How to silence the negative thoughts that are robbing you of joy
Did you know that each time you feel a mood change there is a negative thought that has intruded into your mind? Our feelings are so strong that they affect our actions, our interactions with others, and how we go about our daily activities. Trouble begins the moment we allow negative mental chatter to take over. The good news, however, is that you have the power to control your thoughts instead of letting them control you.
Anytime you hear that inner voice whispering negativity, be very keen to take action as soon as possible. Here are a couple of ways to reduce that negative mental chatter that robs you of peace and joy.
Practice Daily Gratitude and Appreciation
Most people are always complaining about what they don’t have until they forget about what they already have.Instead of focusing and obsessing on what you don’t have, can’t fix, can’t change, can’t can’t, start to look at what you have and be grateful.
Once you get into the habit of daily gratitude and appreciation, you will discover that your life is not as messy as you might have thought. In fact, you realize how privileged you are and the small and big things you have been taking for granted. You could even get a gratitude journal where you list all the things you are grateful about every morning or before you get to bed.
Learn to empathize with yourself and others
Nobody is perfect – neither you, nor your friends, your family, kids, colleagues or spouse. Replace the negative evaluation of your mistakes and misdeeds with tangible reasons as to why it happened. This is different from giving excuses. Take a mental walk back to how this happened from the beginning and cut yourself some slack. Be compassionate and gracious to yourself and others. If there is anything you can do to avoid a repeat of the mishap, focus on that instead of crying over spilled milk. Take the lessons the situation in the past presents. Fight the shame that keeps you from doing a “post-mortem” of that which you regret. It will be more helpful to your current and future as it gives you a way to change the self-condemning narrative. It will also help you to offer compassion to yourself.
Try to stay away from black and white thinking
This is the kind of thinking where you view things as being on extreme ends, “the either or” way of thinking. It denies you the chance to accommodate anything in between and what this kind of rigid thinking does is steal your joy and peace of mind. For instance, you do something, and only expect perfect results. When this doesn’t happen, you start beating yourself too hard over it and thinking that you are such a failure.
While you should always aim for excellence in life, learn to be flexible in your thinking. If something doesn’t meet your expectations, think of it as a lesson and not a failure. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim of circumstances whereas you can make the choice to be a survivor, a student of life. And about choices, always remember that even though the first emotion you feel is automatic, you have all the power to control how that thought and emotion progress. Be incharge!
Whenever negative thoughts crawl into your mind whispering to you that you are not good enough, show them that you are the boss and not them. If a voice says “You are not good enough” say out loud and affirm that you are none of that. You could say “I am amazing. I am handsome/beautiful, I am a hardworker and I am doing everything possible to get where I want to be.” “Just because I made a mistake does not mean I won’t accomplish my goals.” See the negative thinking as a reminder to “celebrate yourself” and do what I call a “personal pep-talk.” Once you muster the habit of chanting positive affirmations, you will find that there’s little or no space in your mind to accommodate negative mind chatter.
Live for a purpose greater than yourself
With all the chatter about self love and choosing yourself, we have to find balance and not become hedonistic. We have to realize that it’s not always about us. That in as much as we choose to self-protect, we have to do so with caution lest we step on other people’s toes. Watch your ego so that you don’t move from one extreme to the other.
Self love is about self acceptance, self confidence as well as treating others with grace and compassion. This includes telling them when they cross your boundaries, and setting consistent and clear boundaries with those who continue to “walk into your yard” without much thought to your feelings or well-being.
The most important thing you must always remember is that you have the power and authority to control negative mental chatter. Never forget that.