I’ve recently been prompted to zero in on negative thoughts, negative people, and general negativity in life. As one of the many people out there who are prone to seeing the glass half empty, I find it takes a certain amount of effort on my part to maintain a positive outlook. If you are one of those people with heaviness as a constant companion, you know that it takes practice to get to a neutral base mood that many people take for granted.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come more to grips with the idea of happiness as a choice, and that makes it a whole lot easier to make that choice. We all have options when it comes to how we live, the type of person we are, the activities with which we fill our time, the projects we pursue, and these are all part of that constant choice we make every day to pursue happiness.
With that said, not every day can be a leap forward in the pursuit of a dream life. On the contrary, many days are just part of the grind that is required when pursuing any goal that really matters. And those are the days when negativity and questioning can seep in, threatening the sense of focus, ambition, and certainty that you once had.
With all of this in mind, I’ve put together a few of the strategies that help me deal with negativity and negative thoughts. Here’s to hoping that they might help you get through some of the darkness as well.
Step 1: Be Upfront With The People Around You
Because negativity and complaining seem to be a constant way of communicating these days, it can feel sometimes like the people you spend your time with are trying to undermine your quest for positivity. First, it’s important to remember that this is not the case. Sometimes, people just need to vent, to have someone to listen, to connect about something.
But then again, some people generally just complain and have negative attitudes about everything. They’ve let their negativity snowball. In these cases, it’s best to be upfront. Not that you should cut off your friends when they have genuine complaints, but to let them know that you are trying to focus more on the positive, and that maybe they should consider your more optimistic perspective before responding with another hopeless remark. Sometimes it just takes the acknowledgement of a downward spiral to bring it to a halt.
Step 2: Find A Meditative Practice That Suits You
Meditation is touted as perhaps one of the best daily practices that you can adopt, but that doesn’t mean that you have (and if you have, I send you my sincerest congratulations). I fall into the camp of people who’ve tried several times to get into the habit, but always manage to fall off the wagon. However, I’ve come to realize that my daily yoga practice gives me some of those meditative benefits.
I’m no expert in the matter, but it seems that in lieu of a typical daily meditation session, there are ways to enter a meditative state that can do so much to alter your perspective, rinse away some of that negativity, and really get you out of a mental block. Try a few of the following to see what works for you:
- Walking, Hiking, or Running (without tracking)
- Drawing or Colouring
Of course, if meditation is the right meditative practice for you but you still haven’t made it a habit, remember that there are different forms of meditation and maybe it will take a bit of research to find the one that works best for you.
Step 3: Focus On Health
When you just don’t know what to do with yourself, sometimes the best thing to do is drink a big glass of water, eat a big salad, and/or go for a long run. When you do good by your body, offer it some of the nourishment that it might need, it’s a lot easier to feel positive about everything else.
A lot of people feel that being fit and healthy comes from restriction and willpower. But that’s not a good mentality to adopt. You should see eating healthily as giving your body fuel and nourishing it, and keeping fit as maintaining and improving your strength and mobility so that you can do more and enjoy more in life. Physical wellness and mental wellness are deeply connected, and this becomes all the more apparent when you really begin to make more of an effort overall.
Step 4: Question Your Thoughts
Many times, the things we are down about don’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things. Not to downplay how you are feeling, but sometimes I find myself feeling hopeless when I’m really in a much better position than other people I know. The world of the internet can make us feel inferior even though others would look upon our lives with envy. And I don’t mean just those in drastically different circumstances and regions, but likely even other people in your own life.
You know writing it all down will help, but sometimes you are so caught up in your own downward spiral that it feels like a massive effort to even look for a pen and paper. So, if you don’t want to write down your feelings and try to better understand them, at least say them out loud. Have a conversation with yourself about why you are having certain thoughts, how you are feeling about a situation, and why you feel that way. This is one of the most obvious steps you can take, but it’s important enough to bring up anyway.
Step 5: Have A Side Project
Sometimes, what we are working towards in life can include certain steps that make us feel unfulfilled. Perhaps school is uninspiring but the ultimate career is what you want. Maybe your entry-level job has a lot of superfluous tasks that are just part of the deal when you’re low on the totem pole. But, if you know you are on the right track (and this is something you should consider from time to time and course correct–a topic for another time), then it can feel as though there’s nothing else you can really do to feel those successes that we all need sporadically.
This is when it’s time to realize that you can have other hobbies and projects in life. Yes, it feels like a simple realization, but just step back and think about how many people go home and watch TV all night and do little else after they’ve finished a day’s work. Your work doesn’t have to be your whole life, though many people live that way.
I don’t mean you have to start a business or write a book in your off time (though if that sounds good to you, you can certainly make it happen), but you can have other goals that you work toward. Maybe that’s writing an article and having it published, sewing your own dress, running a marathon, becoming a decent painter, or doing a headstand. Look at what you admire other people doing and acknowledge that you can do that too. You just have to make the effort and start your own practice. It’s a lot easier to be positive about life when you open those doors up for yourself.
Step 6: Accept Sadness
Life can be unfair, tragic, and generally terrible at times. Bad things will happen from time to time. Devastating things will happen. And sometimes, all you can do is keep your head above water.
Know that things will get easier with time, but that you don’t have to beat yourself up over being sad or get over something immediately (if at all–some things will always be with you). Ignoring these feelings and burying them won’t help you accept what’s happened and go on living. Suppressing pain over a loss is not practicing positivity. What matters is your perspective moving forward–you can either keep sinking or find some lifeline of positivity that will haul you from the depths.