The primary reason to let go of negative thoughts is to help you enjoy life, both mentally and physically. This includes greater confidence, a higher self-esteem, more energy and satisfying social interactions, among other things.
Yes, you can…
Negative thinking can have a strong and sometimes devastating impact on all aspects of your life.
Negative thoughts not only affect you mentally, but physically as well. For example, in 2013, researchers at the Florida State University College of Medicine found that teenagers whose weight was normal but who thought that they were overweight were more likely to become obese later in life.
Are you guilty of negative “self-talk”?
- Frequently blame yourself when something bad happens?
- Automatically anticipate the worst in a situation?
- See things only as good or bad (nothing in between)? For example, you feel that you have to be perfect otherwise you’re a total failure.
- Automatically expect the worst?
- Magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all the positive ones?
- Constantly fret about your health deteriorating, your relationship going downhill, your car breaking down or your career being ruined – although nothing has happened yet?
- Focus on your weaknesses and imaginary flaws and extend this constant criticism to others?
- Dwell on past mistakes without learning from them and moving on?
- Obsess over everything that you “need” to make you happy?
This kind of repeated negative-thinking has an immediate, destructive impact on your life because the moment you’ve a negative thought, it could’ve already:
- Clouded your vision,
- Led to low self-esteem
- Affected the way you interact with the world – and yourself
- Hindered you from achieving something you want
- Made you feel frustrated, anxious, sad, jealous, depressed or angry.
Low self-esteem can make you both verbally and physically aggressive towards others. Negative thinking can make you feel helpless when faced with stressful situations and prevent you from coping with stress in general, thus creating more stress. Negative thinking has also been shown to cause high blood pressure and even cancer.
Practise positive “self-talk”
- Recognise negative thought patterns and put a positive spin on them. For example, laughing and making light of a negative situation will help change your perspective.
- Become a curious observer of those unspoken words inside your head. As an impartial witness, you won’t take your negative thoughts too seriously.
- Adopt a better lifestyle. Start eating healthier and exercising at least three times a week.
- Surround yourself with people who are positive and supportive.
- Become aware of your present environment. Don’t get into a mental dialogue about what you see, just be aware of what you’re experiencing at the moment. If you’re walking, be aware of the swishing of your clothes or the feel of the floor under your feet, if you’re eating, be aware of the flavours and textures of your food. While functioning in the present, the past and future have no power over you.
- Periodically stop and evaluate what you’re thinking and choose to think constructively instead of destructively.
With a little practise, you can break free from negativity and cultivate inner peace and happiness.