What is negativity in a practical sense?
Negativity and negative thinking can cost you everything. The sooner you can be rid of it and the negative people around you the more you will be able to achieve.
The reason negative thinking is so dangerous to your lives is because many of these thoughts happen deep inside your mind where you are unable to read, reach or even control them on a conscious level. The key is to realise that reacting negatively is not going to change what has happened. Negative thinking can manifest itself in all sorts of situations and usually creeps up without notice, burying itself deep inside your minds where it then becomes a bad habit that is hard to break.
Although there may be deep psychological reasons why you experience negative thoughts, you don’t need to know ‘why‘ you think negatively in order to successfully stop these thoughts, you simply need to know ‘what‘ thoughts you are thinking.
Examples of negative thoughts
Negative thinking can become a bad habit. Negative thoughts compound and linger until you take action to get rid of them.
- The economy is bad.
- I could never do that it’s too complex for me.
- The problem is beyond me, I could never pass the tests.
- I don’t think I am smart enough to get ahead.
- I don’t deserve to win, our business is not good enough.
- Others might be able to do the work but I can’t.
- I don’t think I am attractive to the people I have to deal with.
- If I don’t do well I consider myself a failure.
- I don’t think I am good enough to generate more profitable growth.
- The business is so untidy I don’t expect customers to come.
- I don’t think I will ever find a business I love.
- I don’t think my employees like me.
- I will never move to a better place, it might be worse.
Some of the causes of negative thinking
You aim too high
To counter this, take positive action. To do this try adopting this new behaviour, whether you want to reduce your stress, save more money, exercise more or spend more time with your family, pick one thing and work on it until it becomes natural. Then move on to the next thing on your list. If you need to adjust your goal, take the positive action and make the adjustment. This is the process of adopting new positive behaviours to replace those that do not serve you so that you can get the outcomes that you wish to achieve.
You make excuses
To counter this, think positive. It is one thing to accept the fact that thought creates action. It is an entirely different thing to perceive your own thoughts because your thoughts move quickly and are fleeting. Your words reflect your thoughts and feelings so when you make excuses for yourself, what you are really telling yourself is that you did not plan ahead and are not committed. Instead of making excuses, make a commitment to yourself. Tell yourself to be conscious of when you feel you are about to make an excuse and instead say a positive affirmation to plant the thoughts of awareness into your mind. This will bring you back to being committed to yourself and in turn you will gain confidence and a peace of mind.
You give up too quickly
To counter this, positive feeling. Success won’t happen overnight. Setbacks and slip-ups will continue to happen. Instead of getting down on yourself when you have a setback, turn it into a positive by remembering how you felt when you began your plan or when you accomplished a goal in your plan. Remembering this positive feeling will trigger the positive response centre within you. Feelings motivate your thoughts and when you feel good, you think good thoughts and take positive action. Set interim goals for yourself, so that you will see progress. It takes the time to change your habits but, the key is to keep trying and to keep moving forward.
By thinking positive you take positive action and experience positive feelings thereby reinforcing the positive behaviour you are now taking on as you break those bad habits.
Clear your mind of negative thoughts
When you first start thinking negatively, it can be tempting to try and force those thoughts out of your mind, but unfortunately, this often backfires. Resisting negative thoughts can actually reinforce your thinking and just make things worse. The more you try not to think about something, the more you actually end up thinking about it.
To get rid of negative thinking, you need to try a different approach:.
Change your body language
Take a moment to observe your body language. Are you slouching with a closed stance? Are you frowning? If you are, you’re more likely to think negatively. Bad body language can lower your self-image and therefore lead to a lack of confidence. In that emotional state, it’s only natural to start having bad thoughts. Sit up straight in a confident manner. Open your stance and smile more. Fix your body language and you’ll feel a lot better. It might be just what you need to clear those negative thoughts.
Talk it through
Sometimes negative thinking occurs because you have issues or emotions you need to let out. It’s not good to keep things to yourself. If you have something that needs to be addressed, you should talk them through with someone. Putting things into words gives your thoughts shape and form. This can help you put things into perspective so you can deal with them at the root of the problem.
Spend time clearing your mind of all thought
When your mind is running a mile a minute, it can be hard to keep up. With everything racing around your head, it can be hard to control the thoughts going on inside, especially the negative ones. Slow things down. One minute of calming is often all it takes. It’s like meditation – you’re emptying your mind, think of it as a reboot. Once it’s empty, you can fill it with something more positive.
Change the tone of your thoughts
Sometimes negative thinking is the result of a poor perspective. Take a look at the point of view you take on the things going on around you. For example, instead of thinking, “I’m going through a difficult time and I’m having trouble”. Instead think “I’m facing some challenges, but I’m working on finding solutions.” You’re basically saying the same thing, except the second way has a more positive spin on it. But sometimes that little shift of tone can make a huge difference to your thinking patterns.
Learn to become more creative
When negative thoughts come, it can pay to spend some time being create. Find a creative outlet for your thoughts. Write things out, draw or paint something – even if you have to use a crayon. As long as you’re using your creativity to get your negativity out, it can work. Exploring your emotions through creativity acts like auto-therapy and can elevate your mood. Creativity helps you to release your negativity. When you release your emotions via an art form, you clear them out of your system.
Go for a brisk walk
Because thoughts arise in the mind, it’s easy to assume that’s where they’re formed. Well, that’s only partly true. Sometimes our thoughts are a product of your environment. For example, if you surrounded yourself with negative people and negative imagery, you’d probably start to think negatively in turn. Stepping away from a negative environment can help immensely. Take a walk alone away from your usual atmosphere. Head somewhere uplifting like a park or museum. Time spent distancing you from those negative influences can bring you great peace of mind.
Make a list of what you are grateful for
Have you forgotten all the good things you have going for you? Sometimes in the daily grind, you lose focus on all the ways things that are going right in your lives. If that’s you, then you need to re-train your mind to focus on all the good happening around you instead of the bad. List off everything you’re grateful for no matter how small they seem to be. Don’t take anything for granted anymore. Sometimes the good things in your lives are right in front of your eyes and you still fail to see them. Stop being blind to the positive things you already have going for you.
Negativity can be controlled by retraining your brain
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to handle adversity well, while others plummet into negativity when life doesn’t go their way? The same event can happen to two people and one might respond by thinking: “That’s just a minor inconvenience”, while the other will think: “I can’t believe this has happened to me, it’s just terrible.”
You do have the ability to change the way you think. Just as a footballer trains for hours to perfect kicking the ball off the right foot and then the left foot until it becomes an automated response, you too can retrain your brain. With the right practice, you can teach yourself to be more positive, allowing you to be relaxed in situations you would normally avoid or find stressful, and help you to be less of a perfectionist or worried.
Retrain your brain to replace negative thinking with the power of positive thinking. Do you wake up on the wrong side of the bed every day? If you find that negative thoughts are starting to control your life, take action before stress starts to weigh you down. Learn to identify and eliminate negative thoughts, replacing them with positive actions. Not only will opportunities start to present themselves, but you’ll have the power to change your frame of mind, as well as the outcomes you are achieving.
Taking action to retrain your brain
Always start your day thinking of good things
They don’t have to be lofty or ambitious things. They can be as simple as the smell of a good cup of coffee or the sound of your favourite song. Thinking of these things and saying them out loud means you start each day focusing on the positive. This creates an uplifting basis for the rest of your day, making it more difficult for negativity to flourish.
Enjoy the moment
Though you may be busy, little things can keep your spirits high and give your mind fewer reasons to stray into negativity. Don’t take things too seriously. Allow yourself to relax, laugh, and smile. Take opportunities to socialise and surround yourself with supportive positive people. Negative frustrations can undermine your dreams, http://goo.gl/jX8xcy.
Practice healthy habits
Negative thinking and stress reinforce one another. While negative thinking can create stress, other unhealthy living habits can contribute to your negativity problem. Make an effort to eat nutritious food whenever possible, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. No more skipping meals and making excuses.
