Being negative is really, really tiring – it can wear you down both physically and mentally. But how do you stop being negative when it’s all you’ve ever known? Many of us carry forward thoughts and feelings which were impressed upon us in our childhood by primary care-givers. Sometimes these thoughts will be good, positive ones, about how to become a wonderful, productive human being, but when you’ve been brought up by negative people who tell you constantly that you’ll never amount to anything, it’s a very difficult mind-set to get out of.
After all, most of you will have been raised with certain rules – rules which tell you that you should listen to, and respect, what your elders tell you. You believe that they know better than you – they are the adults and wisdom comes with age, right? Wrong! Not necessarily. Some people can be cruel in the way they raise kids and this can have a life-long impact on every relationship you get into as you grow up.
Just as positive affirmations will draw positivity into your life, negative ones will have the opposite effect and draw negativity to you. That negativity has a tendency to stick to you like super glue and it can be so difficult to become able to shrug it off and the problem lies with your belief system. Because you are ultimately a good person who has had the misfortune to have negativity around you, you have probably believed all the lies which have been fed to you over the years. And they are lies!
How many times have you said to yourself something like, ‘I will never win the lottery. I’m just an unlucky person – nothing good will ever happen to me because I don’t deserve it’? And because, (so far,) nothing great has happened, you believe that, right? But let’s look at that in another way. Great things have happened to you, you just haven’t recognised them as great, just yet.
What things can be considered as being ‘great’ things which have already occurred in your life? Great things can be thought of as the fact that you’ve got as far as you have in life, despite the bad things which have happened to you, and not because of them. Although you probably don’t realize it as yet, you are stronger than you think – because you’ve had to be. And so now you need to put that strength into practise.
Turning negatives into positives
- The problem with negative thinking is that you have the tendency to see everything in black or white, for example, ‘nothing good will ever happen to me’ instead of ‘who knows – something good might happen today’. Do you see the difference? When you start to believe that there is a middle ground, (the grey area, if you like, not black and not white,) then you begin to see that things are not set in stone and that you can have good things come into your life. ‘Black or white’ thinking leaves you with little room for flexibility and causes rigidity in your thoughts. When you relax a little, flexibility will begin to creep in.
- Try not to generalize about things, no matter how tempting that might be. For example, if you tell yourself that one bad thing happening means that you may as well write the whole day off, that’s not necessarily true. Okay, bad things do happen but it’s how you deal with them that’s important. When something happens which isn’t ideal, such as an argument with your partner over breakfast, try to see it as a temporary ‘blip’ and then move on, and you will be far less likely to have a bad day. But if you continue to brood over it and carry it with you into work, you are already setting yourself up for a bad day. Your mood will be down and your work mates will sense that – they will either shy away from you, sensing your mood or the ones who like to stir things will try to ‘rattle your cage’ and see if they can provoke you into an argument. You argue with them, your boss gets involved and your day goes from bad to worse. Nip it in the bud, accept it for what it is and vow to put things right when you get back home.
- What’s more important? To be right, or to be happy? Most people can be rather stubborn when it comes to feeling they are in the right, but just think about that for a moment. Is the argument worth actually losing your cool over? Does it matter who wins the football? It’s only your opinion after all, and not fact. Think about whether it’s important to be in the right all the time – what’s the result of that going to be? You may gloat for a while, but you’ll end up being lonely while you do!
- Avoid being persistently pessimistic – again, it’s about how you look at things. Do you get all worked up about being a queue at the grocery store? You can turn that around and look on it as an opportunity to chat with your partner, or the person waiting patiently behind you – their wait is going to be longer than yours! Has rain stopped you from taking the children to the beach and that’s ‘ruined’ your day? Take the time to make something creative with them instead or get them to stage a play for you. There’s fun and good times to be had in most situations, as long as you look for it!
- Don’t keep saying ‘should’ – ‘I should be a better parent’, ‘I should be a better partner’, ‘I should be a better co-worker’… the list could go on and on. When you tell yourself that you ‘should’ do something, you are putting pressure on yourself to ‘perform’. You are not a circus performer, you are you and that’s good enough for most people. Swap ‘I should’ for ‘I will try my best to…’ The pressure to ‘perform’ will disappear. It is possible to stop being negative, when you apply some cold, hard logic to a situation, instead of being led by your heart.