It is essential to realise and appreciate the power you have over your thoughts. One can have a bad day simply because they entertained a bad thought. You may not necessarily be able to control what comes into your mind, but you can definitely control the way you react to it, together with the length of time it stays in your mind. And that realisation is a game changer.
We can make our thoughts work for or against us, and it is in our control. You run this! It comes down to what you choose to entertain.
Sometimes, you will find yourself suddenly thinking about something negative. This could be a negative experience that you’d have encountered earlier or stress concerning something that could happen in future. Gloomy thoughts about the future are particularly frustrating because they allow you to make up tons of gloom-ridden scenarios that “could” happen. You might not believe it now, but those scenarios probably won’t even come close to happening. And if they won’t, what then is the point of entertaining them in our minds?
If it is something that has already happened, obsessively thinking about it hinders us from looking forward and enjoying the more positive things that surround us in the moment. Of course, a negative experience that has occurred must be thought about and dealt with accordingly. We cannot simply push it to the back of our minds. But we cannot continue to give it attention forever. We need to move on. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we can only step into that light if we move towards it, away from the tunnel. 🌟 We cannot spend our lives in the tunnel.
These are examples of allowing our thoughts to work against us. A person can wake up and the first thing they think about is a betrayal they’d have experienced at the hands of a loved one. If they continue to water this thought, it will grow and stay with them for the rest of the day. That’s a whole day gone because you chose to entertain a bad thought.
The question then is how we can make our thoughts work for us? This is done by turning away from negative thoughts and embracing and entertaining the positive ones that make us feel at ease, happier.
You can’t turn away from negative thoughts by simply stopping the thought. Our brains do not have an “off” switch. This has been proved by what psychologists have named “the white bear problem”. It means that if someone told you to think about a white bear and then stop thinking about it, the picture of the white bear will probably stay in your mind. (Psychology Today).
The best way to turn away from negative thoughts is through distracting yourself by doing something physical. This works because the mind, body and spirit are connected. (Clarity Clinic). Doing something that you enjoy can take your mind away from the thoughts that are bothering you and causing you unrest. You can also distract yourself by starting a new stream of thought. Thinking about something else that is more positive works because your mind will run with that thought, then in that moment, and even after that moment, you’ll forget what you were stressing about earlier. You’ve decided not to water that negative thought, and now you’ve saved your day from being wasted by darkness and worry.
However, some negative thoughts are more intense than others. And with these, the solutions are different. The solutions require more work. The key is to release these thoughts from our minds into the world. Fighting battles alone in our minds can make them seem larger than they are, or unsolvable. Negative thoughts should not be left in our minds because that is where they have the most power. Release those thoughts. If you do not feel comfortable talking to someone, it can be as simple as journaling. Journaling has an enormous impact. It allows you to put things into perspective and hence see that light at the end of the tunnel. Your problem has left your mind and it is now on that paper or on that screen.
The thoughts can also be released by talking to someone you trust. The importance is in releasing your thoughts and getting them out of you. Because this truly provides perspective.
Remember, your thoughts are just that: THOUGHTS. Instead of creating negative scenarios, why not think of the good that could happen instead? We think so negatively because negative events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones, and psychologists refer to this as the negative bias. It means we register negative stimuli more readily and we further go on to dwell on these negative events. (verywell mind). For instance, you could forget the document that you were working on at home and have to drive back to get it. Our minds will dwell on that one negative experience for a long time and you will think that you had a bad day when in fact you just experienced one minor setback that did not have to ruin the rest of your day.
Negative bias can be dealt with by reframing the situation. How you talk to yourself about experiences will influence how you interpret events. If you see yourself interpreting something negatively, stop and look for ways to reframe the events in a more positive light. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely disregard the dangers and threats, it just means refocusing, so that fair, equitable and just weight is also given to the positive interpretation. Negative bias is a result of ignoring the positives in a situation. You think “this is how it could go wrong” but have you thought “this is how it could go right”?
Happiness is our main priority. We cannot allow OUR thoughts to work against us, they have to work for us. And we’re capable of achieving this.
Go out there and live a positive life! 🌟