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