Our thoughts control almost everything we do or don’t do in life. Research indicates that on average, most adults have anywhere between 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Depending on your upbringing and your environment, your thoughts will either empower or disempower you.
Most of us were exposed or conditioned negatively in some way or another. If those who were responsible for raising us had a negative outlook on life, then the chances are that we were also programmed to have a negative outlook on life.
It is quite interesting that most of the things we have negative thoughts toward like worry, anxiety or fear about something, very rarely comes true. And even if any of our concerns do end up coming true, then most times we’re able to handle the situation better than we thought we could.
The thing to recognise is that having negative thoughts is not our fault because negativity is all around us. Just consider the news you may watch on TV or listen to on the radio — the majority of it will be negative. We’ve been socially, culturally and environmentally programmed to be negative however it is our responsibility to do something about it, if we’re not happy with our results or the quality of our life.
If we’re not consciously doing things to get ourselves into a positive frame of mind each day, then the chances are we’ll not be as effective or productive as we can be plus it will also affect our confidence. Here are seven things you can do to get yourself mentally strong each day and avoid getting caught up with things that really do not matter.
- Start each day with empowering rituals. The best start to a day is one which we are most familiar with. Having a routine or a set of rituals each day eliminates the need to use up valuable energy deciding what to do or how to start your day. Rituals may include drinking a certain amount of water as soon as you wake up, doing something physical to get your body engaged, reading for 15 or 20 minutes, meditating for 15 minutes, visualising how you want your day to be unfold, or having a healthy breakfast. Rituals make it easier for us to get ready for our day which ultimately means we’ll be in a positive frame of mind.
- Avoid negative conversations. There are people who love to dwell on things that are irrelevant and unimportant, plus there are others who love focusing on negative things. Negative conversations such as gossiping, complaining or speculating do not serve us at all so we must be on guard at all times. Negative conversations brings our energy down because they can be mentally draining. There are two things I do personally to avoid negative conversations. First, if I get the sense that a particular conversation is neither valuable nor productive, I will excuse myself and leave the conversation. Secondly, I will put my phone ear plugs in and block out the conversation. While that may appear to be rude, and since we are responsible for the results we produce, we must take the necessary actions to help us achieve the results we want.
- Welcome any negative thoughts. Let’s face it — we all have negative thoughts! As much as we can try to be positive, negative thoughts will creep it. Rather than try and push away any negative thoughts or pretend you do not have them, instead it is better to welcome those thoughts. There is a saying, “What you resist, persists!” which means that the more we try and push away a negative thought, the longer it is going to linger. By welcoming those negative thoughts, we will be able to take away its intensity or power and allow it to move through us. This is why learning techniques to release negative emotions is such an important skill to have.
- Examine the source of your thoughts. We all habitually think in a certain way — our thoughts are either predominantly positive or negative. While some of those thoughts are related to our environment, the majority of our thoughts are due to our experiences in life, especially in our early life. This is why we may believe something to be either true or false but not know where that belief originated from. By getting in touch with the source of our thoughts, more specifically, our beliefs, we’ll be able to determine whether those beliefs are serving us or not. If they are not giving us the results we want, we can choose to adopt new thoughts and new beliefs.
- See a situation for what it is. Not everything in life goes to plan. There will be things that happen unexpectedly which can take us off course if we allow them to. When something happens that could be deemed to be negative, it is important to see the situation for what it is, not worse than it is. If we’re habitually programmed to think negative thoughts, then we may make a situation out to be more serious or worse than it really is. Something that can be done in such situations is to evaluate the situation from different perspectives. A simple question that can be asked is, What’s good about this situation?
- Shift your focus to something or someone else. Oftentimes, we can get so caught up in our own story or agenda that we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to focus on something different. One way to shift our focus from our issues or problems is to help someone else. When we start to serve others, not only do we enjoy the feeling of making a difference in someone else’s life, we also start to realise that our problems or issues are not as big as we make them out to be. There are others in the world who are dealing with bigger challenges than us, so helping others puts things into perspective. Things are not too bad after all.
- Cultivate positive or empowering thoughts. One technique I have learned is to take a piece of paper (or a journal) and draw a vertical line right down the middle of the page. On the left column, write down any negative thoughts you may have, whether it is in general or whether it is with respect to a goal you want to achieve. Take as long as you need until you feel you have captured all your negative thoughts. Now, on the right column, write down the polar opposite of those negative thoughts. In other words, you are reframing them into positive thoughts. For example, if one of your thoughts is I don’t know how to achieve my goal then the opposite statement could be I am in the process attracting all the resources I need to achieve my goal. These new positive and empowering statements can be something you read daily until you are programmed to think thoughts that will move you forward toward what you want.
Even though negativity is all around us, we don’t have to get caught up in it, which can bring our energy down. We are ultimately responsible for how we think and how we behave and these steps should support you in being mentally strong each day and get things done.
Question: What is something you have done to prevent negative thoughts from reducing your effectiveness or productivity?
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