Sometimes it seems like the world is wired for negativity. Just turn on the TV! The news doesn’t have time show you all the good things in the world; their ratings are based on making people fearful or worried. And we all tend to remember the negative things that happened to us in extreme detail rather than the hundreds of good things that have also happened.
We don’t live in a perfect world. It’s easy to fall into a negativity rut.
And it’s also pretty easy to let all of that energy become a big part of us.
But chronic negativity is poisonous. And addictive. And those negative thoughts can actually result in crippling anxiety or manifest themselves as actual health issues over time.
So we need to learn how to manage it.
It’s important to manage your negativity no matter who you are (just to minimize stress!) but this is an especially critical step if you’re on a path to manifesting a better life.
Like attracts like, after all!
But since our bodies and minds work together, it’s important to start dealing with the root of the problem: the thoughts and emotions inside us.
Our brains are lazy; they just looooove to keep revisiting the same thoughts over and over again. That’s why stopping a negative thought pattern is so challenging! The more time you’ve already spent in negativity, the harder you’ll have to work to shift things.
Everyone experiences negativity sometimes! That’s why it’s important to recognize it when you encounter it and have a solid plan for dealing with it.
So today I’m offering up ten suggestions the help you manage negativity.
How To Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts
Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts Step #1:
Most people treat complaining as a fact of life, not an activity we can opt out of. We live in a complaining culture! (Just hop on social media for some evidence.)
It’s okay to get upset abut things. It’s okay to acknowledge when things don’t go our way. But complaining can easily get out of hand. It can become habitual, especially when we spend our time with other people who love to complain.
That’s why it’s important understand that dwelling on the negativity in life doesn’t actually accomplish anything! Complaining takes a lot of energy away from you, but not towards something positive. In fact, the more you complain, the more your problems can seem to grow.
So when you notice that you’re doing it, it’s time to take a step back and stop. It’s probably going to take some time (or perhaps even a whole new routine!) but minimizing your complaints is well-worth the effort.
Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts Step #2:
The blame game is another mental trap that’s all too easy to get sucked into. It’s very easy to place blame for the things in life that we don’t like on external events or people. But when we do that, we fail to take responsibility for the actions and choices that brought us to that situation. Blaming might be tempting because it shifts the responsibility away from us. But it also gives away our power and puts us in helpless little victim mode
Instead of assigning blame, look for the lesson. What could you have done differently to lessen or minimize the situation? Life is often messy and full of bumps. But while owning up to your own behavior, learning from it and moving on is healthy, blaming others will only keep you stuck in a negative space.
Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts Step #3:
Criticism walks hand in hand with judgement and complaining. Verbally criticizing those around you creates unnecessary tension or even conflict. Not to mention, criticism is poison to an intimate relationship. But if you’re a perfectionist by nature, it’s all too easy to become fixated on someone’s supposed flaws.
Not to say that you need to remain mum if something upsetting happens. Setting boundaries is important. If you do have a legitimate complaint about a certain situation, learn speak from your heart instead of leading with absolute statements like “you always…” or “you never”. Critical statements create fear and anger and automatically make people go on the defensive.
Besides, it’s difficult to be critical only of other people. If you’re constantly criticizing how those around you behave, you’re likely to be doing the same to yourself. It’s difficult to go through life constantly judging yourself so harshly! But fixing the pattern will take some work. Go slowly and you’ll eventually learn to replace the criticisms with thoughts that are positive, not aggressive.
Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts Step #4:
Choose A Happier Thought
Even though it doesn’t feel like it, we have always have control over our thought processes. When you notice that you’re falling into what I call the “downward negativity spiral”, it’s time to pull yourself out of it. Pay attention to how your thoughts feel inside you. If they’re causing you pain or discomfort, it’s time to take action.
There’s always a more positive thought you can hold onto instead of a negative one. It’s all a matter of attitude. Even negative external events (like extra traffic or a delayed flight) can be reframed into positive opportunities. Maybe you suddenly have some extra time to call a friend or the opportunity to take a new path to the office. Treat life like an adventure, not a series of hardships.
Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts Step #5:
Adjust Your Body Language
I recently read the amazing book Presence by TED talk star Amy Cuddy. It’s all about how your physical posture actually can actually have an effect on your mental state and emotions (for better or worse).
