I admit that I am a victim to my own thoughts. I let negative thoughts imprison me and make me feel hopeless. I want my life to be perfect. I want to feel bliss in every moment of every day. However, I know that it’s not possible. I am only human. Over the course of my life, I have learned strategies that have helped me think more positively.
1. Remind yourself that you can’t stop your racing thoughts instantly, and that’s okay.
If you were going through a battle, no matter how big or small, chances are someone told you to snap out of the way you were feeling. Although I wish this were possible, it’s not. Sometimes, negative thoughts keep buzzing around your mind with no immediate way to shut them off.
2. Note the good things of the day and live in the moment.
Even if your thoughts shift to anxiety about the future or bad feelings about the past, or even if you don’t like the present moment, do something you enjoy. Go for a walk. Accomplish something even if it is just doing a load of laundry. Note the positive aspects of the day. Was the day beautiful? Did a funny video make you chuckle? Did a coworker make you smile? Write that down either mentally or in a journal. You may realize your day hasn’t been so bad after all.
3. Keep bringing yourself to the present.
I know, I know, this is so cliche, but living in the moment does help significantly. You certainly don’t have to love the present moment. However, as I mentioned, being mindful of the positive aspects of the moment does help. If it’s a beautiful day outside, take note of that. Also, whenever a bad thought comes, simply acknowledge it kindly in your mind as just a thought and go back to what you were doing. Even if the task seems tedious and your mind keeps racing, gently nudge your mind to focus elsewhere when a negative thought occurs. This may take a while, and it won’t happen instantaneously, but you’ll notice the longer that you do that, the better you’ll feel. This seems to do the trick for me. Start by setting a timer for five minutes and whenever a negative thought hits, take note and gently nudge it out of your mind. Once the timer goes off, you may notice you feel a lot better.
4. Stop comparing your problems to others.
If you’ve ever been feeling down, you’ve probably felt guilty for feeling the way that you do and understand that other people have worse problems than you do. When I’ve been down in the dumps, people have told me that my problems aren’t as big as other people’s and that I shouldn’t feel as bad as I do. While perspective can help, sometimes it does not always help me feel better because I feel like my worries are insignificant, which makes me feel more guilty for feeling upset about “minuscule” things when other people have “catastrophic” problems. The best thing to do is to acknowledge that your problems, no matter how big or small, impact your life. Know that your feelings are your own and are nothing to be ashamed of.
5. Stop comparing your successes and failures to others.
There is no set rule that you have to have all of your dreams come true right this very second. You also don’t have to feel 100% awesome at this very moment. There is no rule that you have to be as successful or as happy as that one person right now. Everyone gets their moment to shine or be really happy in life, but understand that now may not be your moment, and that’s okay.
6. Sometimes you need to accept your emotions as they are.
You can’t always bring your mind into the present or feel positive, and that’s okay. Your thoughts might be overwhelming and you can’t shut them off, and that’s okay. Instead of beating yourself up about it, let your emotions run their course, at least once in a while, so that you can feel better. I learned that I can’t always feel good even though I want to and that negative emotions have to be there in order for positive emotions to come.