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Have you ever felt that something is stopping you from fulfilling your true potential in life, as if some invisible hand was working against your and keeping your from being successful?
Then you’ve been under the influence of negative thoughts.
Overcoming negative thoughts is a challenge that most of us will face at some point in our life.
Limiting beliefs are symptoms of unconscious patterns of thinking that most of us usually acquire at some point in our youth.
They are a complicated amalgam of different beliefs that most of us have formed about our character and personality over time. And include our attitude to other people and the world around us.
We Are What We Think
Once you’re able to identify and recognise the limiting beliefs that you actively possess, you can start taking control of your thoughts. Then you can start replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
Despite contrary opinion, we really are in command of our own thoughts: we choose the thoughts that we allow our minds to entertain.
Thoughts come to life in the world through the actions and behaviours they inform. And so it’s vital to become conscious of these processes to cultivate the right thoughts on a regular basis.
The problem isn’t necessarily having negative thoughts in and of themselves, it’s that we take them as gospel and reality. And it’s easy to forget that these are simply thoughts of our own creation.
The good news is that arriving at a place where negative thoughts will be under your control isn’t as hard as you might think.
Taking Back Control
It’s very common for people to manifest “tells” or symptoms of the onset in their behaviour that signal the influence of negative thinking, even before we realise what’s happening.
Think about some of your less beneficial habits that sometimes seem to manifest themselves more frequently when you’re feeling bad.
Do you binge on food?
Do you start to fidget?
Do you chain smoke or drink alcohol in excess?
Once you’ve identified these behaviours and their connection to negative thoughts, you’ll be better equipped to intercept negative thought and stay in control of your thinking.
Remember, your thoughts influence your actions, so by incubating positive thinking you’ll be more likely to live positively.
By the same token, you’ll be able to analyse any experience in a negative or positive way, and you have the choice on the thinking you want to encourage.
Here are some effective methods for keeping your outlook positive that anyone can use to improve their outlook and break down the limits they may have artificially ascribed to themselves and their situation.
1. Cultivate Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations can seem trite or outdated to the more cynical amongst us, but they represent a crucial tool in our mental arsenals for counteracting bad thoughts.
Verbalising and affirmation (e.g. “I am in control of my life”) helps bring the sentiment from inside our heads and into the real world, making its meaning more tangible.
Formulate some affirmations that are special to your situation and address your most frequently entertained negative thoughts directly.
Come up with some to say at the beginning of everyday, preferably in front of a mirror to help strengthen them in your mind.
If, in the course of the day, you feel negative thoughts creeping into your mind, repeat an appropriate affirmation aloud to yourself.
If you do this consistently for a sufficient duration of time, you’ll find that the bonds of negative thinking begin to break down as they become replaced with positivity.
2. Commit Your Negative Thoughts to Paper
We often have a tendency to put a stopper on our feelings and push thoughts down without expressing them.
If you’re not yet ready to discuss certain feelings or thoughts with others, maintaining a journal can be a great way to articulate your emotions better.
Try and be as specific as possible.
What are the emotions that are proving the most harmful to your ability to effectively live and enjoy your life, and what changes do you need to make to successfully overcome these challenges?
You can either keep these writings for posterity, or, as many people choose to do, discard or destroy them as a symbol of your determination to rid them from your consciousness.
This may sound grandiose, but it can actually be surprisingly effective.
Writing down negative thoughts allows you to bear witness to them, the better to get them under your control.
It can also be instrumental in helping you realise that negative thoughts aren’t who you are as a person and merely one of the many products of your mind, and that they can be separated and extricated from you as a person.
3. Keep Your Social Circle Positive
No person is an island, and the truth is that the people you surround yourself with wield a massive influence over your personal development.
If you spend your time in the company of people who are given over to negative thought, you’re going to absorb these behaviours.
Heightened negativity can often manifest itself as increased stress and poorer health.
Surrounding yourself with negative people, therefore, makes it very difficult to maintain positive thinking.
It’s difficult, but sometimes it’s worth asking yourself whether your friends are making you happy or dragging down your mood.
If it’s the latter, you owe it to your sanity and your well being to find some new friends.
Jealousy, envy, gossiping, emotional manipulation and overly fatalistic outlooks are all warning signs that a friendship may not be conducive to your best interests.
Solid, trustworthy and positive people, on the other hand, can help push you to success and self-improvement and lift your spirits when you might be feeling negative.
4. Don’t Act Like a Victim
It can be tempting to assume feelings of victimhood when bad things happen.
While bad things can often happen to your that aren’t your fault, assuming the role of the victim can only prove harmful in the long run.
When we blame others for our situation or emotional state, we are disenfranchising ourselves of our ability to control our mental state.
Taking responsibility for our lives empowers us, and helps us get back on the right track as quickly as possible.
5. Be Grateful
Adopting an attitude of gratitude can take you from a “glass half-empty” mindset and keep the focus on the positives in your life.
If you go around feeling that you’re constantly missing out on something, your life will start reflecting that sentiment back at you.
Simply by thinking about the good things you have in your life and what you might currently take for granted but would miss if it was gone, you can start taking pleasure from even the smallest of things and adopt a sunnier outlook all around.
6. Don’t Take Things Too Seriously
Modern life gets pretty hectic for most of us, and it can be hard to remember that life is for living.
Relax, laugh, enjoy yourself and remember not to take life quite so seriously.
Positivity involves finding good in all aspects of life and being able to forgive yourself for any occasional missteps.
There’s nothing wrong with hard work, but make sure you make time for yourself to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
While it may not seem like it sometimes, the way we feel about ourselves and our lives is ultimately our choice.
These thoughts inform our actions and, therefore, the realities that we build for ourselves.
Think about the life that you want, and your more likely to discover it. Obviously, we’re all only human, and there are times when everyone feels down for one reason or another.
However, it’s important that we acknowledge when we’re giving ourselves a hard time, and turn our attentions back to embracing positivity.
Use these methods to take control over your life, and you’ll be amazed at the change you’ll be capable of achieving.