How to Turn Negative Thoughts to Positive ones - Even in Trying Times

    4 min read time

    If you want to succeed in anything in life (and avoid tons of stress!), from being an entrepreneur to playing competitive chess, you have to learn how to think positively. Yes, I know, we have all heard this many times before, but have you actually taken the time to REALLY think about how you think?

    So often, our default language to ourselves is negative. With every little tiny mistake, we start to beat ourselves up and think negative thoughts.

    But the BEST mindset you can create shifts that negative self-talk to positive self-talk.

    So, here are some strategies I use to make the switch to more positive thinking:

    1. Imagine an older version of yourself. 

    When you make a mistake and are tempted to think or speak negatively, picture an older and wiser version of yourself. Then think, 'What would that more experienced person say to me?'

    They wouldn’t beat you up—instead, they would likely tell you to give yourself grace, try again and keep going. When you take this perspective of imagining an older version of yourself, it gives you perspective and lets you know that one mistake does NOT define your entire life or career.

    Too often we cry Chicken Little, The Sky is Falling instead of imagining an older, wiser person giving us advice.

    2. Lean into, (not give into) negative thoughts. 

    Our negative thoughts are usually trying to tell us something. And since our mind or body is afraid (worried, confused, anxious), they try to protect us from that fear. So, it can be helpful to lean into the negative thoughts and address WHY those thoughts are there. journaling

    For example, I always recommend to wake up each morning and record your thoughts in your journal. If they are negative, great, still write them down, but then write down next to them how you can make that thought positive.

    If a fear of failure or losing is causing your negativity, address the fear as the root problem of the negativity. Instead of pushing down negative thoughts or giving into them, try to work through the fear. This is why writing is SO powerful. 

    “See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” ~Dalai Lama

    3. Consider your physical health and sleep habits.

    I know I repeat this over and over, but we as humans need to hear things multiple times! Any time you start to feel down, MOVE YOUR BODY. I highly recommend after you do your morning meditations and journaling and make it a part of your routine. Think about this....we feel better, filled with a bit more happiness and positivity, when we move our body! 

    One of my favorite things to do that I've been able to do across the country during the pandemic, is be a part of challenge groups online. Private groups of friends or colleagues where you do fun movement such as the 12 Days of Fitmas. Nothing big or fancy; maybe just 'tell us when you did you 12 jumping jacks'.

    And I know how much simpler it is to think clearly and optimistically when my belly is not empty or filled with junk.

    In addition, sleep. Work can wait. The social media can wait. The news can wait. The emails can wait. The job search can wait! Make a habit out of going to bed and waking up around the same times each and every day. No matter what! 

    So I highly recommend being careful about these basic habits that may sound boring. Because they do have a huge effect either way on your thoughts. 

    4. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.

    It’s incredibly easy to lose perspective, especially if you are stressed and you are going too fast to try and get to the next best thing. And so a molehill can become a big terrifying mountain in your mind. How can you attack that molehill?

    Say stop.

    In your mind, shout “STOP!” or “NOPE, we are not going down that path again!” as soon as thoughts of this kind starts to spin in your head. Sometimes you may need to say it out loud.

    Breathe. breathe

    After you have disrupted the thoughts by shouting stop sit down and just be still. I know this is incredibly hard for many of us, but this is an important step to take and to do it regularly.

    Breathe with your belly and focus on just your in-breaths and out-breaths for a minute or two to calm your mind and body down. We tend to breathe SO quickly, especially when we are under stress or thinking negatively.

    Refocus.

    Question your mountain building thoughts by talking to someone close to you and getting a more grounded perspective on the situation by just venting or by getting their input. Yes, this will be challenging as you will need to be vulnerable.

    Or simply ask yourself this to widen your perspective and to chill out. I do this a lot:

    Will this matter in 5 years? Or even 5 weeks?

    Life is hardly ever the fairytale we hope it'll be. Twists and turns and unexpected curveballs sometimes make it hard to keep your head above water. Learning ways to take your negative thoughts and turn them negative is something that comes with lots of awareness and practice; but when you do figure it out — and subsequently realize you're stronger than ever — there's comfort to be found in knowing that life might be tough, but you're tougher, and nothing's going to get you down. PLUS, you have the support of us here. 

    What ways are you going to turn your negative thoughts to positive thoughts?