Negativity is a vicious cycle. We often mistake a “cup-half-empty” attitude as realism when, in reality, always expecting and seeing the worst in situations can be extremely harmful to your health and well-being. Dark, self-deprecating thoughts have the opposite effect you want them to, creating an aura of doom and gloom around you. They take a foothold on your life and, as you internalize them, they begin to present themselves in the form of stress, anger, anxiety and even depression.
And here’s the thing… nobody wants to be around that. While negative thoughts affect you from the inside out, they also eat away at you externally. In time, people will label you as a negative person. Your friends will withdraw. Your social life will dwindle. And, needless to say, the cycle will continue.
So how do you overcome those persistently negative thoughts? The solution is quite simple, actually. Just stop being so negative. Start by making an effort to go one full day without complaining. Trust me – it’s harder than it looks. Once you’ve mastered that, slowly begin eliminating negativity from your mind. When you feel a negative thought brewing, drown it out by thinking something happy instead. The more you practice, the easier it will be. Just remember, you are in charge of your thoughts and you have the power to change them.
“You are in charge of your thoughts and you have the power to change them.”
That’s the best advice I can offer. Simply think positively. But I’m not blind to the fact that we live in a world of concrete action (and listicles), so here’s three tangible ways to overcome negative thinking:
1. Surround yourself with happiness. Your environment inevitably rubs off on you. Your personality is almost entirely shaped by the people you associate yourself with, the activities you engage in, and the values you hold dear. So make time and space for goodness. Be choosy about what and who you make time for, and prioritize based on what your soul is telling you. If your neighbour is always complaining and grumbling about life, avoid her. If your boss asks you to pick up more hours at work but you know the office is a trigger for your negative thinking, don’t be afraid to say no. Instead, use that extra time to do something you love.
“Make time and space for goodness.”
2. Watch positive TV. As I’m sure you’ve heard, the media has a powerful effect on our thinking. When we surround ourselves with shows and movies that spread messages of hate and sadness and stress, it logically follows that we start to embody those emotions. Next time you’re scrolling through Netflix, opt for something with a happier theme. Comedies are the obvious choice, and you can never go wrong with a good ol’ family drama.
3. Write yourself love letters. Yes, I mean it. Whenever you catch yourself thinking negatively, grab a notebook and pen and scrawl down a few lines of sappy, lovey-dovey compliments about yourself. If you’re feeling worthless, jot down a few of your most valued qualities. Hate the way you look? Write down all the things you love about your body. If nothing else, the simple act of putting these positive messages on paper will have an extraordinary effect.
“Hate the way you look? Write down all the things you love about your body.”
Negativity is a powerful force. It’s difficult to overcome, and even more difficult to eliminate altogether. But it’s not impossible. Take it slow and be kind to yourself, and one day you’ll wake up radiating positivity.
Emily Watson is a freelance writer and certified yoga and medical Qi Gong instructor. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and has been writing – creatively and otherwise – for ten years. Off the mat and away from the keyboard, Emily can be found hiking, camping and traveling with her wife and fur babies. She currently lives and works for a publishing company in Peterborough, Ontario.