With all of the negativity swirling around us in today’s world, it’s easy to be sucked into the tornado of anger and bitterness. Maintaining a positive outlook can be challenging, but by doing so, our lives can be drastically changed for the better. So how do you reprogram your brain to think more positively? Use the outline below to formulate your own plan to proactively stop negative thoughts, feelings and actions dead in their tracks.
- Keep a Journal and Take Notice of Your Thoughts and Words: Start paying closer attention to the way you think, speak and act. Every time you find yourself being negative, make a conscious effort to journal about it. Sometimes the simple act of writing a few sentences is enough to lift the weight off your shoulders and bring to light how much negativity you are experiencing. If you are having a hard time with this exercise, confide in someone you trust and ask them to let you know when they notice negative behavior. Because negativity can become habitual and second nature, we may not be able to recognize it in our lives initially, which is why it may be helpful to ask someone to be your accountability partner. Once you recognize that a change is needed, you can take the first steps to understanding and working through the things that may trigger negativity.
- Become Mindful of What Triggers Your Negativity: The first step to avoiding negative thought patterns is to realize what triggers negativity in your mind. Perhaps your trigger is a relative with differing political views who likes to remind you every chance he can. The negative you would argue, but the positive you will either divert the conversation to a lighter topic or remove yourself from the situation completely. On the other hand, your trigger could be a bit more complex like a workplace or particular job. More than likely, you can’t just leave when you feel the negativity bubbling inside of you, and sometimes we aren’t in the position to quit our jobs. So how do we face triggers like these? Focus on the positive things around you, even the smallest things like lunch breaks outside, or that one coworker who always has a smile on their face. Train yourself to find the good in every situation. Learn to think through your negative thoughts, process and release them and move on as best you can.
- Meditatively Weed Out Your Mind Space: Now that you have determined what triggers to avoid and how to focus on the good even if you can’t get away from those triggers, begin weeding your mind space. Think or talk yourself through your negative thoughts and then remove them as quickly as they come. Just like when you pull weeds from a garden, it does no good to pull out the surface foliage without removing the roots as well. If you’ve allowed yourself to dwell on negative thoughts, you’ve been feeding the weeds. Having your plan of action ready before negativity has a chance to root will save you from spending too much time digging out weeds. Keep in mind that this takes practice. Building new habits is never easy, so reward yourself as you grow toward a more positive you.
- Reward Yourself When You are Able to Fight the Temptation to be Negative: While working toward a more positive life, the process can feel tedious and overwhelming at times. To combat the natural slump of discouragement that may creep in, it’s important to reward yourself along the way. If you recognize a negative thought before it develops into a full-grown weed, treat yourself to a candy bar or a walk through your favorite park. Or if you spoke positively about your job or coworker for an entire week, reward yourself with something bigger like a weekend getaway with friends or family. Come up with a list of rewards and what actions need to be taken to reach those goals. Hang it on a mirror, wall or other location you frequent as a constant reminder of what you are working toward. Before you know it, you’ll notice a change in your mind space, as well as your physical health.