Negativity can only feed on negativity.
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Each of us has our bouts of negativity when we experience fear, despair, self-doubt, confusion and even jealousy.
Negativity or Negative thought patterns are like unwanted guests in our minds. These thoughts creep in and leave us emotionally drained.
It’s really easy to fall in negativity trap especially in these times when trolls rule social media, stress in our personal life spills onto our work; oh did I mention about a jealous co-worker and a nagging self-doubt? Ah! Not to forget the house loan!
See one life too many problems gives a perfect excuse to fall into a whirlpool of negativity sucking out all optimism.
Here’s how negativity affects you
- Hampers your mental peace
- Affects your confidence
- Doesn’t allow you to face reality
- Doesn’t allow you to realize your potential
- Constant dwelling on negative thoughts can lead to serious mental health issues like chronic depression.
But we owe it to ourselves to at least try and deal with our negative thoughts and take our chance towards hope and postivity.
Try this simple exercise
Make a list: Lists why lists? You might wonder after all this is not a “10 things to do in the morning” type of post, I hear you.
But to deal with your negative emotions better, it would be helpful if you lay bare all doubts and confusion in your mind.
Make a list of all those negative thoughts and emotions.
Be as descriptive as possible and write your heart out on a blank page.
Analyze: Go through all your negative thoughts and emotions.
There would be some thoughts related to low self-esteem, a lingering dread of something going wrong or negative feelings for someone.
Now think why these thoughts emerged in the first place.
If you have recurring negative thought pattern it is likely it’s been embedded in your mind early on.
Ask yourself – What caused these thoughts?
- Is it related to an event in the past?
- A current situation you are facing?
- Is there someone who makes you feel negative?
Secondly analyze your feelings during these bouts of negativity
Are you scared, nervous, sad or irritated?
Thirdly, observe the thoughts running on your mind.
- I can’t do this.
- This will go horribly wrong.
- I have no one to talk to.
- Everyone is selfish.
Take concrete action: Depending on your situation, try to look at things from a different perspective.
Like when you say “I can’t do it” ask yourself why can’t you?
Like for example you have to speak at an office meet and you are really nervous. Ask yourself what is causing this nervousness:
- Are you generally scared of public speaking?
- Are you scared what your colleagues may think if you screw up?
- Your boss is really counting on you and you are scared of letting him down?
Replace negative thoughts: For each of negative thought there is equally powerful positive counter.
First and foremost believe in yourself.
Secondly, tell yourself, “These are just hindrances and none of these will come true.”
- So if you are scared before speaking at an office meet tell yourself I have prepared to the best of my ability and I shall not fail.
- If you are scared of what others think tell I am confident and positive and I am speaking to impress me.
- If you are scared of letting someone down tell yourself I will be extremely proud of myself when this is over.
So as per your circumstance counter your negative thoughts with a positive one.
Countering negative thoughts in Daily Life
Develop a routine: The good thing about routine is it keeps your mind occupied.
Try to develop a morning and night routine where you have limited time for distractions and negativity.
Create some goals: Create some small attainable goals for yourself, like saving 10% of your salary each month, reading 1 book each month, travelling in December every year etc.
Creating personal targets helps you to redirect your energy towards that end goal.
Also if you notice I have mentioned very specific goals. When you say “I am going to save more,” your intention is right but wording is vague.
But when you set specific goals like “I will save 10% of my salary each month for a year,” you are setting a very specific goal for yourself.
This helps your brain to spring into action.
So as a part of self-improvement to counter negative thoughts set some small personal goals.
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Manage expectations: This one is perhaps easier said than done. As humans we all have our level of expectation.
When things don’t go as expected or when someone falls short of our expectations we feel disappointed.
But understand you cannot control everyone or every situation.
There will be someone who will have a different point of view.
Instead of being negative or overtly critical you have to realise there will be times when things will not go as planned.
Less Complain: No one like a Negative Nancy.If you constantly find faults with others or constantly go on whining about things or situations it will naturally make you a bitter person and increase negative energy in your life.
Stop comparing: It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap where you might feel someone has a blessed life compared to yours.
But what we don’t realize is that person may have his own struggles. His life may not seem as rosy and perfect as it is.
Journaling: Sometime we are just stressed and tired.
Our stress levels may set in a monotony and increase chances of negativity in our lives.
Journaling is a good way of monitoring your stress levels.
Try to maintain a daily diary or thought journal of sorts to keep a record of what’s going on in your mind.
As mentioned in the exercise above, try to write a positive thought for every negative one.
Remove toxic people: Remove every person and relationship that is toxic to your mental health.
This could be anyone a friend, a relationship you are in, your relatives. Ha! Easier said than done right?
But people who manipulate you emotionally either through blackmail, passive aggression or guilt-ripping are not doing you any favours.
You must assess their position in your life or if you want them at all.
Whoever affects your self-esteem is not worth being in your life. If it’s not possible to remove them entirely choose to avoid them.
Value and surround yourself with people who are your biggest cheerleaders.
Saying no: Learn to say ‘no’ to people who take advantage at every given opportunity.
This could be a friend who never returns things she borrows. An office colleague who expects you to do his share of work.
A relative who is a penny pincher and expects you to pay everytime during a nightout.
Learn to say ‘no’ to such people. If you constantly try to please everyone despite knowing they are taking your advantage then trust me it will only increase your anger and frustration.
Understand you cannot make everyone happy all the time. Put some healthy boundaries and you will be happier.
Stop believing the Instagram Life: You know social media can be a double-edged sword.
It is an amazing tool of information and entertainment but it fuels discontentment as well.
You may crave for a life your favourite influencer or youtuber has, just because you came across some pretty images on Instagram.
Are you familiar with the term curated reality?
Most of the perfect images you come across in social media are curated or meticulously planned to give you an illusion about the perfect life.
But reality is no one has the perfect life and we each have things we have to deal with.
So instead of being dissatisfied with your life try to limit your time spent in social media and don’t believe in everything you see.
Self-care, Affirmations and Gratitude: I recently discovered the power of self-care, affirmations and gratitude.
Caring about your mental health is as important as your physical one. Self-care is engaging in all things that make you happy.
Affirmations are powerful positive reinforcement to help you glide through any negativity.
When you practise gratitude you focus shifts to all the good things in life. You are thankful for those things and tend to complain less.
Turn negative energy into Motivation
Whenever you are overwhelmed by self-doubt, anger, jealousy and bitterness turn that energy into something positive, let it motivate you to improve yourself.
When your mind says, “you are not good enough” tell yourself “I am the best.”
If you feel jealous of someone, let that person inspire you. Take that as an opportunity to be better.
Can you eliminate negative thoughts completely?
Ideally it would be great to live in a world free of all negativity but it’s not an ideal world and we will be affected by negativity at one point or another.
Most of that negativity stems from our desire to have better lives.
I understand you can’t be brimming with positivity 24/7 but constant dwelling on negative thoughts obstructs you from enjoying happy moments.
We are all affected by negativity because we are humans but don’t let these thoughts linger.
The trick here is to know how much you are letting negative thoughts affect your peace of mind.
If you are someone who is affected by negativity easily I would really urge you to use some of these tips.
If you believe life is too precious to be bitter and negative please leave your thoughts below. Besides if you have more tips on countering negativity please share with me. I could use a tip or two.
Always happy to know your thoughts!