Most people experience negative thinking once in awhile, but some have greater difficulty in overcoming unwanted thoughts and feelings. If you find your default button is set towards the negative side of life and you'd like to change it, or if you're in a rut you want out of, there are some steps you can take today to help you make a change.
Sometimes a person gains perspective by identifying what is behind the negative thoughts:
It's easy to catch on to a negative mood and decide to stay with it, which will only end up making you feel worse. It is harder to step away from it. Whatever you make your focus will control your mood. People often quickly say they are "depressed" but what they may really be experiencing are normal human emotions that are a result of loss, hurt feelings, or let down. What they may be feeling is grief, under-appreciation, disappointment or loneliness, not depression. If these labels ring true for you, allow yourself time to process them until you rebound.
If you were to stand outside of yourself for a moment and draw from your compassionate side, what you would suggest to someone in your position? If you're prone to be hard on yourself, perhaps the kinder route would be to let yourself rest, lay low, feel the grief, accept help, work with a counsellor or talk with a friend.
Negative thoughts will lie to you. They will start by feeding you low opinions of yourself and the world around you. If you let them, they will make you feel hopeless. That means fighting them is important. Ask yourself if what you are thinking is really true 100% of the time. How sure are you that what you fear will really happen? Try to picture a different outcome and come up with solutions that re-write the story that is playing in your mind.
Many people are negative due to comparing themselves with others. There is always someone that will have something you don't, be better at something, or look how you dream to look. Instead of focusing on them, look at all the goodness and potential within yourself.
It can feel fun to gossip, complain or criticize others. At times, venting might be good for you. At other times, venting only nurtures bad feelings. Even after a good gossip or complaining session, you might feel guilty and dislike yourself even more. A better approach is to focus on positive words that build others up instead of pointing out flaws and projecting ingratitude.
Helping others is a good way to feel better. Do a good deed of some sort. A change of scenery can jump start good feelings too. Get out of the house, be around people, start a new project or get some exercise.
When you're feeling glum, find happy people to show you the way rather than hanging around people who will commiserate with you. Look for inspiration through books with positive-thinking messages.
If you're dwelling on regrets or living in the past; if you're picturing a bleak future, you are robbing yourself of this moment. Bring yourself back into the reality of the present. Do something that will make the next hour or two meaningful.
No matter how small or ridiculous the goal is, set one. Then set another and another. By making progress on goals you will see progress happening in your life and feel a sense of accomplishment that will help to replace negative feelings.
These are just a few tools you can implement any time negative feelings creep up on you. If you find yourself in a rut you just can't shake, see your doctor or book an appointment with a counsellor. True depression needs professional attention.
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