Learning to have better posture is an ongoing practice but you can start by simply tuning in to where your body is right now. Are you hunched over? Are your arms crossed? These are postures that makes us smaller and that also ultimately makes us less confident in our actions. Try spreading yourself out. Take some deep stretches. Try to occupy your space and your body fully. You can even do the Superman pose! (It’s okay to wait till you’re alone in the bathroom for that one!)
Your body creates a feedback loop with your brain and taking a more confident stance is an easy way to hack yourself to feeling happier.
Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts Step #6:
Notice Negative Thought Patterns
Extreme thoughts are rarely ever true…and rarely make us good! Thoughts like “just my luck”, “this always happens to me” or “that can’t ever be mine” are very black and white.
But life is not so black and white! It’s normal to have both ups and downs in life; focusing only on the negative things tends to make you forget about all the positive exceptions to the rule.
A great place to narrow in on this concept even more is through the work of Byron Katie. Katie created The Work as a mental framework to help manage stressful or difficult times.
It’s a simple four-step process:
Step 1: Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
Step 2: Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
Step 3: How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Step 4: Who would you be without the thought?
The Work helps you see the world without the lens of heavy emotion that we needlessly apply. So often we make issues out to mean a whole lot about us, when in reality they typically have very little to actually do with us! So the next time you notice yourself spinning into a negative thought process, try using The Tools to reframe it as something less emotional and more realistic.
Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts Step #7:
Throw Negative Thoughts Away
Sometimes negative thoughts need a little extra kick in the pants before they leave the premises. So let’s get rid of them! If you’re being plagued by one specific negative thought, try writing it down and throwing it away. Or write it down and then burn the paper. (Always over the sink or somewhere else fireproof, obviously!)
If that all seems too extreme, do a visualization. Imagine the thought as a physical thing (like a little black cloud!) and picture it floating far far away from you. The point of this exercise is simply to put some physical distance between yourself from your thought so get creative and figure out a method that works for you.
Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts Step #8:
Worry is just a negative meditation. When you worry, you’re actively visualizing the worst possible outcome of a situation. That requires putting real energy into that scenario. (Thoughts are things!)
Of course, being realistic and prepared for real life requires a little thinking about Plan B. But indulging yourself in hours and hours of worrying doesn’t actually do anything about the problem itself. Try to identify actual actionable steps you can take instead of catastrophizing.
Stopping the worry game won’t happen overnight. But the important thing is to simply minimize your worry. Start by giving yourself a deadline: I’ll spend twenty minutes today worrying about X, then I’ll move onto something else. Learning to manage the energy you put into worrying will make you a much happier (and more empowered) person overall.
Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts Step #9:
It’s extra easy to fall into negative patterns when our own energy is low or we haven’t been taking the time to care for ourself. If you’re stressed, exhausted or burnt out, it’s necessary to carve out a little extra time for you. Try booking a massage, taking a Yin yoga class, drawing an Epsom salts bath or just talking a walk in nature. Self-care looks different for everyone but there will always be some care method that can fit into your busy schedule. Make yourself a priority! Your health and mental well-being is well-worth it. And when you own energy is happy and strong it’s a lot more difficult to become dragged down by little bumps in the road.
Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts Step #10:
Don’t Give Them Control
It’s normal to have anxiety or fear, especially about new situations in life. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid new situations or things that make you nervous! You can still perform those new experiences, even when you’re totally freaking out on the inside. (Not to mention most of the time, the world won’t even notice! Trust.)
So don’t let your mental state become a crutch for not living life the way you really want to! Fear is a normal part of life and it doesn’t magically disappear after we’ve hit a few major life goals. It’s something you’ll have to confront again and again over the years so learn to embrace it! While it’s totally okay to be scared, it’s definitely not okay to avoid life because of your fear.
Remember, happiness is all about perspective. We ultimately get to decide how we want to feel, no matter what our current situation might. An example I like use is celebrities. Since we live in such a celebrity-focused culture, I’m sure you can think of at least a handful of famous people that seem deeply unhappy. I don’t want to take pleasure in someone else’s pain but it’s just a good reminder that money and fame do not solve all problems. Happiness is a choice no matter where you are in life and banishing negative thoughts is an important part of that choice.
I hope these lessons help to bring your mind to a healthier and happier place. Please share this article if you found it useful & I’ll see you back here next week!