Transforming Negativity Tricks
Few things demolish motivation, enthusiasm, hope, and happiness faster than negativity. And yet, it is such an easy habit to get into. Maybe you heard a lot of negativity growing up so those same stories roll around in your head later in life. Maybe things have been really tough and it's hard to think of anything but more bad stuff will happen.
There are a lot of reasons we might get into negativity, but fortunately we can also get out of the bad habit too. The first step is to make sure that any mental health disorders are being treated. Some mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety, can make it incredibly hard to think about the world in ways other than fear or hopelessness. Getting help to manage those disorders will make thinking positively WAY easier and many forms of therapy, like CBT, help you to improve how you think about yourself and the world as well!
Balanced Focus is Key
The second step, is the daily practice of retraining your focus and your mind. Your attention is a flashlight, what are you shining it on? What are you highlighting and noticing in your life? Sometimes we skip right over or don't even notice anything decent and spend all our time tending to the negatives. We have to look at the bad stuff so we can take care of it, but we don't want to spiral down into that pit.
The following tips are fantastic tricks for transforming negativity. These are actually the exact strategies Coco used years ago to become the relentlessly uplifting person she is today even when she's noticing and tackling problems head-on.
- For every negative, say a positive - whether you're talking about yourself, a situation, the future, the past, or some other person. Positives don't have to be huge, they can be small, or even kinda neutral, like "at least I got to watch my favorite movie on my birthday" or "I am glad I went out of my comfort zone to say hello to that person even if they didn't smile back."
- For every known, note an unknown - if you think you know what someone is thinking, if you think you know what is going to happen in the future, if you think you know what you will be able to do or not do, if you think you know the outcome of something, or if you think you know all the facts about a situation, person, or area of knowledge. "I have no idea if my friend is mad at me" or "maybe they are just busy at work and that's why they didn't text me?" or "it is possible I might end up really enjoying myself."
- For every closed door, note an opportunity - maybe one situation didn't work out the way you planned, but what are some other options, including possibilities you didn't originally think about?
- Every time you blame yourself, identify something else that could have contributed to the outcome - very few things are 100% your fault. If you find yourself on a guilt trip or struggling with shame and blame, take a moment to notice what other things went into this situation being the way it is. Someone yelling at you? They had a say in how they decided to communicate their anger. Something didn't work out? Sometimes it is just random stuff that happens or other people did things that also contributed.
- Every time you blame someone else, consider how you contributed to the outcome - sometimes we totally blame ourselves, sometimes we completely blame other people. Neither one is a balanced viewpoint and leads to negativity. Note what you could do differently in the future to ensure a better outcome, like studying more, improving your social skills, making effort to connect with friends, preparing for your job interview better, and so on.
- For every generality, note the nuances of the situation - if you're saying words like always, never, everyone, nobody, all women, all men, or talking about a whole group of people in a negative way, take time to highlight how reality isn't so simple - the whole story is likely more complicated. Note how there are likely more differences, shades of gray, exceptions than you're acknowledging.
- For every should you say, note an exception to the rule - saying shoulds to yourself or other people is one of the worst negativity habits we can make. It's like putting a nasty schoolteacher inside your own head. To beat it, comment on how that should isn't always the rule. How there are exceptions and circumstances where that might not apply, how ultimately we get to decide what we want because we're not little children anymore. "I should do my homework" becomes "I don't have to do my homework. I technically can choose not to, but I want to because I hate stressing with it over my head."
- Every time you think about a problem in your life, think about a possible solution - get into problem solving mode. Think of possible solutions, no matter how unlikely they seem, think of people you can talk to for help with creating or carrying out solutions, and take action to do one thing, even the smallest thing, to put one of those solutions in motion.