It sounds strange. Why would someone who wants to live a more positive life embrace their negative thoughts? Well, surprisingly, due to our nature it is the only way we can build more productive and positive avenues of thinking. Below are the five keys to unlocking the power of your negative thoughts and reversing their influence on your mindset.
Understand That Negativity is Natural
Negativity, fear, and anxiety are byproducts of our natural fight or flight response. As humans, if we perceive a threat, our brain generates a response. While this natural occurrence can’t be completely eliminated, there is growing evidence that we can push a portion of this reaction to more rational areas of the brain. Knowing that this reaction is natural also suggests it is unproductive to become frustrated with oneself when negative thoughts surface. This response unfortunately just leads to more negativity. Therefore the best way to deal with our negative thoughts is to simply embrace them and minimize the importance we give them.
Understand Your Thoughts Are Just Thoughts
Crucial to moving your natural response to a more rational part of your brain is understanding that thoughts are only thoughts. Thoughts are not actions or consequences. Many of the things we think will happen will actually never happen. Taking this to heart puts us in the position to accept that while we may have negative thoughts, we will not necessarily experience their negative outcomes. Truly accepting this frees us to hear our negative thoughts without dread or concern.
Make Peace with Negativity to Create Room for Positivity
The key to removing the power of negative thoughts over our emotional mindset is to accept them. When we accept our thoughts, we can move past the negativity that is holding us back from action. Practicing this act of self compassion is an often challenging but necessary step to moving beyond the trap of negative thoughts. By accepting their presence we remove their emotional weight, and they can now become passing and fleeting. Being able to note a passing negative emotion rather than react to it is empowering.
“You don’t necessarily have to like the thoughts or agree with them – you just have to let them be there in the background of your mind, while you go out and get things done.” – Psychology Today
Avoid Coping Mechanisms To Prevent Negative Spirals
Sometimes our very coping mechanisms can be our downfall. In an attempt to relieve the stress of negative thoughts, many people use short-term coping mechanisms such as alcohol or drug abuse, complete conflict avoidance, overeating, or overspending. While these behaviors may be tempting and seem helpful in the short term, they all have long-term negative consequences that only bring increased stress and conflict in our lives. The ability to acknowledge and embrace negative thoughts is a positive coping mechanism that can help to divert negative emotional spirals.
Increase Mindfulness for Long-Lasting Impact
Once we’ve accepted our negative thoughts and created space for positivity, we are well positioned to embark on a practice of mindfulness to continually optimize our state of mind. Over time, studies show just meditating for 10 minutes a day can fundamentally change our reaction to outside stimulus. Additionally, there is evidence this change can actually have an impact on our health.
Want to take your mindfulness to the next level? Spire tracks your breathing and unlocks insights on your state of mind. Learn more about Spire.