It’s likely that you already know a person who just seems to be more positively geared than others. Doesn’t matter what life throws at their way they’ll find a way to squeeze something positive out of the experience. Nothing throws off their good vibe.
In contrast, you can likely think of a person right now who has a “gift” of finding the negative angle in everything in life, even in the seemingly good stuff.
Maybe you need tips to shift away from your negativity. Or perhaps you are a positive person who needs help in dealing with the negative people around you. Maybe you are somewhere in the middle. Either way, this article will help you to get started.
But first, an important disclaimer. If you are someone who struggles to get through days due to immense feelings of sadness and negativity, please seek professional help. Please find a qualified professional who is educated to help you with the stuff you’re going through.
How to manage your negative thoughts better
For most, negative thinking is a habit. It’s no different to any other ingrained routine, such as snacking while watching tv or craving for sweets when stressed. Negativity feeds negativity so if you are a negative thinker it will take a while to break the cycle.
And while you are trying to break the habit of negative thinking, remember that it’s normal to not feel excessively happy all the time.
Acknowledge your thoughts
Here’s where the importance of a daily meditation practice can really shine. In meditation you “watch” as the thoughts enter your mind and then you let them float by without getting stuck on them. With diligent meditation (or mindfulness) practice you become better at noticing these negative thoughts as they arise throughout the day.
As an example, if a certain situation brings on the negative thoughts acknowledging them could be as simple as saying to yourself, “aha, this makes me feel upset”, or “now I feel upset”. Slowly you become better at discovering your thoughts instead of letting them take over.
Don’t judge yourself for feeling something negative. Just observe. Acknowledging the thoughts and giving yourself the permission to feel them can take you a long way.
If you are new to meditation Headspace or Calm are great apps to start with. Both of them offer guided meditation for beginners.
Try to find positive aspect in everything
Let’s say that someone has just given you harsh negative feedback regarding your job. To find the positive aspect could mean taking the harsh negative feedback as a growth builder. “What can I learn from this negative feedback”.
And yes, this is challenging as it takes humility.
Keep a gratitude journal
Before going to sleep write down one positive thing about today. It doesn’t have to be, and rarely is, a major life event. Often it could be as simple as paying attention and finding positive in mundane, everyday tasks or situations.
There are hundreds of everyday moments to find positivity in. It could be certain person in your life. Maybe you had a nice conversation with someone? Or the taste of cold water after a hard workout? The fact that you have a body that you can take through a workout?
Make it a habit to finish each day with an uplifting thought. Write down something that you are grateful for.
Cut yourself some slack
We are our own harshest critics. If you have the tendency to look in the mirror and go “I am not thin/muscular/pretty enough”, imagine that you are talking to your best friend. Would you talk them down like that? No, you probably wouldn’t because it would make them feel awful. Yet we do this to ourselves all the time.
This doesn’t mean that you have to become delusional. Just learn to practice self-compassion.
Often negative thinking is caused by the tendency to blame other people or situations for the hardship.(1) From now on think that you are 100% in control of everything that happens.
Since you can’t blame anyone else anymore this can empower you to be more in control of your thinking. Not that you need to be a an overly positive person that avoids some of the harsh truths about life. Because let’s face it, life is not always peachy. Having a healthy scepticism towards some aspects of life while trying to keep the glass half full is a great balance to strive for.
How to deal with negative people around you
It’s heavy to be around someone who is constantly bringing you down. Whether it’s because they complain about their lives and drag you under for just being a spectator to their (at times, self-created) misery.
If the negative people around you are co-workers that you can’t avoid, don’t get pulled into their negative conversations. If possible, walk away. If not, try to stay stoic by acknowledging, but not engaging further into the rabbit hole of negativity.
To make these moments easier for yourself you can try to understand where they are coming from. Learn to empathise with them. But again, don’t engage because negativity breeds negativity.
When you leave the negative work environment clear your head by listening to music, pick up a hobby or by catching up with positively geared friends. Do whatever gets your mind off work and the negative people in there. Try not to take that negativity to home with you.
Of course you could change jobs. But in each workplace there are always one or two negative people. Instead of just running away it’s good to learn to deal with them better.
With friends you could absolutely use the above advice on dealing with coworkers. But we are free to choose our friends. And in these cases the best solution often is to remove the negative influences from your life. Avoid them like plague, stop keeping contact.
Understandably this is a challenging and an uncomfortable solution. You might end up cutting ties with someone who you’ve known for a very long time. So prepare yourself for some hard conversations.
But whatever you do, don’t be the overly positive person and try to change negative people with your always over the top sunny attitude. Negative people love being negative. And what they love even more is ripping into positive people.