Does negative thinking stop you from living the life of your dreams? While a little pessimism can be a good thing because it keeps you from jumping with no parachute, too much can keep you safely on the ground, not allowing you to follow your heart.
Neuroscience tells us whether or not you are a positive thinker or a negative one boils down to habit. It also shows us that those thoughts are processed differently in the brain.
The left pre-frontal cortex located right above your left eye and is active when we are experiencing positive thoughts. The right pre-frontal cortex above the right eye is active when we are thinking negatively.
The good news, if you are a negative thinker, is through practice, you can quieten your negative brain and teach your positive brain to become more dominant.
If you are willing to challenge your self-talk, then the following six suggestions can get you rolling in the right direction.
Acknowledge your thoughts.
First, begin to recognize when your thoughts are negative and turning you into a victim. Listen carefully to what you are thinking as well as to what you are saying to others.
Simply becoming aware of your negativity allows you to begin replacing it with more positive and empowering thoughts.
Listen for phrases of blame that cause you to feel helpless.
The following is a list of common phrases heard in the blame stage.
- I can’t
- This will never work
- Things like this always happens to me
- Nothing good ever happens
- Life is unfair
- I should, but
- If only
- You make me so
If you will notice the one commonality these statements have are an implication that the individual saying them is somehow a passive player in all that happens to them. The price a person stuck in the blame stage pays is that they are always at the mercy of outside forces. They fail to realize their personal power to challenge these statements and put them to the test. Instead, they accept them blindly as truth.
Question your negative thoughts.
Once you have recognized your negative thoughts, you will need to question them instead of accepting them. The next time you hear yourself saying, “I can’t,” ask yourself, “But what if I could?” This simple question will begin the process of redirecting your thoughts to possibilities and away from impossibilities.
When things in your life don’t turn out the way you hoped they would notice what you are saying to yourself. If you are telling yourself, “This is terrible.” Then you are asking, “Why?” ”Why me?” or “Why did this have to happen?”
Try a new question. Why almost always leads to feeling hopeless because it is grounded in dealing with something in the past and out of your immediate control. Instead, try asking how or what. “How can I turn this around?” or “What can I learn from this so as to avoid making the same mistake in the future?”
If you are giving yourself the excuse such as, “I don’t have enough time.” Question your assumption by asking, “If this was a matter of life and death to me, and I had to find the time, where would I find it? What part of my schedule could I rearrange to make the time I need?”
Challenge your negative thoughts.
Put your limiting thoughts to the test. Remind yourself of how many things that once seemed impossible are now a part of our world. Smartphones, space travel, televisions, and a myriad of other inventions we enjoy today were once thought impossible by most. What was needed were a few people who refused to accept limitations as their truth and instead would challenge those beliefs by putting them to the test.
Most of our limitations are self-imposed. We believe our thoughts as if they are reflecting the truth. In doing so, we create our reality. The next time you have a negative thought remind yourself that although the thought may be true, you will never know until you put it to the test.
Remember when you were a little kid learning to ride a bike? You probably said a few times, “I can’t do this,” or “I’m scared.” Odds are you fell over a few times and scuffed your knee and elbows. Did you let that stop you? No, you got back on that two-wheel machine, learned from your mistakes and tried again. All the while building a powerful reference for what is possible in your life.
Learning new skills today is just like learning to ride a bike when you were younger. You just have to question your assumptions, get back on and try again.
Be open to new possibilities.
If someone asks me how they can get more done, I suggest they get up an hour earlier. I then explain how this one act can change their lives for the positive in numerous ways. Usually, the response I receive is not “Wow! I will give it a try,” but rather a tight-lipped smile followed by the nodding of their head.
Next, they proceed to tell me how it will never work for them because they are not a morning person. They say “I’m not a morning person,” like that is a particular breed of individuals. There is no such thing as a morning person, just as there is no such thing as an afternoon person. There is only you and what you decide to be. If you don’t identify with the possibility of being someone who rises early in the morning, then you will struggle with this idea. However, if you are willing to entertain the thought of getting out of bed with the sunrise, then this new possibility can become your new reality.
This idea applies to any other change you may wish to make in your life. By proclaiming that something is impossible and then supporting that proclamation with an excuse, you keep yourself in the blame stage.
Being more intentional with your life requires that you are willing to let go of your preconceived notions about what is and isn’t possible in your life. A smoker must be ready to let go of the idea that they are a smoker and just recognize that they are a person who chooses to smoke. The distinction may seem small, but in reality, it is enormous. If you are a smoker, then you have no choice but to smoke. However, by becoming aware and admitting that smoking is a choice, then you can learn to make the choice not to smoke.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of sitting quietly while focusing your thoughts on a single word or your breathing. It doesn’t require any special skills or a lot of time. In fact, you can receive its benefits from just a few minutes a day.
To begin, try to clear your head of all thoughts and focus on you breathing. Tell yourself, “As I breathe in, and as I breathe out I am breathing in positivity and love.” Repeat this over and over again as you breathe in fully.
At some point, your thoughts will probably begin to drift off on some tangent. This is natural. The point here is to catch yourself when you do and redirect them back to your breathing. Don’t get discouraged. Meditation is not about having an empty mind. It is about learning to focus your thoughts in the direction of your choosing.
Becoming a positive thinker takes time. The good news is the more you practice, the better you will get. Commit to the six steps above, and in thirty days you will be amazed at how much more positive your thinking will have become.
Question: What benefits do you think you will receive by being a more positive thinker? You can leave a comment by clicking here.