Every so often I take time to reflect on personal growth and I have admit, I have come a really long way. I used to be super messy (and I don’t mean in terms of organisation because I’m still messy). I mean I just couldn’t seem to get anything right; in any situation I saw how it could go wrong, before I saw how it might work out. I dismissed people without a second thought but held onto people I really shouldn’t have, because I didn’t think I could do any better.
In India, when training elephants, handlers begin by chaining one of the elephant’s legs to a tree. Over time, they gradually decrease the size of the chain until all it takes is a flimsy string to hold the elephant. It’s not the string that restrains the massive animal. It’s his mind.
Your mind limits you in the same way. It can mercilessly pick apart and criticise your every move while chewing on the “evidence” ceaselessly. It can second-guess and sabotage your relationships with insecurities and emotional walls. Your mind can keep you stuck and hold you back in all areas of your life, like the elephant’s string.
But it doesn’t have to.
I decided to reclaim control and beat negative thinking once and for all. It was a slow process, because I still battle with my anxiety every day. But once I found a formula that worked for me, it got easier. Of course this doesn’t mean that I don’t still get negative thoughts; it just means I don’t allow it to destroy me or my day.
I want to help you if:
You feel emotionally tired, angry or unmotivated;
You keep overthinking your past mistakes or misfortunes;
You want to change yourself, but don’t know where to start;
You already tried changing, but got back to older habits;
You feel disappointed;
You struggle with low confidence;
There are ways to beat negative thinking and emerge from it – stronger, brighter and wiser than before.
STOP BEING THE VICTIM
In narrative therapy, I learned that everyone is the narrator of their own story, but how they choose to cast themselves speaks volumes. No one wants to be the villain, but people often forget that they can be their own hero. So many times when you listen to someone speak, they’re the victim of their own circumstances. Nothing is ever their fault. You did everything you could to save the relationship, but the other person was just hell bent on being difficult and dismissing all of YOUR attempts. Learn how to be accountable for how your actions (or lack thereof) contributed to your situation, takes notes and do better next time. Because as long as you insist on remaining the victim (nothing is within your control, everyone is out to get you etc.) you’ll never rise above your anxiety, trust problems or insecurities.
NOBODY LIKES A PITY PARTY
This kind of thinking leads to pity parties. This is where you just sulk in your victim-mentality. It’s bad enough when it’s done alone, but other people are often dragged into this. First it’s as simple as complaining about the problem to a friend, but when you keep complaining to friends, your misery is ruining your company. No one wants to be around someone they think is always negative. So what do you do? Stop complaining. You’re not a victim and everyone doesn’t need to know what happened.
Challenge Your Thinking
Distance yourself from and question your thoughts and beliefs. Analyse them objectively from all angles. Is this really what you think or is it an inherited belief from your past? Drop the story lines usually running in your head and any personal emotional investment you have in the situation for a minute. Try on different points of view and zoom out. Have the intent to give your mind guidance, like a wise, caring friend. Control it instead of it controlling you.
If you want to reframe your thoughts too, check out my
Start planning & organising
With so much going on, you need to get active. Set goals, sort out your thoughts, write down important dates, and track your finances. Negative thoughts often come from a lack of order. Yes, there are situations when it’s hard to stay positive. But having a plan gives you at least a feeling of control. If you feel that your life is too messy and it’s bringing you down, start a planner pretty! It is the best thing you can do at this moment. However, be care to not get too excited. Your anxiety may push you to organise as much as you can every day. This can lead to you feeling super organised, but also very tired. And instead of being super happy about your new, organised life and a sparkling new planner, you may feel even more exhausted. I’m not telling you to skip organisation – no! It helped me to get out of my slump like nothing else. Planning your life and sorting your environment – these things will help you achieve your goals. Take it seriously! But the secret is to start life organisation gently.
Self help is cheesy but there’s a reason it’s a billion dollar business
Okay so you’re not exactly the self-help book reading type. But think of it this way. Self-help books have working solutions, so you only need to take their knowledge and apply to your own life. A great book that is often recommended is The subtle art of not giving a F*ck by Mark Manson . It’s an inspiring, eye-opening book, sold over a million times. The author isn’t some kind of life coach or writer – just a simple guy who cracked down the code of not giving that many f*cks.
I genuinely only read books that contain profanity because it feels real. I’m not perfect, so I don’t need a book that pretends to be perfect. And that’s why I choose “anti-self help” books. I know I don’t have my life together, but I just can’t relate to the yoga moms, who drink smoothies instead of eating real food and take a bunch of styled photos for Instagram. Even F*ck Feelings is a good place to start.
I’m not a superstar life coach like Lucinda Bassett or Brian Tracy . But if these things work for me, they may work for you too. If you are in a slump right now, I encourage you to try one of these tips and see if it helps. You’ll never know where a step can lead if you don’t take it! Do you struggle with a bad mood or negative thinking? What keeps you up at night? Share in a comment down below.