Become an inspiring person
One of the simplest ways to increase positivity in your life is to surround yourself with things that inspire positivity in all areas of your life. Seek out art that makes you feel good. Look for inspiring quotes for all areas of your life. Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook, “Birds of a feather flock together”. The more positive the people around you the easier it will be for you to be positive yourself. Fill your home, office and life with things that make you ‘feel’ good and remind you of all that life has to offer. Another great way to be inspired is by sharing good things with others. A friendly smile or a simple hello is contagious, share your positive outlook on life and watch it come back to you in bunches.
Start by improving your environment
If you’re unhappy with something, change it. Clean up the clutter around you, reduce the noise levels, play happy music or improve the lighting, These are just a few ways you can protect yourself from negativity in the work environment. If you find yourself becoming stressed, take a short break and think of something other than the source of your stress.
Start using positive affirmations
While you may feel silly verbalising positive statements or affirmations, studies have shown that saying positive things out loud will actually make you more likely to believe what you’re saying. It leads to you being happier and more focused while improving your outcomes.
Identify your negative thoughts
Make a list of all your negative thoughts. Look for thoughts that make you feel sad or discouraged, such as: blaming or shaming yourself for things that are out of your control. Interpreting simple mistakes as indicative of your personal failings, or imagining small problems are bigger than they are, should be stopped.
Stop the negative thought immediately
Once identified, counteract them by saying something positive about yourself. For example, instead of saying, “I’m having a really bad morning,” try saying something like, “this morning is rough, but my day will get better”. Keep your mind on the positive, by reminding yourself to stay positive it may just become a habit.
Pay attention to the words you use
Do you find yourself frequently using negative terms? For example, “I’ll never be able to do this,” or “I always mess this up.” Fixed thoughts in your mind are often exaggerated and leave no room for explanation or understanding of a new situation.
Remove overly negative words from your vocabulary
Extreme terms like “terrible” and “disaster” shouldn’t apply to minor annoyances and inconveniences. Toning down your language can help you put negative experiences into a healthier perspective. Replace these words with encouraging thoughts or praise. Replace these thoughts with a less extreme term. “Terrible” can become “unfortunate” or “not as good as I had hoped, “disaster” can become “inconvenience” or “challenge’.
Turn the bad into good
Few situations are totally good or totally bad. Finding the good in an upsetting situation helps bad experiences seem less bleak. If you find yourself thinking a negative thought, stop immediately and consider a positive aspect. Learning usually comes from bad experiences, mistakes and failures which can be a good thing.
Fight fear with action
One of the main sources of negative thinking comes from the words “I can’t.” I can’t often come from fear (fear of failure, rejection or judgment) and can be debilitating and harmful . Fight fear with action and action-oriented words. Instead of saying “I can’t,” just go ahead and give it a try! Not much is truly impossible unless you put your mind to it then you “can” accomplish anything. Replace words like ‘I can’t” or ‘I won’t be able to’ with ‘I will’ or ‘I’ll try’. ‘Nike’ was onto something with the phrase “Just Do It!”.
Find a quiet, comfortable place and set aside time to relax. Mentally review the negative things in your day and deal with them quickly. Then identify all positive things you experienced. Writing them down in a journal will help reinforce the good things that can and are happening to you.
Meditation can be an excellent outlet for stress and negativity. When most people think of meditation they picture ‘Buddhist Monks’ sitting silently for hours on end. This form of meditation takes amazing discipline and is not realistic for most lifestyles. Meditation does not have to take up a large amount of time, and can usually be accomplished anywhere and adjusted to fit every schedule. The basic purpose of meditation is to relax your mind and body and allow positivity into your life.
Simply find a quiet place that is free of distractions and focus on your breathing. Clear your mind of all thoughts and allow your body to relax. Once you feel relaxed and your mind is clear begin to think about positive things that make you feel good. The main goal is to get your mind relax and tuned into the positive aspects of life so it can stay in that state for more extended periods. There is no wrong way to meditate, as long as you accomplish relaxation you are on the right track.
