Everyone is human. With that comes awkwardness, bad days and misunderstandings. Our brains have this terrible habit of telling us that things are worse than they really are. They can sometimes even have us replay out our worst memories, our awkward interactions with others, or even team up with our imagination to create scenarios that aren’t even true.
But what also applies to our humanness, is being able to challenge our thoughts by raising awareness to positivity. You may be wondering how to do that; especially if you’re prone to feeling the effects of negative thoughts. There is an exercise you can do that doesn’t take long, doesn’t require any tools and can be done at any time.
Step 1: Acknowledge the negative thought for being a negative thought.
Step 2: Ask yourself if that negative thought has actual hard truth behind it. More often than not, we are being hard on ourselves or have taken to heart the negative projections others have placed on us. Two instances that actually don’t bring any value and can therefore be challenged and forgotten about.
Step 3: Ask yourself when there has been a time when you can remember a positive thought that can challenge your negative thinking.
For example, let’s say you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you think to yourself, “I look fat. I shouldn’t have eaten that donut earlier.” You may have heard someone else say you were fat, or heard someone else say they didn’t want to eat a donut because they are trying to lose weight. Those are other people’s narratives, not yours. The only narrative that matters in this scenario is your own. You can then think about how at the time of eating the donut, you were happy. Maybe you haven’t had a donut in a few months. Rest assured that one donut won’t make you fat. Just as one carrot won’t make you thin. But you can challenge the negative thoughts by reminding yourself that your brain will sometimes lie to you by over processing what you’re exposed to. In that example, it was the voices of others.
Shift Your Mindset Every Day
Fortunately, there are practices you can incorporate into your day that help you reframe your mindset so that you can train your brain to become more positive overall. When that happens, your brain begins to see negative thoughts for what they truly are and has an easier time processing. Some of those daily practices include mindfulness and shifting into a positive mindset.
Start Your Day With Gratitude
Before the day gets ahead of you, one of the quickest and most effective ways to bring a more positive mindset is to think on or journal three things you’re grateful for. Showing gratitude costs nothing but brings you great rewards. It shifts your thinking away from negative comparisons and brings the focus back to your own life.
Give Yourself Positive Affirmations
When you arm yourself with tools such as positive affirmations, you become mentally stronger to fight against the negative thoughts. It will probably feel silly at first but, look yourself in the mirror and say something nice about yourself as if you were saying it to a friend. If you were your own friend, you probably wouldn’t let negative comments pop up. Instead you would comfort, hype up, or be kinder.
Focus On Small Wins
Every day comes with challenges and obstacles. Because of that, it can be easy to get frustrated and turn those challenges into a negative day. Stuck in traffic when you’re already running late? There isn’t anything you can do to get out of it, so take it as a moment to just breathe and listen to your favorite songs or podcast. Day not going your way? See if that challenges you to take a different route, eat something new, respond in a different way, etc. Those little things are actually wins because they force you to decide whether you want to view them as something positive or negative. You get to decide.
Find the Humor
Not everything bad has to be attached to something meaningful. Sometimes the bad, when taken with a dose of humor, can make for a funny story later. Life is meant to challenge you. Instead of taking everything too seriously, find ways to make it more absurd.
Some of the biggest failures are the most valuable lessons. When we fail, it can be a blow to our egos. But when you fail at something, it’s an opportunity to see how you can do it better next time. Often we are hard on ourselves because of failures. When really it’s a moment to reflect on what we did, how we did it, what we’d change and if there’s another opportunity to try again. It’s okay to mess up. It’s what we do after that counts.
Focus On the Present
Too often we let our brains lead the way. Because they are easy to deceive us, they love to focus on the past (even if it was a few moments ago) or the future (which hasn’t happened yet, so there is still time for something else to happen). By focusing on the exact present moment that you are experiencing, it gives your mind a chance to take a scan about how you are truly feeling. When your brain and your heart lead too much of your life, you can always come back to your lungs. Sitting in the present moment just breathing can allow your brain and heart to quiet down.
Surround Yourself With Positive People
Who you associate with affects your mood and your mind. Those who share positive thoughts, positive experiences, and who are a positive influence on your life will outshine those who are negative.
Eliminating negativity (including negative people) from your life takes practice. But it has to come from you. Your desire to transform your thinking will evolve into changing your life. The benefits of creating a positive mindset are exponentially greater than maintaining a negative mindset. Plus, then you can be a positive influence on others around you. Positivity is contagious.