Why not? Conquer negativity and start 2021 on a positive note (here’s how)
2 years, 9 months ago Posted in: Blog 0

What can we do to conquer negativity and start the next year on a positive note? We all know that constant negativity can get in the way of happiness, add to our stress and worry level, and ultimately damage our health. Some people are more prone to negative thinking than others.

So, here’s an uplifting New Year’s challenge for your mind and soul! Make this the year that you quiet all those negative thoughts swirling around your brain. Recall how you’ve risen to many challenges over the last year. You can take your experience and wisdom into this welcome new one.

Rick Hanson, a psychologist and senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, said, “We were built to overlearn from negative experiences, but under-learn from positive ones.” With practice, you can learn to disrupt and tame any negative thoughts.

Here are four steps that can help you quiet those thoughts and lean into positivity:

1. When negative thoughts appear, don’t try to stop them.
If you find yourself obsessing about being rejected for a job opportunity or how to help a struggling family member, don’t tell yourself, “I have to stop thinking about this.” Stress and obsession make it worse when you try to control your thoughts. Instead, tell yourself that you are obsessing about the job opportunity or family member. When you acknowledge and accept your negative thoughts, you are on your way to taming them.

2. After you’ve accepted a negative thought, challenge it with self-questions.
For example, take that rejection for a job interview. You might be worried about the quality of your resume and how the interview might have turned out better, obsessing on what you could have done and beating yourself up. Ask yourself, “Why would one rejection mean that I’m not worthy of being hired?” Or, “There are more job opportunities out there. When hired before, what worked well in demonstrating my distinctive abilities?” Imagine that your friend is the one who received the rejection. What advice would you give him or her? Now think of how that advice might apply to you.

3. Move from inaction to action to counteract the negative thought.
Ask yourself if you are accomplishing anything by dwelling on your negative thoughts, then move into action! If you are worried about feeling unworthy or helpless in supporting a struggling family member, check-in with friends and family members who know and love you. If you feel insecure about getting hired, make a list of your strengths and accomplishments. You can ask a close friend or family member to write you a letter that expresses how you are an influential, kind, and competent person. Reread the letter daily.

4. Practice controlled breathing, which can help lower your stress response and calm anxious thoughts.
When your negative thoughts make you feel agitated and overwhelmed, take a deep breath, and then another. Controlled breathing helps bring more oxygen to your brain and supports eliminating stress. Breath through your nose to the count of 4, then hold your breath for 16 seconds. Then breath out through your mouth to the count of 8. Practice this method ten times in a row.

If your thoughts make you feel seriously distressed and interfere with your ability to work and relax, consider seeing a mental health professional. You might want to talk with a professional about the root cause of your negative thinking patterns and help you with practical ways to cope with persistent and unwanted thoughts, which may help.

Conquer negativity in 2021 by practicing being kind to yourself this year. Think of how you would soothe a close friend who is plagued by negative thoughts. Then, apply this to yourself.

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