You want to be positive. You want to attract all the good things in life. You want to get over all that “stuff” that holds you back. You set good intentions, but things just don’t seem to be working out the way you intended. Then, the negative thinking comes in and it all goes out the window. Trying to be positive can be so stressful!
You might start to doubt yourself and wonder if you really can have what you want. Maybe you’re just not one of those lucky people. You wonder if you’re worth it or deserve it. You start to see all your shortcomings and everything that’s wrong in your relationships, your upbringing, your circumstances—and THE WORLD! If this description is all too familiar to you, you’re not alone.
So, how do you get past the negative thoughts that zap your best intentions, make you anxious, depress your energy, and keep you stuck in stress? In this article, we’ll explore 4 steps to take back your mind and get on track with the better life you are meant to live.
Step One: Monitor Your Language
No matter where you are coming from at the moment or where you want to go, step one is to recognize, accept, and honor where you are right now. A simple way to do this is to pay attention to your thoughts—especially those thoughts and judgments that are causing you stress! However, rather than trying to think differently straight away, just get to know the thoughts that you’ve got going on already.
You can do this by monitoring your language—the words you speak and the words that go through your head—without reacting to or stressing-out about what you find. We all have a variety of thoughts that churn through our brains and leak out of our mouths. It’s O.K. You are not defined by your thoughts or your words, though they can take over your life if you’re not conscious of them.
So, step one is to become more conscious of your language. Just notice the words you speak and the words that are floating through your mental corridors. You might write these down to get a better handle on them.
Step Two: Insert a Mental Pause
As you are monitoring your language—the words in your head and the ones that come out of your mouth—stop yourself when you notice negative, judgmental, blaming, complaining language. Just stop the verbal stream for a moment and insert a mental pause. You might imagine that you’re in the game Simon Says and “Simon says freeze!”
Step Three: Come Back to Neutral
When you notice negative language and pause, you may feel the stress in your words or in the action of pausing them. That’s O.K. Just notice that. See if you can observe that tension without being swept up in it. See if you can detach from thinking those words define you or that you have to do something about them right away. See if you can come to a neutral position, where those words aren’t good or bad, they just “are” at this moment.
Taking a few slow deep breaths can help you come to neutral.
Step Four: Entertain New Possibilities
Once you’ve recognized your mental chatter, paused it, and let go of the emotional charge in those words, see if you can entertain new possibilities. Just play with them, like it’s a game.
Imagine an outcome you’d like in your current situation and ask yourself “What thoughts would support that result?” Then, play around with thinking those thoughts and putting them into words–and see how they feel. See what actions they inspire.
For example, if you’d like a new job as a writer, you might say to yourself, “I love to write. I know a lot about ‘X.’ I could write articles on ‘X’ and get paid for it.”
How does it feel when you think that way? If it feels good, what’s one action you could take to get that ball rolling?
If you notice that more negative thoughts crop up, that’s O.K. Cycle through the four steps again.
As you become familiar with these four steps and use them again and again, you’ll start to release the layers of stress that come from negative thinking and welcome the better possibilities you would like to enjoy.
Enjoy your practice!