Countering Negative Thoughts

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Today we’re countering the negative thoughts that can derail your attempts at success.

Whether changing careers or fixing health issues, it’s good to move forward with a positive attitude. A negative mindset holds you back from reaching your true potential.

But it doesn’t have to!

I have tips for shifting out of negative thinking, as well as maintaining your new attitude. Let’s get started.

Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.

My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.

It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life. You want a quality long life.

My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here.

How To Fight Negativity

Be Positive
Be Positive

One of the biggest barriers to success is negativity.

So let’s look at the definition of negativity first: (n) “the expression of criticism of or pessimism about something

Well these days, that sounds like everyone.

Is it possible that we’re all negative people?

Maybe? During the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak, people were more scared than negative.

As government tried to implement measures to stop people from getting sick, it devolved from scared to mass negativity and entitlement.

Sigh.

So what can we do to stay positive in an increasingly negative world?

Well I’m glad that you asked! I have multiple tips and hacks for shifting a negative mindset into a positive one.

5 Ways To Stop Negative Thinking Patterns

Driving away negative thoughts requires dedication, but it’s worth the time and effort. For most of the tips presented here today, you have to do them more than once.

For example, it’s a good idea to journal, at least weekly for 2 months, on what you are grateful for. Trust me, this helps a lot.

Use these tips to systematically start to shift your thinking:

Never Let Fear Decide
Fear Makes Bad Decisions! Watch Out!

Admit you have a problem.

If you think that negativity is starting to take over your life, admit it. Admitting it is half the battle.

Then start really paying attention to what you say to others. Or if you are falling into “negativity traps” when the group conversation turns south.

One helpful way to gauge your level of negativity is to create a chart with two sides.

  • On the left side, write down all you positive thoughts that day.
  • For the right side, write down all your negative thoughts.

You’ll be amazed by how much negativity the average person keeps in their head.

Practice Gratitude.

Gratitude fixes a lot of problems that people have when reaching for success. Nothing will help you to see the path that you should be on quite like gratitude.

I thought it was BS, but I bought The Magic by Rhonda Byrne and the companion gratitude journal and tested it for 30 days.

It was amazingly helpful for my attitude.

There is something magical about being grateful! Go read the reviews for the book and see what everyone else thinks about it.

Make a list of all the things you’re grateful for and keep adding to it.

Having trouble coming up with a list?

Start with all the things in your life that you may take for granted:

  • A roof over your head (if you have one)
  • Clean drinking water (if you have that)
  • Family and friends
  • A job that pays you to be there
  • Money (from that job maybe?)
  • Your body and all the amazing things it can do!

Gratitude makes everything better.

If you’re not used to thinking about what you are grateful for, consider buying a notebook and keep adding everything you’re grateful for.

Once your start writing your list out, you will find that it snowballs and fills your mind with positivity.

Find A Positive Friend.

This might be a challenge, but I urge you to find a supportive, positive “mentor”. Perhaps set a a goal to find one or more people that you can be inspired by.

You want a friend, family member, therapist, or helpful ear to listen to your problems without judgement, and without recommendation (unless you want it).

You can also pray, journal, or craft an art project around your feelings.

Once they’re out there, you’ll find yourself strangely (perhaps magically is a better word) unburdened of negative thinking.

Choose Your Words Carefully.

Eliminate negative phrases and words from your lexicon, and watch your thoughts change as well.

Most people are shocked to discover how often they say negative things automatically.

It’s a bad habit that can be changed quickly once you are aware of it.

You should also take note of your body language and posture.

Avoid slouching, and actively work on smiling more.

Most people think they’re happy, but walk around scowling (guilty!). Practice smiling like you just won the lottery.

Go For A Walk.

Getting your body moving is great for changing your mood and your thoughts. You can just take a walk, do some jumping jacks, or dance.

That’s right…dance.

Try turning on your favorite music and moving and grooving for a few minutes; see if you’re feeling negative afterward.

countering negative thoughts
PIN IT!! Countering Negative Thoughts

5 Ways to Declutter Your Mind

When it comes to de-cluttering your home, there’s a simple solution…have a yard sale.

Yet, when it comes to de-cluttering your mind, it’s not quite the same. But you can have great results using the following hacks:

1. Practice mindfulness.

Meditating in the park
Try meditating in the park on a nice day

Mindfulness is all about engaging with the present in a fully, alive way.

There are lots of ways to practice the skill of mindfulness, from meditation to just staring at an object (like a candle) and contemplating its existence.

Mindfulness will help you learn how to push relevant concerns out of your conscious thought process, leading to increased concentration and a de-cluttered mind.

2. Let go.

Sometimes it’s best to let old memories die.

From broken relationships to diabolical bosses, we tend to have a whole lot of backstory spinning in the back of our mind.

You never really forget anything, but there’s no reason to linger over unpleasant situations that are in the past.

Instead, write out some goals for what you want your future to be.

Try a Vision Board full of photos of what you want to have in your life.

Let go of thoughts that do not serve you or your vision of the future. Write out you sad thoughts and burn them. Or use your paper shredder.

Just stop letting them ruin your present or future.

