When I started this blog, I knew that I wanted to help people. I’ve been sharing my experiences. Talking about the things that have been working for me in the hopes that they’ll work for others. I’ve talked about fitness, my choice to live drug-free, challenging fear, what motivates me, and dealing with negativity. In this post, I want to share my biggest secret. The thing that has helped me the most, when I’ve been able to harness it and hold on to it.
Let me start with a little bit of my history. If you read my first post, the one about fear, you have an idea of what I’ll say next. I’ve spent my life afraid. Afraid of taking chances, or that I wouldn’t be good enough. Afraid of failure. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for much of my life. They have constantly been there, clouding my mind even when I didn’t know what they were. My tendency, sadly, is to gravitate towards the negative. To fear the worst, and to let that fear make my decisions for me.
Recently, I’ve been working to fight back against that negative mindset. Because every time I indulge those thoughts, I’m reinforcing neural pathways that aren’t serving me. They’re holding me back.
To be honest, it’s a fight I don’t always win. Some days I wake up and still have trouble getting out of bed. Things seem bleak, and I have to fight with every ounce of my strength to get past it and do something with my day. Today, I’m going to share the biggest weapons in my arsenal with you. I hope you’re excited, because I’m about to tell you the one I was referring to in the title of this post:
That’s it. That’s the secret. Start to think positively. It might be too much of a challenge at first, and trust me when I say I understand that. But at least be neutral. I’ve been in therapy before. One practical type of therapy that I have practiced is called CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I’m not a health care professional, and I’m not here to diagnose or prescribe or tell anybody that I can solve their problems. But this worked for me, and I’ll sum it up for you here.
When you have a negative thought, you examine it and compose a balanced statement. Let’s say the negative thought is something like “my boss hates me.” Write that thought down. Then list the evidence that it’s true. After that, list the evidence that it’s false. Then write a balanced statement. In this case, it would be something along the lines of “while my boss sometimes is rude to me, she’s like that with everyone, and we do have our good moments as well.”
The idea behind this type of exercise is that a completely positive statement, like “my boss loves me,” would seem fake and you would reject it mentally. The balanced statement is there to help you replace the negative thought with a neutral and logical one. Even when you aren’t capable of thinking positively, it helps you to think a little more realistically. A step in the right direction.
“He who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right.”
I hate using quotes sometimes, because I can’t decide who to attribute them to. The good ones often have some debate as to where they came from. That one came from Will Smith, but it also seems to be derived from very similar quotes by Confucius and Henry Ford. So take your pick.
One way in which you can stay positive is by looking at the good instead of the bad. I’m not going to make any assumptions about you here, so I’ll use exclusively things that pertain to me. Some of the negative thoughts that plague me are usually along the lines of “I’m lazy,” “I’m useless,” “I will never accomplish anything in my life.” The first one might be partly true, I’ll admit that, but the others aren’t. Regardless, none of these thoughts are helpful.
Whenever I can, and when I remember to, I tell myself the following: “I’m capable, I’m determined, and I can do anything I set my mind to.” I repeat it over and over again, and it helps to put me into a better mindset. And it’s reasonable. Even if I don’t believe I’m exceptional, I can at least believe I’m capable. Even on my worst days, I know that it’s not a question of whether or not I can do something. It’s a question of whether or not I will.
I can’t speak for every single one of you out there. But if you’re reading this, you’re in the right mindset. You’re wanting to move forward. You’re ready. If you have an internet connection and you can read, you’re doing better than many people in the world. So believe me when I say that you are capable of doing all the things that you want to do. If you set your mind to it.
Be grateful. Every single day. Whether it’s through prayer, meditation, or just silent reflection, take some time to think about all the good things you have. You woke up this morning, for one. That’s a start. Statistically speaking, over 150,000 people died yesterday. You weren’t one of them. That should be at the top of the list. Now think of a few more. I could make some suggestions, but it’s not as meaningful if you don’t come up with them yourself.
If you want a practical way to implement this, start a list. Each day, write down 3 things that you’re grateful for. Start on a blank page, and write small. Keep at it every day until you fill up the page. Admittedly, I’m a little bit of a hypocrite because I started this once on a whiteboard and didn’t fill the whole thing up. But I did it for a couple weeks, and I know that it did wonders for my mindset. And now that it’s on my mind, I’m going to pick up where I left off. It’s never too late. I’m still breathing. I will fill that whiteboard.
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