It is important that you don’t try to ignore these thoughts entirely as that will not help the situation. Instead, challenge and scrutinize the thoughts with facts that tend to counter the beliefs.
For instance, instead of condemning another human being as terrible, consider the fact that you are the one criticizing them for no good reason. However, be careful while challenging your thoughts to avoid giving in to negative ideas about yourself.
5. Tap into the benefits of yoga and regular exercise
Take part in a sport that gives you joy and if possible do it with other people who are also enthusiastic about exercise. Physical activity, even though you need much motivation to engage in it, can help uplift your spirit and purge negative thoughts from your life.
The emotional rewards that are inherent in yoga cannot be overemphasized as well. Beyond increasing your flexibility and giving your muscles the right tone, yoga improves your overall physical and emotional health. All in all, exercise, including yoga, increases self-motivation and helps get rid of negative energy. In fact, there are many yoga positions that target your emotions.
6. Don’t always play the victim to hide from situations
Everyone encounters challenges at different points in life but what matters is the way they handle them. Don’t come across as someone who is stuck in a situation and expect people to come to the rescue. You are not doing yourself a favor by doing this. There is hardly any situation that doesn’t have a way out, you just have to reprogram your mind and find it. In other words, instead of playing the victim, decide to bring about positive changes in the situation at hand.
7. Be nice to someone
Making someone’s life better or easier uplifts your spirit and this is something everyone should engage in every once in a while. You can volunteer to help with charitable causes, or just do something nice for someone and you will feel better afterward. Additionally, the time you invested in contributing to a good cause keeps your mind occupied with positive vibes.
Overall, even if you think they don’t deserve it, helping someone often translates to helping yourself emotionally. This is why it’s good to carry out such gestures without expecting anything in return.
8. Count your blessings and meditate
Make a list of things you are grateful for and name them one by one. Appreciating your achievements will make you see cherish the journey so far. However, be guided in listing these achievements because they don’t need to be huge to matter. Your blessings can be as trivial as getting a new dog, completing a task at home, or getting better after a brief illness. Notwithstanding what they are, appreciate every milestone in your life and you will be left with no other choice than to acknowledge the good things in your life.
Meditation helps you reflect on your life and you can choose to focus on the positive things. While counting your blessings, think about the things you have accomplished instead of the things you were not able to do.
9. Engage yourself in positive self-talk
It’s okay to talk to yourself sometimes but be sure to focus on the good stuff. When you engage in positive self-dialogue, your perception of the world will change. Encourage yourself even when everyone around you is saying negative things. Instead of saying you have never tried something before which means you won’t succeed if you do, remind yourself that it can just be an opportunity to learn new things.
Always think about the things you are grateful for and all the things you have been able to achieve despite the challenges that made them seem impossible. That way, your outlook will begin to veer towards positivity.
10. Counter those negative thoughts with positive ideas
When negative thoughts invade your mind which will definitely happen every now and then, don’t ignore them entirely. Instead, tackle the bad thoughts by bringing up positive ideas to counter them. By doing this, you will give your mind a breathing space from all the negativity and also fill your thoughts with positive ideas.
Instead of allowing your mind to be trapped in that loop of negative thinking where you cloud your thoughts with a lot of “what ifs”, visualize every possible positive outcome and avoid the doubting voices in your head.
11. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Eat well, avoid alcohol and hard drugs, smile, embrace humor, take long walks, sing and dance (even when you suck at it), anything but wallow in past mistakes. Make it a habit to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day as this improves your mood and reduces stress levels.
You can practice the act of standing in front of the mirror and admiring yourself while smiling.
12. Don’t forget that nobody is perfect, including you
Allow yourself to move on from bad experiences because holding on to them will only worsen your situation. Granted, it’s easy to get lost in past mistakes but while you are at it, keep in mind that staying in the past doesn’t help your future. Oftentimes, people waste a whole week because they were beating themselves up for a mistake they made. In the end, you realize how much time you lost punishing yourself with negativity when you could have just let things go and moved on.
Don’t forget to be kind to yourself and be thankful for what you have. Also, nobody said it’s going to easy switching from negativity to positivity, you can’t achieve this overnight. So, give yourself time and practice the steps to take you on the right path to positive thinking.