Breaking the negative thought cycle
We all have times in our lives that we get caught up in negative thought patterns. We tend to cultivate these patterns at times in our lives when things are not going our way, maybe in times of sadness or tragedy. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have difficulty seeing the bright side and I know that I’m not alone in my struggle. As humans, we have what’s called a negativity bias- which means that we are hard wired to remember negative events and feel them more intensely than positive ones. We could have many positive moments, but throw one negative one in the mix, and that’s the one we remember and fixate on.
There are things that I practice everyday to help me break my focus on the negative and I thought I’d share them with you. These are not instant solutions and it takes time/ practice to undo thought patterns, so please have compassion with yourself as you challenge pessimism.
Identify thought patterns– We cannot change what we don’t acknowledge. Sometimes our thoughts are running on auto-pilot in the background. A good way that we can examine our perspective and the lens in which we view the world is by journaling. We can clearly see of any negative patterns of focus if we write our thoughts down.
Our minds are hardwired to focus on things that are familiar. That means if you tend to focus on the negative then the negative will easily reveal itself in every situation. We have to make the positive seem familiar. I try to write down 3 positive words for the day- and see how the day can reveal them
Keep a reminder of all the positive things that have happened. I have a gratitude jar in which I place all the things that I’m thankful for. It forces my conscious mind to focus on the good in my life.
There will be difficult days and hard situations. We cannot get around that, but even in the midst of difficulty we can examine our perspective by asking ourselves a couple questions.
a. How could this scenario turn out better then I expect?
b. Are there any positive lessons that could be learned and applied in the future?
c. Why are the positive aspects important?
Become aware of our internal mindset, and take ownership of what can be changed. Do you think that nothing you do matters? Or do you think you’re the cause of every negative event in your life? Or worse that you deserve every bad thing that has ever happened in your life. These thoughts allow us to internalize shame. To shift this thinking, recognize that there are things that we have control over and things in life that we do not have control over. We change what we can and accept the rest as gracefully as we can.
Do Positive things- do things that bring you joy and happiness. Spend more time with friends and get out of the house more, walks are good for the soul. That’s my professional opinion.
Let’s make 2021 a more positive year. It begins and ends with us. Let’s do this thing!