3. De-clutter your space.

We are what we… see?

Clutter has a way of cluttering up our thoughts. Maybe because it reminds of us things we need to do?

In any case, removing clutter, putting things away, or creating a donate box of stuff to give away has the effect of freeing us from it.

My favorite guru of tidying up is Dana K White, author of “How To Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind” (fun title, yes?).

Dana encouraged me to tackle my closet, which had been bothering me forever. Now it’s done, plus lots more. Yay.

Check out this video on how to remove clutter efficiently:

4. De-clutter your schedule.

Another thing that can drive us crazy is the constant rush from one activity to another.

Take a look at your schedule and:

  • Figure out what’s most important
  • Start eliminating things that aren’t necessary.
  • Ditch “busy” work (unnecessary tasks that waste time)
  • Say “no” more often
  • Monitor recurring items to see if they’re still effective/useful.
  • See if you can merge similar tasks.
  • Create a group car-pool for your kids extra-curriculars so you only have to drive one week out of 5 (or so).

5. Put your phone away

Stopping and then restarting tasks because of a notification on your mobile device wastes time and causes us to switch out of productivity.

The only thing that can multi-task effectively is a computer.

For humans, we waste more time switching our thinking back and forth between tasks. It’s also more stressful because we have to constantly re-check our work to see if we got everything.

The pings, dings, and rings from various contacts, along with the thrill of finding a new message are all adding small but unhealthy doses of stress to your day.

6 Defense Mechanisms You Don’t Even Know That You’re Using

We use defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from the anxiety of having feelings that we can’t deal with.

Of course the obvious answer is to deal with them! But that’s not always practical.

And in some cases, like grief, it’s going to take time.

Check this list of defense mechanisms to see if you might have something to work on:

Denial:

Not just a river in Egypt.

Sometimes  an event or circumstance is so cataclysmic, we tune it out because we cannot cope with thinking about it.

We may not be aware we are doing this.

When my dad passed and I changed cities and jobs, I had so much stress that I couldn’t figure out where to start first.

It took several years to work my way through multiple areas of grief (loss of my dad, loss of my home, friends, and co-workers).

I was a mess of anxiety, depression, grief, negativity and denial.

And unfortunately, my new friends weren’t comfortable being honest with me about my attitude, so it took longer to fix.

Because you can’t fix what you’re not aware of.

You can become aware of your denial when other people around you call something to your attention.

Again, try to find one supportive, positive thinking person that will be honest with you.

Repression:

This is sort of like denial, but it involves burying a thought of feeling deep inside, where it tends to come out in other ways.

For example, you could be furious at your boss, and unable to release your anger at work, become vitriolic and argumentative at home.

Projection:

Fear
The Fear may not be real…

It’s often easier to ignore our own faults, and pretend like other people have them instead.

Projection involves seeing something bad in other people, which may or may not be there (like a negative character trait) when really, you are exhibiting that same trait. #uhoh.

Rationalization:

This one involves taking a wrongdoing (by you on others, or from others onto you) and reasoning it out to be okay.

You’ll have to create a complex new system of logic in order to work this one into the universe in an acceptable way.

But all sorts of crime from embezzlement to genocide have been rationalized as acceptable.

Regression:

Regression basically involves taking a step back developmentally, to a space where it’s physically or emotionally safe.

Children often regress as they move through life, going through periods where they revert to acting like a younger child.

Adults may also undergo this process.

For example, after getting fired from a job, you may revert to the safety net of looking for a comparably paying job, instead of searching for something better.

Reaction:

Sometimes the primal instincts take over, and we get ready to fight.

In situations that don’t have a lot of time around them, you can quickly jump into a reactionary mood before reflecting and calming down.

For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic, you could step into a mode of road rage.

Or, if someone argues with you at work, you could quickly defend yourself by escalating the situation into a shouting match.

7 Ways to Start Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior

Self-defeating behaviors are what happens when we get “stuck” in dealing with life’s problems.

When I was over-loaded with stress from grief and moving, we started eating fast food or packaged processed food for many meals. I just couldn’t cope with making a shopping list and preparing food.

I felt pretty good that we ate at home…even if it was takeout.

As I worked through my issues, I realized that I come from a family of negative thinkers and blamers, so I daily work on this.

Dream Big Set Goals Take Action
Dream Big Set Goals Take Action

I am not going to allow negativity to be part of my legacy to my family.

I suggest taking a look at this list to see if any are familiar to you.

Many people have more than one of these behaviors, so if that is you, take baby steps. Don’t try to fix everything in one day.

Set a goal to work on one issue. That will undoubtedly bring up more to fix, so be kind to yourself during the process.

Here are a few ways to stop self-defeating behavior:

Let go of winning.

Admit when it is time to give up and let go.

I think that, as children, we had motivation to win…always. Who wants to be on the losing team? Not I.

And who doesn’t want to be picked or picked last because we aren’t good at sports? No one.

And yet kids who aren’t good at sports are forced to compete at things they can’t win. So we develop a desire to win at the unwinnable.

But there are times when we must give up because pursuing the unwinnable is a huge waste of time. Pick your battles and fight when it’s worth it.

Stop trying to please everyone anyone.

