Very few of us are strangers to the toxicity that our minds like to create during our lives; negative thoughts can be a real drag. They can consume our minds and hold us back from reaching our potential. They can make us feel anxious, stressed, depressed, and keep us from experiencing joy and happiness in life. The good news is that with the right strategies and tools – and some hard work – we can learn to overcome negative thoughts and cultivate a positive mindset.
So today, lets talk about strategies and insights for mastering your mindset and overcoming negative thoughts:
Recognize and Challenge Negative Thoughts
The first step in overcoming negative thoughts is to recognize them, especially if they are a recurring issue. Pay attention to your inner dialogue and the thoughts that come into your mind. Once you recognize a thought as negative, challenge it. Ask yourself if it is true from a logical standpoint, and if there is any evidence to support it. If we can remain aware of the fact that we can sometimes act self-sabotaging, then we can more easily realize that negative thoughts are not based on reality and dismiss them with a little bit of scrutiny.
Although heavily underrated, gratitude is a powerful tool for cultivating a positive mindset. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we shift our focus away from negative thoughts and onto positive ones. Do you struggle to figure out what you’re grateful for? If so, make a daily practice of writing down three things you are grateful for, and reflect on them throughout the day. It may only take 10-15 minutes, and may be the same couple of things every time, but it’s important to remind us what we have. It’s easy to forget that the things we currently have in our lives were once things we pushed so very hard to obtain.
Surround Yourself with Positive Influences
A saying to live by is that “you are the five people you spend the most time with”. If the five people you spend your time with are millionaires, you are likely to be the sixth. If the five people you spend the most time with aren’t nice people, then you are also likely to be the sixth. That said, make sure to surround yourself with positive influences, such as friends who lift you up and positive role models. You can get a similar benefit from reading inspiring books or listening to podcasts or videos of people with a more positive outlook. Limit your exposure to negative influences, such as negative news or toxic people, and start to focus on the above areas instead.
We all make mistakes and have flaws – as much as we don’t like to admit it – and it’s important to treat ourselves with kindness and compassion. Instead of beating yourself up over a mistake or imperfection, treat yourself with the same compassion you would give to a friend. Speak to yourself with kindness and encouragement, and remember that we are all works in progress. We may not start out believing in our own positive self-talk, but that’s okay. The secret to becoming “a person with self-compassion” is to simply act how “someone with self-compassion” would act in their daily lies. If we do that for long enough, the rest will happen inadvertently.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgment, and not thinking about past regrets or future fears. When we practice mindfulness, we can become more aware of our in-the-moment thoughts and emotions, and are better able to manage them. Practice mindfulness through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply by focusing on your senses and surroundings. It takes awhile to get the hang of, but with proper practice and understanding, the sky is the limit.
Reframe Negative Thoughts
Sometimes, negative thoughts are rooted in a negative self-image. Reframe negative thoughts by focusing on your strengths and accomplishments, and reminding yourself of your worth and value. Instead of thinking “I’m not good enough,” reframe it to “I am capable and have achieved many things.” If that’s too big of a leap, you can also try thinking about yourself in the third person. Rather than “I’m not good enough”, say “[MY NAME] is not good enough”. Sometimes, taking that step back can help us realize how silly we sound when we get too deep into our negative self-talk.
The most important tip now that you’ve read the previous one; go and make a change. Set goals for yourself, and take steps towards achieving them. Even small steps can make a big difference in how you feel about yourself and your life. The difference between you and a person who has overcome their demons is rarely knowledge – it’s implementing and acting on that knowledge to change your life for the better.
The Strongest Struggle
Negative thoughts are one of the most challenging things for us as humans to overcome. We hang onto them for long periods of time, and it can sometimes take weeks, months or even years to overcome them. By that point, other thoughts can creep in that are just as bad, and then things can easily spiral out of control. While it is incredibly difficult and takes tremendous effort, overcoming our inner demons can be achieved with the right tools and strategies, such as the ones listed above. If all else fails, simply remember to continue trying no matter what. So long as you try again each time you get knocked down, you are never truly out of the race.