A habit of negative thinking can hurt your job performance, home life and relationships. Don’t let a negative outlook add stress and unhappiness to your life. Here are five positive thinking techniques that you can try today to regain control over your thoughts and your life:
1. Stop and listen
The first step in addressing negative emotions and thoughts is to identify what those thoughts are. Take a moment each day to stop what you are doing and focus inwardly. Go somewhere quiet without distractions. Be still and listen to your heart and your mind. Identify the worries, feelings and desires that are running through your head. You may even want to write down what you’re thinking. This practice of self-awareness is the first step in thinking more positively.
2. Ask “what did I do right?”
Are you focusing on a recent conversation or event in your life where you feel you made a mistake? If this is the case, go back to that moment and think about it in terms of what went right. Give yourself credit for what you did to make that situation or conversation work well. Even if you are not happy with the ultimate outcome, allowing yourself to feel positively about certain aspects of a situation will help you to break the cycle of self-doubt and move forward.
3. Recognize both sides of an issue
We all have a tendency to think in absolute terms about events in our lives. That meeting at work was horrible or that night out with friends was amazing. Instead of looking at things from an all or nothing point of view, try to find a healthy middle ground. If you think something was awful, go back and look for positive aspects. If you are feeling overly excited about something, then pause and ask if there’s a way you could have improved upon your success in that situation. This practice teaches you that there is no absolute good or bad and helps you embrace and learn from each experience on your journey.
4. Visualize yourself making changes
What changes do you want to make for yourself? Do you have a goal to run a half-marathon or finally get that promotion at work? Close your eyes and visualize yourself taking the first small step toward achieving that change. For example, you could picture yourself jogging in the mornings or speaking up more in meetings at work. Take time to return to your image of success throughout the day. Hold this visualization in your mind to stay inspired and on the path to positive change.
5. Practice quieting your mind
This is similar to the first technique of stopping and listening to your thoughts but takes that practice a step further. Go to a quiet place and sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and your chest open. Find a spot on the floor directly ahead of you to gently focus on. Take two deep breaths to release any anxiety or tension. Then breathe normally and count each inhalation and exhalation. As words and thoughts pop into your head acknowledge each thought and then let each thought go as if you are letting go of a balloon. Focus on your breathing and posture. Practice this light meditation for even a few minutes each day to feel more positive and in control of your thoughts.
What are your favorite ways to overcome negative thoughts?