There will always be someone who thinks that you need to do it differently/for longer/for less time etc.

You may know who that person is. Or you may be surprised by a passive-aggressive comment that makes you want to start over.

STOP.

You cannot make everyone happy all of the time.

Rushing around and trying to make other people happy is a huge cause of self-defeating behavior.

Whether you’re doing it at work or in your personal relationships, trying to make everyone happy all the time can cost you your health and peace of mind.

Accept imperfection.

In fact, embrace the uniqueness of you. Other people have. Some people were attracted to you specifically because you are you.

If you seek perfection, you will never find completion.

Imperfection is part of being human, and most of the time, you’re the only one who will notice your mistakes anyway.

Eliminate bad habits.

These days, most people have bad habits that relate to technology, like obsessively checking our email or social media accounts.

Take stock of how you spend your time.

Make a detailed log of the minutes and hours, and see how much time you might be wasting with various pursuits.

Overcome fear.

Fear is something that holds most people back from living a higher purpose.

Yet it is the people who fight through their fear who live the most rewarding and victorious lives!

You can’t fly if you don’t jump, and you can’t jump if you’re afraid.

Make a list of things that you want to do but are afraid to do.

Try to figure out what the underlying fear is and then seek out help to get past it. You will be glad that you did.

A helpful book for anyone who wants to fight their own fears is The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown.

The book encourages you to let go of who you think you should be and embrace who you really are. This is very freeing. There is also a companion workbook available to help you sort things out (I love workbooks!).

Don’t be a loner.

Everybody needs help sometimes.

Don’t be ashamed to ask for help when you need it, because a severe, self-imposed sense of independence could actually be doing you more harm than good.

Whether it’s in business or personal life, make friends, accept help, and seek help when it’s needed.

Drop your guilt.

Work to forgive yourself for past mistakes.

When thoughts of your past blunders crop up, remind yourself that you did the best that you could at the time.

People can change and grow, so you don’t have to let your past hold you back.

6 Tips for Finding Optimism

Optimism…it’s a four syllable word that can be harder to find than diamonds in South Africa.

But believe it or not, you too can tap into the earth of your surroundings and dig up a rich store of feel-good.

Here are six ways to do that.

Find laughter.

These days, it isn’t hard to find.

Check out Youtube and social media for memes, videos, vines, and more to get you crackalackin.

You could also rent a funny movie, watch stand up comedy, or hangout with funny people.

Laughter will lead you to smiling, and smiling will lead you to feeling good.

Practice smiling, even when you are alone.

smiling
Practice smiling

It’s hard to believe that smiling can improve your mood, but studies have linked outward acts of happiness to an internal shift.

The physical act of smiling causes our brain to shift and we feel happier.

Practice looking in the mirror and smiling, even it if feels cheesy, stupid, and inauthentic.

Hold your smile for a minute, two minutes, five minutes…see how long you can go.

Start the day off with a smile, and make a conscious effort to smile more.

Use positive words.

Studies have shown and confirmed what spiritual traditions have long held regarding the power of the tongue: words can literally shape the reality around us.

If you want to build a more positive vibe, try using more positive words.

  • Say something nice to a stranger.
  • Compliment a co-worker
  • Find the positive angle in a group discussion
  • Eliminate negative talk about yourself, and others as well.

Find positive people.

The impact of those we hang out with is enormous.

Avoid negative influences and people who bring your down with complaining and criticism.

Misery loves company, the old adage goes, and these people will quickly bring you into a downward spiral.

Find friends who are upbeat, positive, and happy, and their resilience and optimism will pass on to you.

Stay healthy.

If you’re feeling tired and sick, it’s easy to get irritable and negative.

By contrast, try maintaining a lifestyle of healthy choices that can maximize your energy levels and build you up.

It’s easier to be upbeat and happy when you feel good inside and out.

Get spiritual and/or actualized.

Most spiritual traditions promote a positive outlook on life.

If you’re not so into organized religion, find something that can provide a positive outlet for you, like exercise, music, art, or reading.

Or head over to YouTube and watch videos on positive thinking. Get that vibe and then go out and spread it around. Sharing is caring!

Just like using positive words can turn our perspective around, filling our hearts and minds with good stuff will help optimism come easier.

Conclusion

Something I read about long ago is the “joy ladder”. How it works is that you dig into your brain for a good feeling and then feel it for as long as you can.

Maybe it was winning the 5th grade spelling bee. Maybe it was the birth of a child. Maybe someone said “I love you”.

Find the feeling and just feel it. This is the first rung on the ladder.

Then find another good feeling. When you stop feeling the first feeling, grab another one and stack your happy.

ladder
climb the joy ladder

Each happy feeling is a rung on the ladder you are trying to climb.

The higher you climb, the more positive your outlook becomes and stays.

When you are bummed or confused about your path, climb the ladder. It helps. Really.

It took me a while to train myself to feel these good feelings for longer than 1 or 2 seconds, but the longer you hold the good feelings, the longer they last.

Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.

Please share this post with anyone who can benefit from it. Sharing is caring!

And follow me on Pinterest!

Until next time, here’s to our health!

-Irma

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