If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think another negative thought.
In our line of work, Angel and I hear from hundreds of coaching clients and students enrolled in our Getting Back to Happy course every month. Through this experience, we often see the same exact negative thinking patterns tearing otherwise healthy individuals apart. And we’ve witnessed, firsthand, the devastation this negativity causes to their personal and professional growth, and to their relationships.
But let’s be honest, we all get our minds stuck in the gutter sometimes. None of us are immune to the negative thoughts that creep up in the backs of our minds. However, that doesn’t mean we have to succumb to them. Whether your negative thinking is a common occurrence, or just a once in a while phenomena, it’s critical for your long-term happiness and success that you are able to recognize when you’re thinking negatively, and consciously shift your mindset from negative to positive.
Here are nine of the most common negative thoughts we see people struggle with, and some tips to get back on track:
- “I need to be exactly who they want me to be.” – Life offers you a priceless opportunity in every single moment to see and experience Who You Really Are. Seize it! Sometimes we get completely lost in trying to live life for others, trying to meet their expectations, doing things just to impress them. Take a moment now and stop yourself. Are you doing things because you truly believe in them? Remember your own needs and goals. Remember who YOU are. Live, do and love so that you are happy too, because when it comes down to it, you can’t be true to others unless you are true to yourself first.
- “I don’t like them because they are different.” – Make a promise to yourself. Promise to stop the drama before it begins, to breathe deeply and peacefully, and to love others and yourself without conditions. Promise to laugh at your own mistakes, and to realize that no one is perfect; we are all human. Feelings of self-worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible. (Read Loving What Is.)
- “They have it so much easier than me.” – No one has it easier than you. Every one of us is fighting our own private battles. The strongest among us aren’t those who show strength we can see, but those who have won incredible inner battles we know nothing about. Assuming someone has it easier than you only builds a barrier between the two of you.
- “I don’t have enough (or I am not enough) to make a difference.” – Many of your greatest accomplishments in life will come when you are able to bless someone else while you are going through your own storm. So regardless of what’s going on in your life, be gentle and kind. Think before you speak and act. Always remember that the words and actions you choose can only be forgiven, not forgotten. You were made to make a difference, so embrace every opportunity to do so. No act of your kindness, no matter how tiny, will ever be wasted.
- “It’s all their fault.” – If you sit around for too long blaming others for the things they did or didn’t do, or know or didn’t know, you’ll remain sitting in one spot until you pass. Placing blame is easy, because it means you don’t have to do anything; you just have to sit around for your entire life. But that’s not living; that’s dying. To accept where you are without blame by seizing the present for what it is – for the opportunities it’s giving you every instant – that’s what injects life into your story, into your relationships, and ultimately moves you forward.
- “I will never forgive them.” – We often keep our hearts closed, not because we don’t trust others not to leave us, let us down, or stop loving us, but because we don’t trust ourselves to survive the pain of them leaving, letting us down, or not loving us anymore. How ironic, considering that only by suffering through these very losses, do we come to realize our true strength. Truth be told, it takes a strong heart to love, but it takes an even stronger heart to continue to love after it’s been hurt. If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your heart, forgive them, for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious when you open your heart. You are stronger now and better equipped to find the kind of love you deserve. Bottom line: Don’t let the wrong people from your past keep you from the right people in your present. Forgive and move forward. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- “I’m way too busy for family and friends right now.” – The people you take for granted today may be the only ones you need tomorrow. Never be too busy to make time for those who matter most, because sooner or later you just want to be around those special people who make you smile. So today, make time for those who help you love yourself more. Schedule them into your busy day. They are worth it.
- “It’s OK to stretch the truth sometimes.” – No, it really isn’t. In fact, it’s disheartening to think how many people are shocked by honesty, and how few by deceit. Don’t be one of them. Uphold the truth, always. Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often, and you should be the one shocking them with honest words and deeds every day. The bottom line here is that an honest, loving heart is the beginning of everything that is right with this world. It’s what brings us together and keeps us together through thick and thin. (Read The Four Agreements.)
- “My mistakes today prove that I am a failure.” – This mindset will drive you and everyone around you crazy. Finish each day and be done with it. You have done the best you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forgive and forget them as soon as you can. Remember, your failure does not define you, your determination does. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, smarter than before. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it peacefully and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with old nonsense.
