Changing negative thinking is possible and achievable. I have learned that when I concentrate the majority of my thoughts on the negative aspects of life, whether that be my own or otherwise, I feel much more depressed and despondent. Or, if I focus primarily on all my shortcomings, failures and disappointments and ignore all the successes and achievements I have had, then I feel much more pessimistic and down on myself. My self-image and self-esteem suffer. For 17 years, I concentrated the majority of my thoughts on the negative in just this way, and I was extremely unhappy as a result.
Shifting Thoughts From the Negative to the Positive
However, when I shift my thoughts to focus mainly on all the positives that I see around me, within people, within life circumstances and within my own life, I feel much happier, much more at peace and more content. When I list out and see all of my progress, positive qualities and successes and focus on those instead of all the failures and disappointments, my self-esteem improves and I feel really good about myself. Individual therapy taught me to shift my focus from the negative to the positive, and once I did that, things started to dramatically change and I became much happier. I also realized that focusing on the positive aspects of life was a personal choice I could make for myself, and that I always had the power within my own hands to choose happier, more positive thoughts.
Seeing only the negative aspects of life is like viewing life through a colored lens that filters out all that is good and positive. There are always positives to be seen in the world and within our lives, and there are always silver linings to be seen within every situation.
Life to me is like two sides of a coin. There is always a positive and a negative. Like Yin and Yang, the dark and the light will always co-exist. But it is then up to us to choose which side of the coin to focus on the most. Our personal and inner happiness is within our own hands, and I believe that feeling and being happy is a personal choice, no matter what dark clouds or storms surround us.
It is not always easy to accomplish, however, when some of us are conditioned throughout our lives to think more negatively based on our own unfortunate circumstances or life events. When a string of unfortunate or tragic events occur, we can start to believe that everything will be the same, that there is no hope for change or for something more positive to occur. Because of how things have gone, that must be how it will always be.
This is erroneous negative thinking. We cannot project the past into the future. The future is untold. It is up to us to create our own future, and we can! We can change what is within our control to change, and life can improve, no matter what has already happened to us. It is possible to achieve a shift in our thought process, if one applies concentrated, consistent effort.
Within psychology, this is called CBT–cognitive behavioral therapy – which is altering negative thoughts to more positive ones through deliberate, conscious effort. We can apply the same principle to our daily lives and moment-to-moment thought processes to achieve greater happiness on a daily basis. It is not easy if we are conditioned to think differently, but it is possible. Anything in life is possible, with the right attitude and with concentrated effort.
Even when things go drastically wrong and take a major downturn in our lives, we can change negative thoughts to the positive by looking for the silver linings in any given situation, or really, what is called the brighter side of life. There is always a silver lining, if you look for one hard enough. When we do so, we can change how we feel about a seemingly negative situation and can feel more positive about it.
For example, when I didn’t get two jobs that I had applied for and was a top candidate, rather than focusing on the crushing disappointment and let down, I made up my mind that a much better job will come along later and that for whatever reason, those jobs were not the best match for that employer or for me.
So every time you catch yourself thinking negatively, try shifting your thinking to a more positive thought, outlook and stance. Try to find all the positives in your life, rather than focusing on any negatives, and remind yourself of those each time you find yourself thinking negatively. Try being optimistic and hopeful about the future, knowing that the future is untold and we can create our own futures. And lastly, know that things can improve and can change for the better. Any storm we face is temporary and will eventually pass.
Here’s to changing negative thinking and to your own happiness!