“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
1. RECOGNISE NEGATIVE THOUGHT PATTERNS
The mind is a tool and uncontrollable emotional thoughts (almost always negative) are often separate from the true self. The non stop mind chatter is commonly referred to as the ’emotional thinking machine’ or ‘primal mind’. It’s way of working is through your feelings and impressions. You may find yourself getting caught up in unnecessary thought about extreme and unlikely situations sometimes? Then feeling silly afterwards. That’s the true logical thinking self recognising the avoidable thought pattern. Subsequently, you have a choice to either, feed the thought and let it snowball or ignore it and move on. Try watching your thoughts closely and observe the negative patterns, everyone has them, some just choose to ignore them more than others.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” ~ Mary Engelbreit
2. AVOID PRESUMPTION AND ATTEMPTS TO MIND READ
Thinking negatively stops us relaxing with the uncertain. This can lead to ‘mindreading’. “They haven’t wrote back to me on Facebook; they don’t like me!” or “They only said that to make me feel better, they don’t really think that!”
That’s not logical thinking, it’s emotional presumptions made by the ‘primal mind’. Avoiding the assigning of meaning to something before you have any real evidence is a key part of overcoming negative thinking. These are ambiguous situations where any presumed conclusion will be inaccurate.
Exploring the possibilities isn’t a problem when you can be more comfortably neutral, you’ll be doing more of: “I don’t know why they havn’t text me back yet…” You’ll also be able to consider all possible reasons you can think of, not just the negative ones. Every presumable answer is as plausible as the other, so try to avoid this unnecessary thinking. Which leads us too…
3. CONSIDER OPPOSING PERSPECTIVES
The guy in the car in front has cut you up. Now the ‘primal brain’ thinking emotionally will wish instant revenge of some sort. Even if it’s just to express your venting anger. Lets put this into perspective, there may be occasions where you’ve accidentally cut someone up in the past, everyone makes mistakes. Consider that may be he didn’t check his mirrors or that he misinterpreted the space between you..etc…etc. Then consider this quote, it’s one of my favourites:
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~ Buddha
You’re anger is not felt by them, but, it may well ruin the rest of your day. Now consider you are walking up some stairs and someone cuts you up. Are you going to swear at them and ‘sit on their arse’? Perhaps attempt to ram them off the staircase and stick your middle finger up at them? I’d imagine that’s quite unlikely. So, overall, how has this issue affected you’re overall journey, you might now arrive at your destination 10-15 seconds later than you would of have? Is it worth it?
All thoughts and perceptions are filtered through your unique belief system, and it’s this filter that causes negative thoughts. Consider other perspectives and your filter won’t be so tight with accepting only what you think is the right way of doing things. From there, it is still your choice whether you pursue the negative thought or not, always.
4. MAKE NOTE OF WHAT YOU WATCH/READ AND LISTEN TO
Who we spend our time with, the material we choose to watch and read is a powerful influence on our cultural references. If for example you watch TV soaps/dramas daily, just watch closely how often positive interactions occur versus unnecessary negative ones and consider the impact that may have when you’re involved in a similar situation.
5. TRY NOT TO PLAY THE VICTIM
One lesson every person should learn is that “You can not control other people’s actions, you can only control your reaction to those actions.” Accept this as fact and it will make a huge difference in your overall well being.
You may not be able to change the boss at work who is always putting you down or the family member that is always complaining, but you can control the way their actions make you ‘feel’ and how you are reacting to them. Avoid letting others control your emotions, choose to control independently and master your own thoughts and feelings. If someone or something is constantly negatively impacting you then remove them from your life, or at least create distance where you can. Accepting that which can not be changed will save you an ample amount of time and energy, and will significantly reduce the amount of negativity you absorb in all future situations.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations