When you’re very little, people tell you that you’re doing a good job just for walking. Stepping with one foot and then the other is a simple enough task now, but you could only have gotten it done if you kept trying. As we get older, people encourage us less and we begin to circle our thoughts down a drain of negativity. At least that’s how I feel! But here are a few tricks I’ve picked up in order to keep myself from getting discouraged.
1. Stop it. Sometimes I get so trapped in negative thinking that I don’t even realize it. But, there are other times where it’s like I’m doing it on purpose because it feels better to imagine all the ways in which I will fail than to try. But guilt, shame and fear of failure are all wastes of thought. If you notice that you’re indulging yourself in negative thought spirals and negative self-speak try to actively stop. Often this will mean switching your brain to focus on something else. And the next three items on the list are options for what you could do next. But the first step is acknowledging it and trying to stop it.
2. Take deep breaths. Now take three or four very deep breaths and imagine a color or sense or something that you like. Imagine it filling you body as you inhale. I’ve heard people say that they imagine the exhale as bad things leaving the body, but that doesn’t work for me because then I end up visualizing the bad things. Instead I imagine positive going in and soaking into my cells, and then the leftover steam from it coming out. Sounds kinda weird, but it works for me. These types of visualizations aren’t necessary. But deep breaths are a good jumpstart to calming negative thoughts.
3. List the good. Take some time every day to write down what you like about yourself, or your life. What do you think you’re doing right? For what reasons are you extremely lucky? Why should you be proud of yourself? What are you looking forward to? Did you do anything to get towards a goal? Write down how proud you are that you worked towards something. These types of lists can really help you take the time to think, and appreciate what you’re doing well and what you’ve got going for you. So instead of just thinking “You’re a failure and you never do anything right and that’s why you’re unhappy” you take the time to combat that, in writing, with, “Actually, you succeeded at work today, you’re excellent at organization, and you’re so lucky to have such great friends.”
4. Be your best friend. The idea that someone is their own worst enemy has been around forever. And we all relate to it to an extent. At least, I think everybody does. Anyone who thinks negatively isn’t just their own worst enemy, instead that negative thought spiral becomes their own personal bully. People absolutely berate and verbally abuse themselves all the time. When you notice yourself doing that, have empathy for the person you’re making fun of, and give them a compliment. Encourage yourself to be more than just the victim of negative thinking.
So let’s all go out into the wonderful springtime and be kinder to ourselves. Try these tips and let me know how it goes.