Negative thoughts-lead to negative feelings-lead to negative behaviors. This deceivingly simple formula has been proven to be true for over 30 years. It is the proven foundation of successful psychotherapy. Its so effective that it’s proven to work on severe depression, anxiety, and almost any psychological disorder. You can put it to use when you are feeling down, or even better, as a tool to sharpen your mind, and take control of your emotions. Here I give you a few techniques, proven by the most cutting edged science in psychology, that will lead you to positive emotions, positive behaviors, and success.
1. Be around positive forces.
The environment is extremely powerful in creating emotions. Think about this; if you go into a room full of toxic gases, regardless of what you do, or want, if you stay there long enough you would get sick. In the same way, toxic-negative environments and people will eventually create toxic and negative feelings in us. Avoid being around negative people who will encourage your feelings of doom and gloom. Instead, enjoy the company of friends and family members who induce positive emotions. If you absolutely have to be in a negative environment, be aware of it’s negative effects on your emotional state, and get out as soon as you can, before you get toxically sick.
2. Focus on your body language.
Walk with your head held high up. Take up the space that you are in, i.e. don’t slouch, don’t be meek, don’t feel restricted and try to not be noticed. “Power Postures” as are known in social science , can encourage confidence, optimistic thoughts — and increased clarity. (for a presentation of Power Postures see the following TED Talk Some examples of how power posing can actually boost your confidence.
3. Write the negative thoughts out on paper. Then, challenge them.
Demand of yourself to prove that your negative thoughts are true. Imagine that you are a judge in a court of law, and demand evidence, not opinion, that prove that what you think is true. Write down all the evidence that you can. You will discover that most of your negative thoughts are nothing more than opinion and conjecture that don’t have evidence in reality. Once this becomes clear, your negative thoughts will loose the power to make you feel badly.
4. Confide in someone you trust and who won’t judge you.
Ask them to help you with the above exercise. Ask them to serve as an impartial judge as you present the case for your negative thoughts. Then ask them to rule. Ask them if they are satisfied with the evidence. Ask them to tell you the reason why, or why not. Not only can this ease the burden of your heavy thoughts, but it can help you get rid of your negative thinking, or be clear about changes that you can make to get rid of negativity in your life..
5. Read an uplifting book or article.
Instead of allowing bad thoughts to eat away at you, immerse yourself in something uplifting that can influence you to make a positive change in your existence. The famous psychologist Albert Bandura proved the power of “modeling”, the power that a positive model can have in shaping our view of the world, thinking and behavior. Seek inspiring models in novels, comic books, films, and all other forms of art. They can be incredibly powerful.
6. Rest, rest, rest.
The proper rest can also give you some much-needed perspective. After your sleep, your formerly troubled mind will feel clear and uncluttered.
7. Do a good deed.
Instead of concentrating solely on your own problems, shift the attention to someone else. Help someone else out. The power that helping has on emotions has been documented scientifically as one of the most important components of happiness. This could mean anything from the smallest act, to acts of great kindness. The result will be the same; an uplifting feeling of satisfaction, and escape from your negative thinking.
8. Now comes the most important of all: Practice Acceptance.
Accept that you are Human. Accept that you are not supposed to be perfect. Accept that life is not supposed to be fun, or happy all the time. Accept that disappointments are not tragedies, that failures are not catastrophe and they are a necessary part of life. So when your thought says “This is Awful” say back “No, this is dissapointing”, and when your thoughts say “I can’t take it”, say back “This is painful, but This too shall Pass”.
You have the power to change your thinking, manage your feelings, and be pushed by your mind in the direction that will bring you satisfaction, joy, and fulfillment. Take it.