Negativity is an unavoidable aspect of life because, let’s face it: life isn’t perfect, and it never will be. With so much going on in the world, there has been a surplus of negativity lately, and many of us get caught in the loop without realizing it. So on top of being super tired of being stuck in the house from COVID-19 restrictions, all the negativity we are consuming may:
- Damage your health
- Increase anxiety & depression
- Affect relationships
- Change your mood
But we can’t allow this way of thinking to control our lives, because if we do, we will never be able to become the boss we’re meant to be. There are three types of negative mindsets that like to slide under the radar, but we can overcome them with some effort and willingness to change. We have to be able to identify the patterns and actively work toward changing it—not just for ourselves, but for the world around us.
“I want to be a mindset coach, but I need a business name, a website, matching social media, an LLC, trademarks, a nicer camera, a nicer computer, an iPad, a virtual assistant, and a personal office. And then I’ll start coaching. Oh and then maybe ________.”
This was me about three months ago, trying to be perfect. Overthinking is the process of going over every single choice and every single outcome you can think of. It can stem from the anticipation of starting a new project or the nervousness of traveling alone for the first time. Now, when you’re doing it, you may not interpret it as a bad thing. You may think it’s putting you ahead of the game or minimizing your risk of failure, but the process of continuously trying to be in control—yes, control, because that where it stems from—of everything will stop you from being able to be present and actually enjoy life.
How to overcome it
The first step is to pay attention to your daily thoughts and interrupt them when you’re replaying something over and over in your head. Create a practice of reminding yourself that marinating in your head won’t change the situation, and redirect your focus to something you can control. Give yourself a good “AHT AHT” out loud whenever you do it: you’ll give yourself a good laugh and you’ll stop the spiraling thought process. And you’re going to have to make a decision and stick with, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Worrying won’t change our life, but being aware of your thoughts and actively working towards changing them absolutely will.
Also—if you’re in a situation like I was—just start the project and worry about perfecting it later. “How? I have so much preparation to do!” You might say. Remember this phrase: ready, fire, aim. Take the concept you have in mind, create the content and post it, then refine it after it’s out there. You’ve got some great ideas and they deserve to be implemented, not overly thought-out. There is someone who is waiting to be impacted by your work, imperfect and all.
2. Being a “Judgmental Judy”
“Wow, she’s always on her phone at her desk. I know she isn’t getting any work done. She must not care that much about keeping her job.”
This is an example of one observation that turned into a complete scenario that may or may not even be accurate. Judgement happens almost instantly as a way for our mind to attempt to categorize attributes, scenarios, and other pieces of information. Even when we first meet someone, we judge them based on past experiences (or lack thereof), what we’ve been taught, our personal belief system, and our culture. We’ve all, in one or another, judged someone or have been judged, but it’s the acting on said judgement and allowing those thought processes to continue that makes you a “Judgmental Judy.” And, just to be clear, you can still be a Judgmental Judy even if you don’t say a word, because body language is real and people can feel it.
Sometimes it shows up from a place of not knowing as a defense mechanism, other times it’s a way for people to feel better about themselves and their life, but it takes away mental energy you have that can be used toward something constructive or positive. This is time you could be using towards that side business, practicing self-care, learning a new skill, or just being a decent human being. To be clear, just because you are sometimes judged does not excuse you to be judgmental of others. At that point, you’re just reinforcing the cycle of negativity.
How to overcome it
You’ve got to get to the bottom of why you feel the need to judge someone and unlearn it—quickly. When that judgmental thought pops in your head, you have to stop yourself, and then ask yourself:
- ” Why do I feel that way/where is this coming from?”
- “Why does that matter? Is that person directly affecting me?
And if you answer “yes” to question #2, go back and ask question #1 again. The key is to get to the root cause of why you believe judging that person is OK. I’ll give you a cheat code: there is never a good time to judge someone.
Remind yourself of that every single time you go to marinate on a negative thought or act in a judgmental way, and learn to stop judging a book by its cover. And if you see or hear someone judging someone else, you have the moral obligation to call someone out on their BS. It’s time to cut that out.
3. Mental filtering
“I hate my job. I can never be with my family or friends. I don’t get paid enough. My boss sucks. My co-workers are disruptive. I’m not even that good at doing my job, so I know I won’t get a raise.”
Now you might not like your day job, but mental filtering is a thought process that only focuses on the negative things about a scenario, conversation, and even relationships that we have with others. The “filter” takes away from our ability to look at things as a whole, which perpetuates a negative outlook on life. It’s like walking around with glasses that only allow you to see the bad aspects of anything you look at. This cognitive act may increase depression and anxiety, and definitely will prevent you from being your best self. We sometimes even form relationships with others based on the negative idea of something, because misery loves company. Once we begin to only acknowledge the negativity in life is when we are “filtering” out the rest and destroying the beauty of life.
How to overcome it
Make a habit of writing down all the positive things that happened in the day. It can be as small as, “A stranger held the door for me at the gas station,” to, “My customer gave me a compliment on my service.” Challenge yourself to do it for 30 days straight, and try to write different things down every day. You can even reword phrases that mean the exact same thing. This practice is going to help your brain start shifting to the positive daily experiences, which will take that filter right off.
If you believe one or more of your relationships is centered around negativity, you can do this: talk to them and let them know you’re working on finding the positive in every situation, and that you don’t want to speak on negativity anymore unless it’s constructive. If they make the change with you, congratulations, you have a healthy relationship! If they don’t make the change, you may need to distance yourself or cut them out. Being around people who are supportive of your change is important to how you transition into the “glass half-full” portion of your life, and will give you some accountability partners. Will we ever be free from negativity? Nope. But we can be free from letting it control our lives and take away our happiness.