Almost everyone experiences an occasional negative thought. In fact, a negative thought probably crosses your mind more often than you realize. It is said that the average person’s brain has some 60,000 thoughts per day. Maybe more. And, unfortunately, many of these thoughts are negative.
Negativity drags you down
Think for a moment about the last time you had a negative thought. Call to mind what happened to you when you re-visited this negative thought. How did it make you feel? For me, negativity drags me down. It makes me feel heavy. It drains my energy. And, regrettably, that feeling is contagious. So infectious, that it has the capability of spreading like a wildfire catching on to dry, brittle grassland.
Junk food fix
How do we deal with this overwhelming barrage of negative thoughts? The first step is to acknowledge that they exist. Begin to notice. Catch yourself in the act of a negative thought. Notice that negative notion, just as you would notice your desire to reach for an unhealthy snack. Negative thoughts are much like a junk food fix. Splurging just kind of happens¾and then later you may feel disappointed or even sick from eating something not very good for you. Just as an unfavorable food can create a stomachache, a negative thought can makes us feel equally unsettled.
Treadmill of pessimism
Unfortunately, one downtrodden thought can feed the next, keeping us on a non-stop treadmill of pessimism. These unwanted thoughts seem to turn up like an unexpected guest, and tend to linger on. Sometimes getting caught up in a negative mood feels almost easier. If a lazy, glazed-over kind of trance is keeping you fixed in a space of gloom and doom¾then muster up the energy to say, “enough is enough, it’s time to move on.” **
Freedom in choice
How do you move forward? Realize that YOU have a choice. No matter what your life circumstances may currently be¾you are the only person who chooses your own thoughts. Even prisoners are free to choose their own thoughts, so that they can feel peace and happiness under any condition. You are free to choose another thought.
It swings both ways
The good news is¾ although a negative thought is contagious; the same is true of a positive thought. A positive outlook anticipates happiness, joy and good health. Think of someone you know who is a positive person. Think about how they are fun to be around; they lift your spirits and make you feel good. Look to spend your time with positive people. Their way of being is catching. Have you ever noticed that when you are with a negative person you tend to feel tired or cranky? Noticing this feeling is the first step. The second step is to begin to place your time and energy with the people who bring out the best in you. And, if you aren’t already, you will soon become one of those positive people that attract supportive and encouraging friends.
How do we get positive?
We all want to have positive thoughts, but how do we go about getting them? It can take some dedication and practice. But, like anything worth working for, the benefits pay off in huge repercussions. And, this new way of thinking can last for your lifetime.
Try these tips:
- Awareness. This is key. Start from a place of becoming aware of your negative thoughts.
- Positive thoughts. These are powerful. They create a magnet; they are like a mirror and attract what it is you want to see in yourself.
- Affirmations (a declaration that something is true). Use affirmations to make a positive mental picture with your thoughts and words.
- Creative self-expression. Find out what’s on your mind through tools such as journaling.
- Contagious positive vibes. Spend time with positive people.
Start small, take it one thought at a time, and dedicate your energy to being positive!
Beth wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Sleep Disorders.