I was recently reading a blog post by a mentor of mine, Yaro Starak, about readjusting your mindset from negative to positive. He talks about how powerful our minds are at influencing our bodies, circumstances and even outcomes. It was a great article and it reminded me of steps you could take to stop the negative thoughts. Let me share this with you.
Realize You Have Negative Thoughts
Like the cliche saying goes: the first step to getting better is to realize you have a problem.
Try this simple negative thought test.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes.
- Start or continue whatever project you were working on.
- Every time a question comes up in your mind, see what your knee jerk answer is.
- Take a look at this answer. Is it positive? Negative? Neutral?
- If it’s positive or neutral, continue what you’re doing and see if you can repeat this process and make it to 15 minutes without having a negative answer, thought or interpretation.
- More than likely, you’ll be negative WAY before 15 minutes are up.
Why Should I Worry About Negative Thoughts? We ALL Have Them, Right?
It’s true most people, at one time or another, get caught in the negative thoughts wasteland. The difference between the people who struggle in life and those that succeed is the ratio of positive to negative thoughts. Everybody has a bad day or a bad couple of hours sometimes. The people who struggle the most are the ones who see nearly everything that happens in life through a negative lens.
You know people like this. They could literally win a thousand dollars and be worried about how they’ll ever figure it into their taxes! I know it sounds ridiculous. I used to work with people who could shoot down any positive occurrence by casting a fear based, negative pall on it.
At the end of the day, where do you want to be counted? Among the people who look for the positive in any situation or those that are “waiting” for the bad thing to happen ALWAYS!
The Fifteen Minute Timer As Your Friend
Now, we’re going to actively try to control our thoughts and see where that takes us.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes.
- Whenever a thought comes up, ask yourself “Is this thought negative?”
- If so, ask yourself “Is this thought true beyond a shadow of a doubt?”
- If no, change it to a positive thought. For example, if you’re negative thought was “I’ll never get this project done”, change it to “I’ll get this project done with time to spare.”
- ONLY do this for 15 minutes! You wouldn’t want to be positive for too long, right? LOL!
- Seriously, stop after 15 minutes and see how you’ve done. Was it an easy 15 minutes or hard? Did you have to change a lot of thoughts or a few.
- If you were mostly positive for this period, make a note to try 30 minutes tomorrow. Increase the time by whatever increment you are comfortable with.
- Re-evaluate each day you try this. If you find you’re completely negative for any time period, consider backing up to the last successful period and try it again.
Don’t Expect This To Change Overnight
The first piece of advice I can give you is to realize most of us struggle with this throughout our lives. The good news the people that you think of as positive didn’t get there overnight either. Many have had numerous, huge setbacks but their positive mindset is the thing that got them past it.
The second piece is that you WILL get better at this! Anything you expose your mind to on a consistent basis will develop as a habit. Right now, most of us have let the negative thought habit rule the mind.
How Do You Do With This, Jeff?
To be honest, I struggle with it constantly. Even when I think I’m being positive about something, my brain is sometimes just tricking me into believing this.
That is, until something really goes wrong! Then, it’s ready to shoot me down into a negative thought pattern that has me wondering “Did I really just say/think that?” No kidding.
The other way I get fooled is when I think negatively about something and then tell myself it’s really not that important a thing anyway. Don’t YOU fall for this trick! I call it “middle of the road” negativity. That is where you are either mildly negative about something or you downplay the issue entirely as if being negative on something unimportant doesn’t matter. Your egoic mind is VERY SNEAKY!
Relax, Breathe and Know It WILL Be OK!
That’s probably the best piece of advice I can give you about the whole process. If you get frustrated by this, try my Five Minute Mental Tune-Up before you go back to what you were doing. It will clear your mind and get you back to center.
Beyond that, set an intention that you WILL get better at this. Also, make sure you brain knows that you are not risking your life here. It may be a little uncomfortable for a while but it will improve. You will get better at this and you will find yourself defaulting to positive thoughts way more than the negative ones.
Tell Me Where You’re At
I’d love to know where you fall on the positive to negative scale. I’d also like to hear any strategies you’ve used that have helped you switch the thoughts from negative to positive. Leave me a comment below and let me hear from you!
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To your success,