Learning how to stop being negative is difficult… but it might be easier than you think. I will help you to understand what’s going on the brain to cause negativity, and a very simple technique to stop the spiral of negativity in your mind, helping you to be more positive and happier in life!
Did you know that nobody is born as a happy and positive person? Humans only become these things by conscious effort! It’s actually human nature to be negative.
I have to admit that I was relieved when I heard this. I couldn’t figure out why I was so inclined to have a negative outlook and I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult to figure out how to stop being so negative!
So why are humans wired for negativity? Well, science has shown that negativity is a survival mechanism. Our brains are wired for survival. We are constantly alert to threats and the constant possibility of doom and disaster. In fact, we are vigilant in our negativity!
We are much better at remembering when things are terrible than when things are good or even just OK. Our brains store lots of info about the times we feel under threat.
But it doesn’t stop there- our brains send signals to our body and cause an actual physical reaction, too. This physical reaction presents as one of the three Fs of Fear: fight, flight or freeze. Chemicals course through your body and prepare you to react in one of these ways.
Although, the source of threats have altered through the ages, how we respond to threats in our body is the same. You might not have to prepare to fight or run from a tiger nowadays, but actually being stuck in traffic or in a long cue in the supermarket can cause the same reaction.
So, with all of this pre-wiring against us, how can we stop being negative?
How the Brain Can Adapt
Our inherent negativity comes down to this: how we interpret what’s going on around us. It’s all about how we see things through our filter of negativity. Remember that this filter is there to protect you. The problem occurs when it does its job far too well!
The good news is this: your brain can adapt!
Neuroplasticity is all about your brain’s ability to grow and adapt. You can take control over how your brain perceives things by training your brain to see more clearly. You can take more control in deciding what is really a threat or not. When you do this, you can avoid flooding your brain with chemicals and will be able to react in a much more calm and positive way.
In a way, your brain is tricking you to see things through a negative filter- it’s protecting you by making you see everything as a threat. To learn how to stop being negative, it’s important to be aware of the ways in which our brain tricks us to see these threats in others and in our situation.
These are some of the most common negative mindsets that we battle with as humans.
- Mind Reading- this is when you believe you know what’s going on inside someone else’s head. This is almost always skewed negatively. We believe that someone else sees us negatively. This belief can persist no matter what the person actually says. We might even think, ‘oh they’re just saying that to be nice. It’s not what they really think.’
- Negative Filter– This is when we are only able to see the negative side in any situation.
- Should and Must- This mindset is applying the words ‘should‘ and ‘must‘ to ourselves to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold other people. It’s about being harsher on yourself than on anyone else.
- Black and White- Seeing the world through a black and white mindset involves making big sweeping statements. For example, ‘if I could just…’ Often if we step back, we realize that situations are rarely so black and white.
- Catastrophising- This is when we jump to the worst case scenario for every situation. For example, when you see that your manager is ringing you, you might assume that you are in trouble, or they are upset with you.
- Personalization- This is quite simply making every action of others all about you, usually in a negative way.
- Low Frustration Tolerance- This is when we let our thoughts or fears stop us from acting on something we want. For example, I am anxious to speak in public, therefore I can never speak in public. It cannot be done, it’s impossible.
- Magical Thinking- This is when we think about the future in an illogical way. For example, once I have lost weight, I will start dating and will meet the right person. We believe that one thing will change everything for us.
- Fortune Telling- Fortune telling is when we predict the future and treat it as true. For example, if I apply for that job I won’t get it. Therefore, I won’t apply.
How to Tackle Negative Mindsets
Are any of these mindsets familiar to you? There might be one that is a massive influence on your thoughts. Maybe there is a mix of 2-3 that are dominant thought patterns for you. Or, maybe it’s a little bit of a few of them at different times or in different situations.
So, we might know that these thoughts are our brain tricking us, but how do we stop being negative and actually tackle these negative mindsets?
- RECOGNIZE IT: Step one is to recognize the negative mindset when it pops into your mind. Being able to recognize which negative mindset you’re facing helps you to press the pause button in your brain. It stops your brain from spiraling into the negativity cycle. In a way, you’re ‘catching it’ before your brain floods your body with chemicals and affects you physically.
- NAME IT: Actually say the name of the negative mindset out loud. Name what your brain is trying to do. This is incredibly powerful as it helps you to re-route your brain into a more positive thought pattern.
- ASK YOURSELF: Take a step back and ask yourself if there is another way to look at this. Again, this re-directs your brain away from the negative mindset into a much more positive state of mind.
This process is so hard, but it becomes easier and easier the more you do it. Why not write a list of the negative mindsets and keep it somewhere visible? This could help you to quickly recognize it and name it when your brain starts taking you down this path.
Taking control of your thoughts in this way is so powerful! Identifying your mindset is half the battle. This simple technique will help you to be conscious of negative mindsets. It also frees you from guilt- it’s not that you are a negative person, instead, your brain is simply wired to protect you. It wants you to be vigilant to threats from other people.
Each time you press the pause button and break this spiral, you are re-training your brain! You are wiring it for positivity instead of negativity, and are setting yourself up to be a much happier person.
Learning how to stop being negative takes a lot of work and self-monitoring, but it is so worth it!
Train Your Brain for Gratitude
Another way to learn how to stop being negative and teach your brain to be positive, is to train it to show gratitude.
Harvard Health shows how gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. Being grateful helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
But what exactly does developing gratitude mean?
It means to actively look for the things that you are grateful for. This helps you to focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t. It takes your brain out of it’s pre-wired negativity of what is wrong with life, and instead helps you to focus on what you have.
Take a quick stock-take of what you are grateful for the next time you feel negative. You could start a gratitude list that you can glance over to help you to feel more positive and happier, or you could even start a gratitude journal where you jot down the things you are grateful for each day.
Learn to Stay in the Present
Paying attention to the small things in the present is a fantastic way to increase your positivity and happiness.
It can be all too easy to let the little things in life fly by while we are busy worrying about what might go wrong in the future or what has gone wrong before in the past.
Learning to live in the present helps you to be more aware of your thoughts, emotions and experiences in each moment of the day. It can make you feel happier by helping you to slow down and to appreciate things as they happen. You will be surprised by how many happy moments you notice each and everyday, both in how you feel and in what is going on around you.
The Berkeley Science Review shares how mindfulness can make us feel happier and even improve out overall quality of life.
CARVE TIME TO REFLECT
One of the best ways to be positive is to journal. Even a few minutes of writing in a journal each day can have amazing benefits. Research suggests that journaling can boost happiness in five minutes or less!
It can reduce anxiety, depression and stress, and can help you to develop insight and cope with emotions. It can help you to see things in a new way, and to reflect on what you’ve learned from experiences. These can help you to grow and get the most from life.
The Plan the Life You Love Motivational Planner and Reflection from Etsy will inspire you and help you to plan a life you love. The reflective pages help you to capture key moments in your life– what you’re proud of, grateful for, what made you laugh, a person that helped you, something to work on, as well as words to remember. It lets you create a beautiful memory to look back on.
It’s just a few dollars so why not grab a copy and try it out?
You might also enjoy:
- 5 Powerful Secrets For How to Live in the Present
- How to be Successful in Life: It’s Simpler Than You Think!
- 4 Awesome Ted Talks That Will Show You How to Get Stuff Done
- 3 Vital Areas For Adults to Develop a Growth Mindset and Unlock Potential
- 11 Must-Know Tips on How to Be Happy With Yourself
Comment and let me what you are learning in how to stop being negative and what helps you to stay positive. Please also share this post if you enjoyed it- every share helps!
Thanks for reading!