Negative thinking results in so many, well, negative outcomes. Not only does it cause the things that we’re negatively thinking about to be more apt to come true, but it also cripples our ability to enjoy anything and drains our energy. Fortunately, all is not doom and gloom.
You have the power to overcome negative thinking. Doing so may not occur overnight, but, bit by bit, you can gradually experience more positive thinking to counterbalance the predominantly negative thinking that you currently suffer from.
Think of negative thoughts like a bucket filled with water. The bucket is the brain and the water is all of your emotions anger, joy, happiness, sadness. The negative thinking is like holes in the bucket which drains your energy. What is left is nothing more than emptiness. But there are ways to fill those holes.
I have not actually done this myself but I have heard it be an awesome way to clear your head. So, if you’re struggling because of ways that others have negatively impacted you, consider writing closure letters. You don’t need to send them, and, in some cases, you shouldn’t, but simply writing them will help you get your feelings out and start to move on from them, from what had occurred to you. When you do this, be clearheaded and sober.
Although it may prove impossible to remove all emotionality from what you’re doing, do your best to think of this person and what occurred in more rational, objective ways. But do write from your heart too. Also, consider forgiving this person if you want to, but only if you want to, and apologizing if there is a reason to do so.
Gratitude For What You Have
It’s understandable for it to be difficult to look at the positive things going on in your life when it feels like your mind is overwhelmed with negative thoughts, but do your best to. Think of the things that you are grateful for. Perhaps you have a roof over your head and enough money coming in to eat. You have a family that cares for you.
If so, be thankful for that. Having others who care for you is another reason to practice gratefulness. Simply being alive is one too. Embrace the small things as well. Do you often pass an area with beautiful greenery but had never appreciated it because you got so used to it? Now’s the time to start doing so.
Create a morning routine. This is my own routine I do each day when I wake up.
1. Drink a glass of water
2. Meditate for 5-10 min
3. Writing down three things I’m grateful for
4. Writing 5 min in my journal about one good experience in the last 24 hours.
Exercise can be a great way to overcome negative thinking. This does come with a caveat, however. You should be wary of doing too much exercise too soon as burnout will have the opposite effect.
However, exercising in a manner that you’re comfortable with and is not significantly more than you currently do can do wonders for your mood as exercise, in more cases than not, causes lower levels of anxiety and depression, deeper sleep and more relaxation. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy to increase the odds that it’ll be something that you’ll want to continue doing for the long haul, making this a long-term mood improver.
Take time for the things that you love
Make sure to set time aside for the things that you love. If you find yourself not enjoying much of anything anymore, consider revisiting things that you used to love as well as seeking out new experiences to see if something different will result in a newfound love. Note that there’s no such thing as a love that’s too small or inconsequential. If you love it, you love it.
Just like exercise, eating healthy can do so much good in helping you overcome negative thinking as your diet has a profound impact on your emotional state. Think of food for your brain like fuel for your car. You want high-quality fuel so that your car runs well.
You should want the same for your brain. Foods to avoid are processed and refined foods as well as those high in sugar. Focus on fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to help you overcome negative thinking.
Although giving to others without asking for anything in return is a selfless act, the giver does get to experience positive health benefits too. Scientifically, this act activates the mesolimbic system, which results in greater levels of self-esteem and satisfaction with life.
Note that these benefits are much more likely to be felt by those who are truly volunteering – i.e. they’re not doing so because it’s required for one reason or another.
I love taking time and being in nature. Going for a walk in a natural setting can do such good for your mental state and help you overcome negative thinking. In fact, some say that this is the absolute best thing that you can do to improve your mood.
Doing this is especially recommended if you recently experienced a traumatic life event as studies have shown that the benefits of a nature walk on those individuals are even more pronounced. When you go out into natural settings, do your best to get lost in the moment, in being surrounded by that incredible scene.
Play with your kids
If you have children like me, play with them. This will not only help you overcome negative thinking, but it will also do the same for your kids. What you decide to do with them will vary quite a bit depending on their ages and personalities, but do something that they would enjoy. In fact, consider simply asking what they would like to do, and, if there’s no reason not to, do it.
This will allow them to more thoroughly enjoy the activity while you get to enjoy the benefits of selflessness combined with doing something that may be a new experience for you or, even if it’s not, something that’s still enjoyable for you.