If you can relate to any of these negative thoughts, remember, you are not alone. We all have negativity buried deep within us that has the potential to sneak up on us sometimes. The key, of course, is awareness – recognizing these negative thoughts when they arise and stopping them in their tracks.
So, what negative thoughts sometimes sneak up on you? How has your negativity pushed people away from you? How have you coped? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights with us.
Photo by: Lauren Rushing
Joanna L says
In the past I often let self-defeating negativity get the best of me in so many ways, and it was terribly damaging to my wellbeing and my relationships. I let the little negative voices in my head run rampant. They basically scared me out of living and growing to my potential in all walks of life.
The truth I have found is that listening to your own lies and refusing to admit that they are nonsense is a sure road to regret.
These days I’ve been calling myself out and I’ve become much better at stating the truth in my head. In most cases: “I’m not doing the ‘right’ things because I am scared and insecure, not because I don’t want to.”
As always, thank you for the continued guidance through your blog, book, and newsletters. Looking forward to joining your Getting Back to Happy course for more growth in the upcoming year.
Peter Owen says
Excellent advice in this post! Sometimes we get so caught up in the negative that we actually talk ourselves into believing something that is completely made up in our heads. This has resonated so much throughout my life and more specifically this week as I’ve dealt with some unexpected struggles. We have to sometimes let go of what we think could happen and realize that through all of life’s toughness we have to “fight” and realize we would not be here if we didn’t fight through some of the toughest times. My hope is that if when we feel negative sometimes, the best medicine is to reach out to others and find ways of lifting them up.
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle
Sandra Pawula says
You’ve already mentioned blaming others and I so agree this is like poison. The truth is, it comes from such a deep place of insecurity that blaming becomes like a knee-jerk reaction. It takes a lot of courage to fess up to this and to start on a different path, but so worthwhile.
Wow! Another home run post! I am glad found your site last year and signed up for your emails. I am now using many snippets from your posts and your book like affirmations every morning. Each one resonates with me in a positive way. And each time I read them I see another aspect of meaning in what they say. Some of the points in this post will be added into the rotation tomorrow morning.
One of my big struggles right now is point #1. I have been trapped in a vicious circle of believing haters while also feeling as if I’d missed my chance in life, or rather feeling as if it never started, but now I realise (yes, the British “s”) it is all to do with my thinking when I am alone. With your help I am getting better an conquering that negative voice in the back of my head. The way you write has an impact that cuts through all the negative debris clearly and succinctly. I have read many books in recent years and the way information is written or ideas expressed is almost as important as the information itself in terms of how or whether it sinks in. YOUR way works with me. I am very happy to be signed up to your blog and invested in your book.
nike boy says
Awesome post. Thank you.
#3 is my cardinal sin…can’t seem to look past it.
I absolutely Love your posts. For a long long time I was so stuck in a world off self-pity..Poor me..why me..it must have been me….oh I could go on. I blamed my ex for leaving me with our small child; I was so full of resentment hurt anger…oh i could go on there too :). I simply could not live life because my hurt consumed my every waking moment I turned into someone I no longer knew. I started reading your words over a year ago…and you nailed it…I could see what was happening I wasn’t crazy; I had just decided to lie down to circumstances. And I read every post, bought your book, and I am me again….the fantastic happy carefree girl I was. I can’t thank you enough. I have passed your blog to other friends now and I watch the changes in their lives…it’s a very cool place to be now…in being me 🙂
Great post. The inside of my mind can be a very toxic environment. I have to be conscious of what I’m saying to myself because I tend to believe it and that, of course, is also the key to making it better.
Words of wisdom for me in #9 – “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done the best you could…Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it peacefully and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with old nonsense.”
Since I have been reading your publications it has been the biggest blessing I have received recently. I am a positive thinker in general, reading the info you have published only enhances the creative positive influence within me.
This is so true we all get caught up with picking out negatives instead of looking for the positives.
For example if we had a car crash and the car was in complete pieces yet we came put with a few scratches we would automatically think oh my car however, we should first be thinking I’m safe and not hurt. Imagine we were seriously injured only then we realise ‘I don’t care about my car as long as I get better’.
Negativity is in the root of all of us and it’s about being stronger and better – to turn every situation into a learning and growing experience.
These articles and books have helped me so much to become a better person, and I’m still wanting to improve.
prakash nair says
Number 4 is a great reminder to me to treat everyone with kindness, because our words may be forgiven, but may not be forgotten.
