Everyone has negative thoughts from time to time, but some people battle them on an almost constant basis. If you happen to be in the second category (or anywhere near it) it’s probably necessary to seek out the help of a competent mental health professional. Sometimes you just need outside help to understand where all your negativity is coming from and how to curtail it.
My experience in controlling negative thoughts and cultivating positive ones is based purely on self reflection, trial and error, and reading inspirational books that helped fuel my optimism, self belief, resourcefulness, and positivity.
Perhaps the first step to improving the quality of your thoughts is to realize that thoughts are the building blocks of your life and that it’s possible to control them. Whether your thoughts tend to be positive or negative (construction or destructive) depends on how you perceive yourself, how you tend to react to people and situations in your environment, and the thought habits you’ve developed over time.
Thoughts that you think repeatedly tend to reinforce themselves and become stronger. That, of course, can work for you or against you. Becoming consciously aware of how you communicate with yourself, both out loud and silently, is another key step to overcoming negative thinking and becoming a more positive person.
Why Think Positive Thoughts?
Question: What are the benefits of becoming a more positive person? That’s a good question to ask yourself before proceeding any further. What’s in it for you?
The benefits are innumerable and are often life changing! In a nutshell, improving the quality of your thoughts can drastically improve your relationship with yourself and others. It can also help you become a more productive, effective, and organized human being. If you focus on positive thoughts every day, several times a day, your new thought patterns will boost your chances for attaining more happiness, financial success, inner peace, self acceptance, and love.
Becoming a more positive person is worthy of your time and continued effort.
While there is no panacea (that I know of) for instantly getting rid of negative thoughts and consistently replacing them with happy thoughts, here are a few suggestions, ideas, and personal development resources that I hope you’ll find helpful:
- Practicing gratitude, which is also known as “counting your blessings,” can be a very effective way to lift your state of mind, improve your mood, and give yourself a heightening sense of well-being. There are a lot of books, free articles, and inspirational videos online that can provide you with specific techniques for listing and dwelling on things in your life to be thankful for and appreciative of.
- Positive affirmations are statements you can write, say, listen to, or read that help make you feel more confident, optimistic, determined, talented, comforted, peaceful, loved, or motivated. (Note: Once you become aware of how you’re talking to and about yourself, you can begin replacing negative statements about yourself with positive ones. When it comes to self esteem and happiness, one of the worst things people do is to put themselves down and berate themselves — both mentally and when talking to others.)
- Give yourself credit when credit is due! When you accomplish something, handle a situation effectively, create something worthwhile, help another human being in need, or make progress in some area of your life, you deserve to recognize that in your own mind. You might even want to reward yourself in some way or, at least, acknowledge and congratulate yourself in a written journal.
- Identify and eliminate self-defeating beliefs and negative habits. In some cases, you may be holding yourself back in life by believing negative things about yourself which are either untrue or no longer true. If you take an inventory of all your self–imposed limitations and try to shine an objective light on them, you might be surprised at how many of them have no basis in truth or reality.
- Seek support from others: To the extent possible, spend time with supportive and nurturing friends, family, and “significant others” who make you feel loved, appreciated, and special. It’s nourishment for your soul and self esteem.
- Read inspiring books by Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Jack Canfield, Esther and Jerry Hicks, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Joseph Murphy, Robert Collier, Debbie Ford, Russ Harris, Og Mandino, Robert Holden, Wallace D. Wattles, Charles F. Haanel, Maxwell Maltz, and many others. There is no shortage of worthwhile, inspirational books, and coaching programs that can help you became a more positive, joyful, motivated, accomplished, focused, and peaceful person. For many people, the Bible is a source of inspiration and renewal. My favorite biblical quote is “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you.”
- Exercise: If your doctor says it’s okay, then get yourself started on a regular exercise program — preferably with a friend or partner (You’ll stand a greater chance of sticking with it if you have someone who will hold you accountable… and vice versa!) Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress, clear your mind, infuse yourself with positive energy, and give yourself a feeling of having more control over your life.
- Meditation and prayer: We all have a connection to a a life force — a source of energy, creativity, and love — that’s much bigger and more powerful than our individual selves. The famous “Serenity Prayer” written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971) is an excellent one to reflect on, every now and then: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Note: These suggestions and ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to realizing your potential and overcoming negativity. If you want to take concrete action to achieve personal transformation, then consider a six-week coaching program offered by three leaders in the science of success and mental mastery.*
Allowing negative thoughts to wither away through disuse and redirected attention can help clear the way for positive thoughts to thrive. Being positive, happy, and optimistic is your natural state of being. The challenge is to eliminate or reduce all the mental clutter and “baggage” that is standing in the way of realizing your potential and enjoying life more.
When you find a way to feel good about yourself and your prospects in life, you instantly become more attractive and likeable to other people. By radiating genuine enthusiasm and positive energy, people are often drawn to you and, in many cases, are inspired to help you, hire you, befriend you, cooperate with you, follow your lead, encourage you, and/or collaborate with you.
So how do you get rid of unwanted thoughts and cultivate positive, life-affirming, motivating thoughts?
The short answer is: It’s a process and it requires a strong sense of personal commitment and follow-through.
I’m reminded of an old joke (or maybe it’s a riddle) you may have heard before :
“How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?”
The answer is “Just one, but the light bulb really has to want to change!”
Thanks for checking out my blog. Stay tuned for more thoughts, reflections, and observations on life in coming weeks!
F.Y.I.: This blog features links to self-improvement books, online courses, and other educational materials for which I am a compensated affiliate.