Have you ever had a negative thought? Have you ever uttered it out loud, even in jest? Most of us have. More importantly, more often than we’d like to admit. Negative thinking can be damaging not only to our self-esteem, but can begin a cycle of thought and behavior which negatively impacts our own perception of events in our lives.
For example: Perhaps you’ve been assigned a special project at work. You’re confident in taking it on, but upon completion you notice one tiny error. You begin to berate the way in which you handled the project, even though the error was not significant. While your boss is telling you what a great job you’ve done, you begin to make excuses for it. Your negativity has minimized the entire project, and magnified one area of it.
What steps can you take to avoid this pattern? Take a step back and look at the project objectively. Not only did you complete it in an efficient manner, but it will become the template for future projects. Forget about the mistake; think about what you’ve achieved.
The holidays are approaching and you need to begin the house-cleaning project. You look around and decide it’s just too much; you can’t do it; why bother. Stop! Take a deep breath and consider dividing up the tasks. Enlist the aid of your family to help by assigning each one a specific job. Once you begin the process of prioritizing, you will feel better and it will be accomplished.
You’ve started a diet before the holidays. One day, you have a yearning for a particular dessert. You quickly decide your diet is over, and it wasn’t worth the effort. You walk over to the mirror and utter to yourself, “I’m fat, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Wrong! Setting yourself up for failure by thinking negatively about the way you look does not solve the immediate problem. Instead, admit to cheating; promise you’ll try harder, and allow positive thoughts to guide you through it.
Probably the most intensely negative thought processes are experienced by teenagers. Perhaps their life isn’t going the way they thought it would; or they are unhappy with school; or peer pressure has made them act in a way that cultivates anger. “I don’t want to live anymore,” one might say. While they may not mean what they say; it is still a sign which requires immediate intervention. The thought can become a seed which could germinate into the act itself.
Either through family, friends, counselors or skilled professionals – negative thought can quickly be turned around into positive reinforcement. It is up to each and every one of us to ensure that any hint of negativity is purged from our thought process; and to avoid imprinting unwelcome thoughts onto our family or friends.