I struggled with 1 at a point in my life. It ended up making things worse in my relations with others because I attracted people I didn’t need but wanted and I was always in a constant battle with who I was inside. Thanks guys. Great post. (Yay!)
I recently overcame a battle of 10 years of estrangement with the people I loved the most. It all vanished in a day’s meeting a week ago. I feel more at peace now and I am sure they do too. Lots of negativity has been dropped from my conscious mind. 🙂
Ola Olajumoke says
There’s always something about your posts that makes them seem God-sent. Dealing with #5 at the moment. Thanks a lot and well-done. 🙂
This is very good information. I’ve had the same negative thought everyday of my life – “no one loves me” – and for the life of me I don’t know how to get rid of it. It is so automatic. I’ve tried arguing with it, saying affirmations, etc. It never quits.
Living my life with the mistake of yesterday has been my major challenge; this has really affected my progress in achieving most of my dreams. The fear of falling into the same old mistakes even when I have taken more than enough time to carefully observed and try to do thing in a different way. I am still confronted with the old mind. Kudos to you guys for your great and powerful observations here – it is time to forget the error of yesterday and embrace today with new faith.
wow #6… totally needed to see my problems trusting people from a different angle “Bottom line: Don’t let the wrong people from your past keep you from the right people in your present.”
All of these are me, now. I battle daily with everyone of these. My mind destroys me everyday. I do nothing, I say nothing, I think nothing correctly. I’m a disaster 24/7. I fail at attempts to do better. I’m in my forty’s and despise everything about myself. I will keep this article safe. I should read this over and over.
Raziuddin Shaikh says
Brilliant pointers on eliminating negativity. You are doing a great great job.
Very awesome post. I’m loving it. Kudos…
Thank you for your encouragement…may almighty God bless you much…
Great post. Working hard on letting things done yesterday go. Always questioning and the mind feeding the insecurities with negative outcomes which usually do not come true. So the energy used to imagine bad outcomes could be turned around if we learn to start disciplining the thoughts that cascade through our minds on a regular basis. Easier said than done but I am working hard to monitor the negative stuff. Thanks again!!!!!!
Thank you Marc &Angel, they all tick my list and are great reminders
Rose Costas says
Thanks for another wonderful post. I find that it is so easy to slip into negativity and self loathing especially when things doesn’t work out the way I want it to.
I have grown a lot but need to continue to grow like everyone else. I realize that negativity is a choice. Even though it is difficult I can choose to be positive.
Isaac Berglind says
Great post. I think that this post really highlighted the importance of learning to love yourself, because you need to do that if you want anyone else to like you. And learning to love yourself is one of the things that this whole self-development journey is all about.
Andrew Loader says
You have made some really good points here. My life came tumbling down in late 2012, when i did something dumb, accepting a somewhat dodgy offer by a young guy and his girlfriend. He gave me some very deliberate lies and I fell for them hook, line and sinker. The upshot was that I lost nearly every thing I own and went onto a deep depression for a year.
During the last year I have begun to learn the true value of some of the phrases you have shown here. I feel no that I am really a true survivor of my catastrophe – indeed if it had not been for my friends and family i would very clearly have been dead by now (a friend caught me trying to commit suicide at one point, pinned me against the wall and stopped me). My friends and family have been my rock through the hard times, so I will never say “I’m way too busy for my friends and family right now” – no matter how busy I am.
Both with my original dumb decision, and indeed with my suicide attempt, I proved that I am certainly capable of making mistakes. But, the thing I have managed to learn over the past year (partially thanks to some marvelous life coaching I have received) is that I am not a failure! Yes I have made bad mistakes … but so has every human being. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes we make.
The third negative thought I’d like to comment on is the “I will never forgive them”. The funny thing is, despite this young couple basically destroying my life (or at least helping me lead to its destruction, thanks to their lies) I no longer hold malice against them. In all honesty I had forgiven the young lady relatively soon after it all happened. It took a while before I could get my head in the right place to forgive the guy … but I got there in the end. Otherwise the hatred would have been seething away inside me. I had to let it go.
Thanks, really an awesome post.
I was in a similar situation to Andrew where by I lost something important a year ago. I blame myself for sure but also blame the person who took advantage of the situation I left out there….
