“If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes,” former President Bill Clinton once said. But what he didn’t mention is that past mistakes, and even dreadful experiences, can haunt you. You can replay them in your mind, over and over, developing a pattern of negative thinking that becomes so habitual it seems impossible to turn the switch off. Any ray of hope becomes blotted out. But you can get your glow back. It all starts by assessing your thought-life and consciously retraining your brain to think more positively.
How is Your Thought Life?
Your thought life are the conversations you have in your mind. It’s the collection of the random things you think about on a day-to-day basis. While some thoughts are fleeting, there are many which we dwell on and eventually drive us into action. So, how is your thought life doing? What types of thoughts do you regularly have popping in? Are they more positive or negative? Chances are you haven’t thought about this much, as many people just go through their day-to-day lives without really doing a check-up. Today, though, I want you to give your mind a thorough evaluation to see what types of thoughts you’ve been entertaining regularly. Ask yourself right now if you feel like your thoughts are more positive than negative. A great way to gauge this is to check how you’ve been feeling lately. Have you been anxious? Fearful? Sad? Angry? If you’ve been experiencing negative emotions, you’ve been entertaining negative thoughts. Dwelling on past negative events or thinking that your future holds no bright spots, has a direct influence on your emotions.
Get and Keep Your Thoughts in Check
You’ve been thinking more negative thoughts than you’d like. It happens to the best of us. What can you do? You can begin to learn how to redirect those negative thoughts; you can retrain your brain to transform negative thoughts to more positive ones. For example, let’s say you think this thought a lot:“Nothing ever goes my way.” That’s actually a pretty common negative thought. It especially comes when several unfavorable things happen in your life, like the loss of a job followed by a nasty car accident. While these events suck, the truth is there are plenty of things that go your way, and they should be acknowledged. It’s the only way you’ll have a chance of breaking the cycle. Another truth is that if we all took stock of past unfortunate incidents, we’d forever be ranting and raving, because life deals heavy hands no matter who you are and what age. Any one of us could grow angry or sad and throw our hands up in disgust. But we think you’re tired of this approach. So, let’s revisit that first negative thought and the circumstances again. How could we turn things around? After a car accident and job loss, instead of saying “Nothing ever goes my way,” perhaps you could say, “I’m grateful to be alive. I’m going to take this break from work to discover my real passion and find the job best suited for me.” Then, begin thinking about all the things going right in your life. Perhaps the accident was a godsend--the car was on its last leg and needed to be replaced. Maybe you hated your job and now know what qualities you want in your next gig. You have money saved up, so you have wiggle room to figure things out. Don’t forget the love of family and friends or housing stability either. Counting your blessings instead of counting your curses, is the key here.
How a Positive Thought Life Helps
If you keep redirecting your negative thoughts, what will happen is your mood will improve. You will feel better despite negative occurrences. You’ll view them more as a normal part of life, because they are. And you’ll balance them out by recognizing and affirming that life too brings good tidings. Know that a positive train of thought doesn’t occur over time; it takes conscious effort. You will be tempted to entertain negative thoughts like:
It’s too hard.
Life was more fun when I was drinking.
I’ve messed up so much.
I’ll never get ahead.
I can’t do this.
Over time, and with practice, you’ll find yourself saying things such as: This is hard, but I can do it. Life was a mess when I was drinking; it’s much better now. I’ve made some mistakes and I am learning from them. I am moving forward, one step at a time. You can do it. Just keep telling yourself that! At the end of the day, being in control of your thought life puts you in the driver seat of your emotions, your actions, and your day-to-day life.