Here are seven practices that I use with my son that you can easily utilize to build your child’s confidence.
Have you ever been faced with a task and that little annoying voice in your head keeps telling you that you’re going to fail? Have you ever been swiping through social media and all of a sudden you begin to think that your life isn’t as amazing as the people you see online? Every single person has had a negative thought at some point in life. The important thing is to remember that regardless of what thoughts may pop into your mind, you can’t allow them to become a pattern.
It’s easy to see the negative side of things, especially when faced with hardship. However, the more negative thoughts we allow ourselves to dwell on the more likely it will be that this becomes a pattern. When you constantly dwell on the bad, regardless of the situation, your mind will automatically seek out any potential negatives to latch on to.
How to Change the Way You Think
Constant/repetitive negative thinking can lead to having a skewed view of the world. It causes you to have an unrealistic approach to situations, decreases motivation and productivity, leads to incorrect assumptions, and can negatively impact your relationships.
But how do we combat the negative thoughts when it’s become the natural response to a situation? The mind is a muscle, in the same way that you would train your body in order to achieve a fitness goal, you would need to train your mind to think positively.
For a lot of people, quelling negative thought patterns could be considered changing their perception of the world and would not be easy. However, by incorporating these five techniques into your life it becomes easier to identify and avoid negative thought patterns.
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1. Recognize What They Are–Just Thoughts
Thoughts can hold a lot of power, but that’s only if we give them that power. Negative thoughts oftentimes come from a place of fear and aren’t grounded in reality. One way to deal with negative thought patterns would be to recognize when you’re having a negative thought and remember that it isn't necessarily true.
Many times when a negative thought presents itself, you may feel so broken or anxious that you aren’t immediately able to recognize that this isn’t true. Simply developing the habit of pinpointing a negative thought (and telling yourself that it’s only a negative thought and isn’t true) will build up your ability to shut down these types of thoughts as they come.
If you are tasked with an important project and a negative thought pops into your mind that you aren’t good enough to take on the challenge, remind yourself that it’s only a thought and not a reflection of your abilities. When you are able to identify negative thought patterns, ultimately you take away their power and influence.
2. Pause and Count Your Blessings
Negative thought patterns can send you spiraling into a place of despair. These thoughts can lead you to believe that there isn’t any aspect of your life that’s going according to plan. But that isn’t the case, even the most wealthy and successful people have negative thoughts from time to time.
Another method of combating these thoughts when they rear their ugly heads would be to pause for a moment and count your blessings. Negative thoughts have a way of clouding our view of reality. By taking a moment to think about all of the things you have and are grateful for you are better equipped to break any negative thought patterns.
Our brains are hardwired to store negative memories as opposed to positive ones, this is a mechanism that allows our species to survive. According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a positivity researcher at the University of North Carolina, it takes three positive experiences to offset the effects of one negative experience. She called this the 3-to-1Positivity Ratio. We can apply this to our negative thought patterns as well. Therefore, for every negative thought you have, offset its effects with three positive thoughts.
An amazing way to do this would be by using a gratitude journal. This would allow you to physically count your blessings and return to what you’ve written whenever you are being plagued by a negative thought. Creative Fabrica is a website that I use on a daily basis and they have tons of amazing Gratitude Journals made by independent creators for sale. I would highly recommend you take a look at the printable journals available on their site and find one that suits your need.
Incorporating this practice into your life makes it easier to break any negative thought patterns.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is simply the ability to be fully present and fully aware of your thoughts and feelings in every moment. It can be used to promote happiness, decrease anxiety, and avoid feeling overly reactive in a given situation.
There are numerous mindfulness techniques that can be easily incorporated into your daily life. What I would recommend when trying to break negative thought patterns would be to simply pause and do a short breathing exercise.
Whenever I’m faced with a nagging, negative thought, I like to shut my eyes and breathe deeply for a few minutes. I take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, then let it out. The purpose of this exercise is to clear your mind, relax your body, and release any negativity or fear that you’re holding on to. I find this practice to be extremely calming and once I’m done I’m better able to put things into perspective.
If you are new to the concept of mindfulness and would like to find out more about it and how you can use it to live a more positive life, I would recommend reading Practicing Mindfulness by Matthew Sockolov. This book is incredible, especially for beginners. It gives you insight into how to incorporate mindfulness into your life and also gives you some practical exercises to try out. I highly recommend the audiobook, it gives a much better and more immersive experience.
4. Use Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are short positive statements that you can say to yourself to combat your negative thoughts. Affirmations can be said out loud or quietly to yourself. The more you positively self-affirm, you will notice that it will eventually become instinctive for you to speak positively to and about yourself.
If you’ve read my article on How to Raise a Self-Confident Child, you know that I believe in the use of positive affirmations from a young age but it’s never too late to begin using this technique. As I mentioned before, you need at least three positive thoughts to reduce the effects of one negative thought. My recommendation would be to create at least three positive affirmations that are personal to you, and that you can say to yourself whenever a negative thought comes to you.
If you find it difficult to come up with affirmations on your own don’t worry, here is a list of ten affirmations that I love that you can use to banish negative thoughts.
- I am worthy of every good thing this world has to offer and no longer accept the bare minimum.
- I am stronger than my fears. They do not control me.
- I don’t have to prove my worth, I belong in any space I choose to walk into.
- I am happy, healthy, and whole. I embrace inner peace and confidently release anything or anyone who does not honor or serve me.
- I find strength in vulnerability and the knowledge that regardless of the outcome I am supported.
- I trust my journey and I am excited about what the future holds for me.
- I embrace imperfection as a learning tool and use failure as a stepping stone to success.
- I achieve every goal and overcome every challenge set before me.
- The chaos around me is no match for the calm within me.
- I let go of negativity. Anxiety, shame, and fear do not hold any power over me.
5. Talk It Out
Sometimes the best way to put things into perspective is by speaking to someone else about it. Whether you choose to speak to a family member, a friend, or a trained professional, it’s important to have someone you can trust that you can share your fears with.
As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of the negative thoughts that we have come from a place of fear and aren’t a reflection of our reality. When you voice those negative thoughts to someone who cares about your mental well-being, they would be able to share with you their own perspective of the situation, remind you of how competent you are, or at least help you to identify why you are having these thoughts and feelings.
I’m sure there have been times when friends have shared their concerns with you and you’re surprised that they feel the way they do. Many well-established men and women who, on the outside seem to have it all figured out, have fears that they aren’t doing enough or aren’t as ahead in life as they should be. We all experience these feelings, and sometimes, we just need a reminder of the truth.
If you choose to talk to someone about your negative thoughts, ensure that this is someone who is emotionally and mentally mature enough to encourage you to look at the situation in a positive light, as opposed to someone who would wallow in your sorrow with you.
You Can Do This!
In conclusion, dealing with negative thought patterns may not be easy, but there are many tools and techniques which can be incorporated into your daily life which will over time allow you to be able to face these thoughts head-on. By recognizing when you are having a negative thought, pausing to express gratitude, using mindfulness techniques, speaking positively, and talking it out with someone you trust, you are equipped to combat any negativity.
Try as many of these tips as you need to until you find which works the best for you. And remember, your thoughts are not a reflection of who you are or what you’re able to do, you are so much more capable than you think.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Sherelle Timothy