Anyways, a year has passed and I’m trying to decide if I should try and let it go for good now….. or … before I let it go for good, send an email to this person to basically get it of my chest and perhaps let it be known how I was done wrong and how they took advantage…. suggestions anyone?
Noam Lightstone says
I think everyone has some common negative patterns they succumb to, like playing the victim, asking “Why me?”, and so on all rooted in what they’ve been through. I’m particularly bad at thoughts of things needing to be perfect.
But as you said, Marc, it’s all about awareness and not giving in.
A mentor I had was trying to explain dealing negative thoughts to me. I asked, “How do I stop letting them have so much power over me? They feel like they are just beating me down.”
He replied: “You can’t control them, but you can decide how much energy to give to them”.
A thought is alive – and with no energy, food, or fuel, it has to pass away. Give the fuel instead to positive thoughts :).
Marc Chernoff says
@Kay: Don’t lose YOU in your search for acceptance by others. Be aware that you will always appear to be a little less than some people prefer you to be, but that most people are unaware that you are so much more then what they see. You are good enough just the way you are. You have nothing to prove to anyone else. Care less about who you are to others and more about who you are to yourself.
@b: The real purpose of your life is to evolve and grow into the whole person you are capable of being. Have a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing. Change really is always possible – there is no ability that can’t be developed with experience. Don’t ever let your negative beliefs stand in the way of your own improvement.
@Andrew: You have accepted what has happened and used what you’ve learned to step forward. Everything you’ve experienced has given you the upper hand for dealing with everything you have yet to experience. Thank you for sharing your personal successes. Many of us can learn from your experience. 🙂
@Bernie: What is your ideal situation for yourself going forward? Does sending this email add value to your personal growth and progress? If not, I would let it go. Just my two cents.
@All: I am so happy to hear this article resonated with so many of you. Your positive thoughts and encouragement are always motivating. Thank you, as always.
Captain Kirk says
Thank you for this post.
Many of us can relate to number 3.
“The strongest among us aren’t those who show strength we can see, but those who have won incredible inner battles we know nothing about.”
Sometimes when people flash a smile in public, they are battling with a “silent scream” in private!
“No matter what scales we use…….we will never know the weight of another person’s burden.”
Everyone carries their own unique burdens, or is waging warfare with something inside. Therefore, we must practice love, kindness, patience, respect, and compassion with everyone.
Tr?nh Thiên Thanh says
I saw myself when reading this. Thanks for the advice on how to change!
I agree that these negative thoughts have crept into my mind and it has sometimes got the best of me. I have thought of others having it so much better of than me and that my mistakes have made me a failure but after reading your post has given me more courage to move forward and let go of the past.
I’d like to add something to to #3 “They Have It So Much Easier Than Me.”
Admittedly, I’ve said the exact opposite, “I’ve had it easier than other people, so I SHOULD be better, more successful, more anything…” I think the lesson is that when we compare ourselves to others, we never will be able to see who we already are.
Also, no matter what our present situation is, it is still our perception of the situation. We’ve got to do the work to remove our own biases to accept things for what they are, not how we perceive them to be.
Michael Gregory II says
I was actually pretty shocked how accurate it was after reading all nine of them. I think we’ve all come across a time in our life where we were challenged by those thoughts. It’s actually because of very thoughts that cause people to abandon their dreams and settle for failure.
Rocky De Gracia Jr says
I am so enlightened by this – I so hate myself for not being somebody whom I really want to and I started being so stupid to my boyfriend because he’s the one I’m really insecure of losing. I started to drive him away but now after reading this I felt like there’s a lot of catching up that I need to start with him. THANK YOU SO MUCH MARC AND ANGEL! KEEP ENLIGHTENING PEOPLE YOU GUYS DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH YOU AFFECT PEOPLE LIKE ME.
I just need an advice though, we’re in a long distance relationship cause I had to go away to finish studies and I keep getting these insecurities with him what do you think I should do?
Shannon K. Steffen says
I think your first bullet, on needing to be exactly what (we believe) others want us to believe, it the most crucial of the list.
The problem is that we are blasted by social media updates from people posting only the best of what exists in their own lives. They seem to have it all, while we sit in our house because we don’t have the money or prestige they have.
This makes people feel more less than and trying even harder to fit that perfect mold that we believe others should see us in.
We need to leave behind the ideas and thoughts of others.
Whenever I find myself in such a situation, I remind myself out-loud: “What other people think of me is none of my business. I’m perfectly me.”