How to Stay Positive in a Negative World

Negativity is a mental disease. Well . . . that may be a little harsh but it certainly feels like that when it happens to me!

I notice sometimes I have attacks of negativity all at once which can be overwhelming. If this negative monolog happens too long I notice that my thoughts start to speed up and when I have too many negative thoughts that are going too fast all at the same time I start to get anxiety and my heart rate goes up. Interestingly enough when I analyze these feelings it is often triggered by a physical problem. I’ve eaten too much that make my stomach expand, I’ve worked myself too hard and not taken a break, or I’m just hungry. There definitely seems to be a cycle to this and I feel like it can be controlled. 

That said, negativity can take the smartest most successful people and turns them into failures. The most well liked people to the most hated and the best friends to enemies. Why can we be so negative?

I believe it is a mindset. There is logic that when bad things happen they are happening to you and are not just happening. When we become victims we become powerless. How can we change ourselves and our world for the better when things are happening to you and only you. What can we do instead? Instead create an algorithmic mental rule that would go something like when x happens then I will do y instead of dwelling on the negative outcome. Training yourself to react differently to bad things happening can be difficult but you’ll feel much happier in the long run if you create a proactive plan to act to get around, through, or over a bad situation rather than just get upset about it. Emotion can be a power catalyst for change but emotion with no action is really just torture. This is when negativity can spiral out of control and when that happens then everything seems impossible and terrible which is not what anyone wants.

Affirm that you are responsible for your reaction to bad things happening. Things just happen and don’t have meaning. We are the ones who decide what it all means. Therefore, because we are responsible for how we choose to view an action or outcome we can change that and thus change how we feel. Once we are able to frame the world differently determine how to find the logical set of steps to get what you want. View the discovery process as an experiment without judgment. Feel excited about incremental progress rather than the end goal. Learn to enjoy the process of getting to your goals and view it as a puzzle as opposed to hitting a wall of frustration.

Write out all of the negative thoughts that you dwell on. It’s usually just a specific set of things that are constantly bothering you. Write out a short term and long term plan. In the short term write a statement that will divert your focus away from the negative thought and to focus on a positive action that will solve it. Imagine what it feels like to take that action to solve your problem. For the long term solution write out an action plan in the form of a routine that will mitigate and prevent you from thinking about feeling negative about that thing again.

This takes me to my next point. Associations are what drive negative and positive thoughts. This is why to me if you want to achieve anything in life you have to figure out how to create positive associations so that you can create a self reinforcing loop to propel you to a goal. If you’re constantly feeling negative it could be that there is an association in your life that is leading you to feel this way. If this is a physical thing then get rid of that thing or at least store it away so that it doesn’t keep reminding you of the negative thought. You can create a positive reinforcement loop for yourself by listing out all the things, people, and events that have made you happy in your life. When you start to think negatively go down the list and remind yourself of those positive things. You’d be surprised at how well this technique works.

Sometimes you’re just tired or hungry. It’s amazing how such a simple thing can affect your outlook. When you are not taking care of yourself your body let’s your know and sometimes without realizing it affects your mental outlook on a specific situation situation or all situations in general. Focus on maintaining good eating habits and getting good sleep. A midday nap can go a long way in becoming more positive!

When you’re not feeling negative use the opportunity to build stepping stones of positivity. Think of positive and negative thoughts as plus one and minus one. If you can consciously increase your point total during a day you’ll be much less likely to be completely knocked down when something bad happens. Write and speak affirmation statements that help you to build that self assurance. Write a narrative about how you will achieve your goals and believe in the future that you are creating. Create plans that will increase the certainty that you will achieve your goals. The more certainty you have the less likely you will be to feel negative (as how can you if you’re certain of an outcome?!).

Seek out positive people. Your environment is a major factor in your outlook and outcomes. While you are responsible for and have control over your reactions it’s a lot easier to combat negativity when you don’t have to constantly be on the front lines with it. Unfortunately today’s news media thrives on negativity and sensationalism. If you’re feeling negative constantly try turning off the news feed on your phone. Continue to stay up to date on current events but you don’t need constant negativity in arms reach. If you have an Android phone like me you can just press and hold the home page, select home settings, and turn off display Google App. Once done this will remove the ability to swipe right and view a news feed. In addition you can get the page eraser chrome extension. This extension will allow you to remove page elements at a point and click. While this will not render the page again with the elements removed it can be a good way to focus through all of the noise.

Ultimately, negativity is a self fulfilling self reinforcing activity. The more negative you think the more likely you will be to do negative things that produce negative outcomes. This is a loop that is pretty easy to get stuck in so unstick yourself as soon as possible!



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