How familiar do these statements sound to you?
“Of course this would happen to me.”
“When it rains, it pours.”
“If it’s not one thing, then it’s another.”
While these are very common comments to make when you’re frustrated or going through a difficult situation, it can also be comments that slowly debilitate you from positive thinking. The more we think negatively, the easier it is for us to pick up on negative comments, situations and behaviors around us. When this happens, a “radar” in our brains, that should be meant to pick up on negatives AND positives, tends to only focus on the negatives.
Here are a few tips that can help turn your negative radar off and kick your positive radar into high gear.
- Accept compliments. Like really, truly, genuinely accept them. When I was a teenager and someone would tell me I was pretty, I would literally tell them to shut up. How rude, right?! But my negative radar was so overly enabled that I couldn’t even fathom something positive coming my way; nonetheless, believe it for myself. So, I deflected it. Until one day, a very wise woman at my church said, “Do NOT tell me to shut up. I said you are beautiful, which you are, now say thank you and accept it!” Her response was exactly what I needed. Saying ‘thank you’ that day was extremely difficult, but it started a momentum in me, which eventually got my positive radar up and running again.
- Write down affirmations daily. As difficult as it is at first to accept positive thoughts, comments and beliefs, do your best to push yourself to find these positives in every day life, even if they seem insignificant at first. You must take a step before you leap. You have to start somewhere right? Writing these affirmations down will be a daily reminder of the good.
- Stop thinking irrationally. Become very aware of your irrational thoughts. Do not say things like “always” or “never.” For example, “Things NEVER go well for me!” Really? Never? Ever? Nothing has EVER gone well for you? The more exaggerated your thought, the more likely it is to be irrational. Take that thought and flip it to become rational and something you can cope with and get through. For example, you can take “Things never go well for me,” and turn it into, “Today has been hard, and a lot of things did not go according to plan, but I understand that I cannot control every situation. And there is always tomorrow.”
- Get help/seek accountability. A professional counselor is the perfect person to help you begin this process of change. A good counselor will hold you accountable, encourage and empower you, and help fill the gaps where you struggle doing so.