If all the above fails seek out a practical counsellor
If you feel overwhelmed by your negative experiences, you may benefit from speaking to a counsellor. Look for a counsellor trained in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. They will be able to help you train your mind to think positively. This can help you to examine how you think about yourself, other people and the environment you work in, as well as how your actions impact on your thoughts and feelings.
Make the change to a more positive life
So, if you are not aware of negativity how can you change? The answer is simple and complex all at the same time. Although you will never be able to control every thought your mind processes, you do have the ability to choose and adjust the ones you think about consciously.
After writing your thoughts down, you can identify your over-generalising, jumping to conclusions, or personalising situations? You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to events. Recognise your negative thinking. The first step towards increasing positive thoughts is to start decreasing negative thoughts.
It sounds simple, but research shows that when a positive and a negative event occur on the same day, you tend to focus more heavily on the negative. For example, if you sleep through your alarm and miss your first meeting of the day, what is your initial reaction? Do you feel stressed, angry and frustrated? Do you think: “my entire day will now be a disaster” or, “I can’t cope with this added pressure I’ve created”?
Writing your thoughts down on paper can help illustrate how illogical our thinking can be. Ask yourself what evidence there is that these thoughts are actually true. Have you always thought like this? What is a healthier, more realistic thought? Over the next few weeks, whenever negative thoughts pop into your head, jot them down in a journal. Examine these thoughts and the internal stories you tell yourself. It is said that if you want to replace a bad habit with a good one, just practice for 30 days.
Become creative in solving your negativity issues
You can easily use your natural creativity to harness the power of positive thinking. One of my favourite projects to promote positivity in my life is through creating a vision board. Get yourself a large piece of paper and begin gathering words, pictures and items that inspire positive thoughts for you. Take these items and arrange them on the piece of paper in a collage. The outcome does not need to make sense to anyone but you so don’t worry about pattern or style, the aim is to create a collection of things that make you feel good. Once you have completed this exercise hang the finished product somewhere you will see it every day such as your bedroom, kitchen or by the fridge door. It will serve as a reminder of all the things that make you happy and will promote positivity.
Practice makes perfect. When you think positively, you feel more alive, more engaged, energetic and productive. Who wouldn’t want to feel like this all the time? It takes time, effort and persistence to master these skills, so don’t give up. A good start is to ask yourself what you are thinking right now and how realistic this is.
Focus on your feelings
The way you feel physically can be an excellent indicator of your thoughts. You may not be able to pay attention to every thought but, the chances are you will be able to pay attention to how you are feeling. Make an effort to stop regularly throughout the day and assess the way you are ‘feeling‘. If you find that you are physically reflecting sadness, anger or frustration, take a moment to think about something that changes the way you feel. You can do this by recalling a happy memory, thinking about something you are grateful for or something you are looking forward to. Try pretending, paste a smile on your face or laugh out loud. It is almost impossible to feel bad when you are smiling. This is a trick that works wonders for your emotional well-being.
Consider a frustrating moment when you felt bad about yourself. Maybe it was before a party when you realised the clothes you were planning to wear were too tight or looked all wrong. Chances are this negative emotion led to others that made it more difficult, sometimes even impossible, to get yourself ready to go. When you allow negative thoughts to enter your mind you run the risk of allowing them to overcome you and even consume you in mere moments.
The reality is often hard for many people to accept. Close your eyes and imagine yourself building a better future, what do you see yourself doing and when would you like to do it. When you look at your current reality, do you feel there’s something missing in your life or you’re always waiting for something to arrive? This blog is about helping you have a reality check on your aspirations. Reality checks build better futures, http://goo.gl/cOJ7ft.
Dealing with negativity in other people
Dealing with other people’s negativity may involve dealing with your own negativity first. How other people treat you is the single biggest determinant of your happiness and business success. The reason your happiness depends so much on the quality of your relationships is because humans are supremely social creatures.
Most people react negatively, one way or another to something new. Be ready for it.
You care so much about what others think of you that, you would rather experience an unpleasant event with those who share your negative opinions than experience a pleasant event in the company of those who disagree with you. Your social nature is also the reason why being in love is one of the most cherished experiences and why isolation is considered as one of the life’s most unpleasant experiences.
This means that it can be excruciatingly difficult to deal with negative people, people who bring your mood down with their pessimism, anxiety and general sense of distrust. Imagine being constantly discouraged from pursuing your dreams because very few people ever make it big. Or imagine being constantly warned against learning a new skill such as scuba diving, rifle shooting or horse riding because ‘it’s too dangerous’.
Likewise, imagine being routinely exposed to negative judgments about other people. Constant exposure to such negativity can make deep inroads into your bank of positivity, leading you to either become negative, diffident, anxious and distrustful of yourself. You may even become indifferent, uncaring, or mean towards the negative person.
Just walking away may not be the answer
One obvious solution is to walk away from them. But this is easier said than done. While you can always walk away from a bartender with a bad attitude or the airline agent with an anger management problem, you can’t walk away from a parent, sibling, spouse, colleague or friend with a negative attitude. This can only make your situation worse.
A more practical approach is to start by understanding the reasons for their negativity. In reality, almost all negativity has its roots in one of three deep-seated fears:
- The fear of not being loved by others.
- The fear that “bad things” are going to happen.
- The fear of missing out.
Fears feed off each other
These fears feed off each other to fuel the belief that “the world is a dangerous place and people are generally mean”. The fears that negative people harbour themselves in a variety of ways, including:
- A thin skin or the tendency to take umbrage at other’s comments.
- They seek attention and negativity sets in if they don’t get it.
- They are very judgmental.
- Shyness, and a sense of helplessness about their ability to deal with life’s challenges.
- Demanding nature, particularly of those close to them, they like to control others.
- Pessimism or the tendency to believe that the future is bleak.
- Risk aversion, especially in social and business settings.
- More often than not they express feelings of being unwell.
Look at this from their perspective, their negativity is a thinly disguised cry for help. Of course, negative people do themselves no favours by being needy, controlling and complaining all the time. They would be far more successful in getting the respect, love and control they crave if they realised how self-defeating their neediness and desire for control is. But, that doesn’t take away the fact that negative people need help.
A straightforward, but ultimately unproductive way of helping negative people is to give them the respect, love, and control they crave. However, this could be a slippery slope since people adapt to the new levels of respect, love, and control they get and therefore you may find yourself in the position of having to provide increasing levels of support to keep them happy. By fulfilling their desires, you may find it may come back to haunt you.
You have alternatives when dealing with negative people
An alternative solution is to get the negative person to see the source of their negativity . Make them realise that their negativity has more to do with their attitude than with the objective state of the world. However, people don’t respond well to critical feedback and those feeling negative will probably not be open to listening, let alone accepting critical feedback.
This means there are really only two other options left for you. First, you can grit your teeth and accept the negativity and hope that things will improve. The second is to seek the help of a counsellor or an arbiter (e.g., a common friend), and hope that a “third party’s” perspective will help the negative person recognise that their negativity isn’t helping anyone.
The most tenable option for dealing with negative people involves three elements: compassion for the negative person, taking responsibility for your own happiness despite the other person’s negativity, and maturity in how you interact with the negative person.
But, how do you manifest positive attitudes you want the negative person to exhibit without preaching or being judgmental? The trick is to act like a person who is fully secure, who is respected and loved by others and in control of the important aspects of their life.
It may take a long time for you to see any results. The pace of change will likely be glacial. But whatever change occurs will be relatively permanent.
An important fact
The fact is people like being around positive people. The negative person will, even if only grudgingly, have to appreciate your positive outlook and attitudes. People also like feeling positive themselves. So, as the negative person absorbs positivity from your presence, they will like themselves better. This hopefully will lead to a virtuous cycle of greater trust in others and optimism about the future.
“If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory”. William Hazlitt
“That’s my gift. I let that negativity roll off me like water off a duck’s back. If it’s not positive, I didn’t hear it. If you can overcome that, fights are easy”. George Foreman